Traveling home from a service trip in Haiti with our team of 35 staff and students, a middle-aged woman was seated across from me. We struck up a conversation and she shared how impressed she was with our students, noting how well-behaved and respectful they had been before boarding. It turns out that she was a psychologist and had placed one of her own children in a residential program a number of years ago.
Towards the end of the boarding process, one of our girls was unable to find luggage space in the overhead bins, and she came to me and began to cry, saying, “My mom and dad told me to keep this with me and not to check it! What am I going to do?” One of our team immediately got up and pulled his bag out of the overhead bin to make space for her bag, and checked his own. The psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.
Halfway through the flight, one of our young adult leaders discreetly told me that one of our teens was using foul language and being rude to one of our staff. It was apparently bad enough to have caught the attention of the senior flight attendant who had issued a warning to our teen. I moved our most experienced female staff member to the seat next to this young woman and had her explain the consequences that would incur if she didn’t change her behavior and apologize to the flight attendant. The psychologist watched this transpire, and said nothing.
Then I got up and went to the front of the plane to visit with all of the flight attendants. I introduced myself to them, explained who we were, and where we had just been. I apologized for the teen’s conduct and assured them that we do not approve of such behavior, and that there would be consequences. I gave them my full support, even if it included barring our teen from the connecting flight and getting her back to Shelterwood in a rented car. The flight attendants couldn’t have been more kind, gracious and understanding. They thanked me for what we do and even blessed me with a gift of goodies. The psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.
After landing, the psychologist leaned over and, with tears in her eyes, said, “I wish that I had known about a facility like yours to place my child in when he was struggling. Your team is absolutely amazing.” This was a huge compliment from a woman who watched our kids and our staff interact for several hours, and I would agree with her. I really love the people who work at our academy and enjoy even the chaotic days that we get to spend together.