T.I.C. transitions

Jew on the Waves of Fate

Archive for the tag “Graduate School”

Removing the Bars Conference Registration OPEN

This is an event I am a part of organizing.  It is going to be great.  Please check it out!

Registration is Now Open!!!

Click HERE to Register Online!

Space is Limited

March 23 and 24

An interdisciplinary community event presented by the Columbia University School of Social Work Criminal Justice Caucus in collaboration with students from the following Columbia University Schools: Law School, Mailman School of Public Health, Teachers College, School of the Arts, School of Social Work including the Feminist Caucus, Men’s Caucus, Queer Caucus, API Caucus, AGE Caucus, Latino Caucus, and the Social Work Arts Group; the Students Against Mass Incarceration; The Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families and Communities; and the CU School of Social Work Office of Student Services.

All events are FREE and OPEN TO ALL.

Questions? Contact criminaljusticecaucus@gmail.com

Click here for conference schedule.

Click here for event descriptions and locations.

Click here to visit the Conference page of the CJC Blog

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Removing the Bars

On January 29, 2011 I had the pleasure to help facilitate Columbia University School of Social Work’s (CUSSW) first ever skills-based conference on criminal justice titled “Removing the Bars.”  The Criminal Justice Caucus at CUSSW, of which I am a member put together and sponsored this conference that despite some resistance and numerous logistical considerations proved to be a great success.  The conference was a full day of workshops, a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals and their family discussing their experiences, and a plenary session on the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” where The Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-NY presented.  Among my responsibilities I was able to recruit my professor, Markus Redding JD MSW to speak on the problem solving courts of New York City and how social workers are, can be, and should be involved the court system.

The conference brought in students from various schools, professionals in the fields of law, social work, and criminal justice as well as community members.  The diversity of attendance spoke to the need for these issues to be explored and part of the beauty of the conference was that new or uncovered issues were raised that can be addressed at future events.  At the end of the day I let out a giant sigh of relief and satisfaction.  It was a lot of work that proudly exemplified collaboration across caucuses at CUSSW and I believe the work was all worth it.  I look forward to helping bring the conference back in future years.  Check out the Criminal Justice Caucus blog to read more about it.

We also had really cool t-shirts!

Displaced Detention Worker

As I have mentioned I have begun studying for my master’s degree in social work.  I will nonchalantly remind everyone that I am pursuing this degree at Columbia University.  Do pride and arrogance really have to look that much alike?  Since October 2007 I had been working at the Boulder County Juvenile Assessment Center.  Nice name yet somewhat inadequate description for the multi-faceted juvenile detention facility where I worked up until the end of July 2010.

Now I must state that the facility where I worked was very progressive and not nearly as punitive as most detention facilities.  That said it was still detention, a locked facility staffed ‘round the clock.  Juveniles wore detention scrubs and were transported in shackles and handcuffs (do not be shocked, when you are arrested you are put in handcuffs).

Now I am entering into a very therapeutic atmosphere.  Social work school talks a lot about collaboration, self-awareness, and openness.  All of this is very important however I have not seen a lot of discussion regarding assertiveness yet.  It has been all of three weeks so who am I to complain.  I have heard mention about difficult field placements toughening a student and growing a thicker skin but it tends to be discussed as more of a negative; a “this is what has to happen” sort of dynamic rather than elaborating on the benefit that can be gained by ensuring you maintain a balance between being smooth and being firm.  I am a very strong believer and supporter of the search for balance.

We are taught about boundaries though the topic usually comes up when prompted by nervous questions regarding how much personal information a social worker should reveal to a client or whether it is okay to hug a student and similar queries.

I think one reason that I have begun to contemplate this is because I am noticing the influence of my detention work.  While I have and continue to view myself as a non-confrontational individual who leans toward collaboration rather than authoritarian methods I do believe the latter has its place.

My first year field placement is at a middle school in the south Bronx.  I believe it is safe to say that the majority of schools in New York City retain a harsher atmosphere than Oslo Middle School in Vero Beach, FL.  I was ready to be shocked and taken aback and wildly nervous.  I believe I am all of those things but not nearly to the level that I thought.  I have been in the field all of two days so my views and understandings could and will change.

I do however notice that I do not gravitate toward the softer attitude or approach in the school.  When discussing what to do with a student who is disruptive during a group session my first thought is of the various consequences: send back to class, send to dean, inform parent, and deprive of certain privileges.  My supervisor’s response was to simply send them back to class and inform her if it continues and we would take it from there.  My fellow interns, the different past experiences of whom I greatly admire, seemed unsure of a course of action though this could have just been my perception.

When a student came to the office and sat down with no explanation I remembered our supervisor telling us that students could not just spend time in the office as a way of avoiding something else.  They needed an appointment, to be scheduled in a group or have a pass to set up an appointment.  I engaged the girl, asked what class she had, what she needed and why she was not on her way to class.  After her various vague answers I politely yet firmly told her she needed to go to class, that she could not hang out but to return if she needed to when she was not in class.  This impressed a fellow intern yet seemed simply appropriate to me.

