Stepping stones toward independence

October 12, 2022 | Focus On Education | Volume 26 Issue 21
Submitted by Kieran Reynolds | Mennonite Collegiate Institute
Gretna, Man.
Keeley and Natalya relax outdoors during MCI’s get acquainted social. (Photo by Kayla Giesbrecht)

We want our children to be set up for success. As we look at life after high school, one way we see success is being able to live independently. As I step into my ninth year of working with dormitory programs, I believe that a good dormitory program can provide this opportunity to live independently.

At Mennonite Collegiate Institute, we work alongside our school parents to offer this opportunity. We view our dorm program as a stepping stone towards that independence we want for our children.

We see our dorm as a space where life skills are matured and developed under the watchful eye of staff who are their mentors. It allows students to learn how to cope with life and its many high and low points, all while living within a community of their peers who are going through the same things. We work hard to create a safe space to allow the exploration of life skills, from interpersonal skills to self-care to leadership skills.

For example: opportunities to cope with stress and regulate emotions; time management; building relationships with adults, peers and roommates; growing listening skills and understanding verbal and non-verbal communication; conflict management; role modelling and building community; learning how to take initiative and be proactive; and understanding teamwork.

We can often think back to specific times where we learned parts of these different skills. We didn’t develop these from someone else’s experience, but from our own experiences. Usually, these weren’t matured from things going right, but from times they went wrong.

Walking through all of this with your faith should feel easier, but sometimes, as we become overwhelmed with new experiences, falling back on God gets forgotten. We want our students to continue to rely on God and remember that they always have a mentor with them. This journey isn’t about finding ourselves, it’s about finding ourselves in God’s story.

We get excited that our students are on this journey. Along the way, they may stumble. Our staff appreciate the opportunity to walk alongside them, to listen and encourage them. We pray that our students continue to add tools to their toolbox that allow them to continue to assess, develop and mature into godly people ready for the next chapter in God’s story.

Keeley and Natalya relax outdoors during MCI’s get acquainted social. (Photo by Kayla Giesbrecht)

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