There were numerous other smaller examples (supporting a dean for having a student leave the assembly for speaking after being warned that if he spoke he would have to leave).  I believe, especially with adolescents, that being open and available is just as important as being firm and steadfast.  Follow through is very important and if a consequence is associated with a particular behavior not applying that consequence sends the wrong message.

I do not believe that “punitive” is the way to go.  I believe in collaboration especially the collaboration between being firm and being open, between being conservative and liberal if you will allow me to make such a comparison.  If I am willing to follow through on a reward I better be willing to follow through on a consequence and the other way around.

P.S. I must also note for my former co-workers that for someone who does not like and seeks to avoid confrontation I had to hold myself back from stepping in when students were being rowdy, this is no longer a part of my job…unless their rowdiness happens during something I am running.  I also picked up a bent paperclip and threw it out…I cannot let contraband sit…even if I am in a place where it is not contraband.

Financial WHOA!

I will admit that this is a headline driven post. I have been financially woeful lately since having to confront a host of very foreboding financial transitions however I might not have blogged about them yet, much, or ever had I not thought of such a witty, perhaps punny title to this post (I say as I humbly bow my head).

With higher education comes higher debt. Prior to my graduate school acceptance I was paying off two credit cards and one hospital bill. This was my debt and while I had let those credit cards get a little out of hand at times (damn ebay) everything was still manageable. All I had to do was stick with my secure, relatively well paying full time job and eventually that debt would be lessened and I wouldn’t have too many bald patches from pulling at my hair.

But why follow that route when I can quit the stable job, move to the most expensive city in the US, attend a private university, and have no steady income in sight come August? Call me a dreamer, call me hopeful, call me crazy…just don’t call my cell phone. Minutes are expensive.

Isn’t there some person or computer out there that can weigh my current situation against my future plans and give me some formula for how smart or idiotic I am? Actually it is probably better that I don’t know.

I know that there are many people out there surviving mainly off of loans and once they can support themselves they are barely surviving by working to pay off their loans. Isn’t this the American way…or at least one of the options you can pick in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book of American lifestyles? By the way I am working on this post in my cardiologist’s office where I am waiting to be told everything is fine, “your heart looks great” and then pay $400.
I would like to find a job in NYC but as of now I have no idea what my coursework and fieldwork hours will be like. But if there are any employers in Manhattan with flexible scheduling I have experience teaching, editing, filling cream puffs, stocking movies, selling clothes, sitting in a courtroom, restraining agitated youth, low-profile counseling, going to happy hour with ADAs and probation officers and I make a delicious yet sloppy pumpkin pie. Not to mention I can read Hebrew, know a smattering of Japanese and have extensive knowledge of old time radio shows. COME AND GET IT!

I currently work a shift that ends at 11:45pm. I am lucky if I am out of bed before noon and I am moving to “the city that never sleeps” to probably take 8am classes. And I’m worried about money? I’ll be lucky to make it down the stairs in one piece each morning.

Seriously though, I am excited for this big change or at least that is what I’m told. When I express my financial fears I am told that it will all work out. Now if I could just get a signed and notarized copy of that statement to provide to the banks that would be awesome.

Toothless

Have you ever seen the movie “Toothless?”  It was a Disney Channel Original Movie, the fancy description for Disney Channel’s TV movies.  This is before “High School Musical,” Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus and so on.  It starred Kristie Alley as a dentist who is lacking in the social and love life.  She almost dies and becomes a/the tooth fairy.  Where is my point, you ask?  The movie says that once a kid loses the last of their baby teeth they lose their innocence, so when she returns to her life and removes the last baby tooth of the young boy who helped heal her heart he all of a sudden has no memory of his interactions with her as the tooth-fairy.

Again you are asking where my point may be?

I turn 25 on June 2 and on June 15 my last two baby teeth will be removed.  Yes, I still have two baby teeth and finally, thanks to the help of a full time job’s dental benefits I have begun fixing the issue.  What does this major dental transition coincide with?  I will begin graduate school at Columbia in New York this fall.  I have worked for Boulder County for nearly three years and lived here for nearly eleven.  Time to move on, try something new, take a bigger risk than I ever have and all this will take place as I lose the last of my baby teeth.  People are proud of me, excited for me, a little sad.  Me?  I am scared and uncomfortable and anxious and all I can think about are the two holes that will be left in my mouth after June 15.  Is there more to this tooth issue then I have explained?  Yes.  Will the holes be there forever?  No.

.transitions.  There are so many things I love about change but it is a powerful force that still evokes anxiety in me.  I want to make sure that as I move forward in my life I continue writing and blogging has been suggested by a few people now.  Many people do it, I can barely bring myself to read any of them, so why not give it a shot myself.  For the few technological strengths I have, posting on the internet (with the possible exception of Facebook) is not one of them.  Readers, if I have or will have readers, please bare with me as I attempt this.

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