Name: Rachene Crump
Position: Assistant Program Director
Previous Positions: Residential Coordinator, Supervisor, Assistant Supervisor, Youth Development Professional
Year Started: 2005
You were the Residential Coordinator before starting your new position as Assistant Program Director (APD). How did you transition into the role of Residential Coordinator?
I was a supervisor for the Fernbrook program. That was when we had two programs here. There was Highpoint, which specialized in treating our students who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior towards others. And then we also had the Fernbrook program for students with conduct disorders, those students who were here for mostly things like robbery, issues in school, firesetting issues, and self-harm behaviors. The history of sexual abuse is really what separated the two programs.
I was the supervisor of the Fernbrook program. We had another supervisor for the Highpoint program for the same shift. We decided to go back to having the one program with one shift supervisor and three assistants on each residential shift. At that point we decided to have a second Residential Coordinator position open up. That’s when I applied for it. I was offered that position and everything else as far as the other supervisors fell into place.
And then did you hear about your current position because the former APD left the position?
Yes, Mr. Kirchner decided to transfer over to the ASD campus. Once that happened, obviously the position opened up. I was the res coordinator for at least four years. I was very much interested in going for the position to further my career here at HEC. I pretty much have a good relationship with all the students as well as staff. I felt like I could definitely handle the job. I know the campus front and back. There are some things I’m kind of [unsure] about. The things I didn’t know [the APD is responsible for], but I’m learning as I go.
What’s the biggest difference between the two positions?
Payroll, and some of the things that we track around that, as well as dealing with most purchases made throughout the campus. I was used to going in and approving folks’ time cards. Making sure they’re getting their time. But now [I’m learning the former APD would] go into eTime and do much more with it. The APD reports data and numbers to all these other areas at the administrative offices. Basically we’re doing reports. It could be anything from how much vacation time is being used. How many people are working over time because of vacancies. That changes up our money going out in a big way. It’s important to have all those numbers crunched to be able to stay ahead of the game, from a hiring standpoint and so much more.
I’ve always been more into the physical, hands on side of things; being on the floor, helping out with staff, supervising the supervisors and interacting with the kids
What are the most rewarding moments for you?
The most rewarding moments for me I’d say are just being able to turn the situation around. Dealing with one of the students having a really bad day, or a bad week even. Being able to talk to that student and see him change his mindset. That’s rewarding to me. I love when the students that we’ve struggled with here call back after being discharged and I hear they’re doing well. That’s a great feeling for me as well.
There’s this one story that sticks out. He was one of the toughest Fernbrook kids that we’ve had. [Since] he left here, he’s started a family. He’s a mechanic. Once he was safe enough to work [here at Highpoint], he started working in the kitchen a lot. In doing so I believe he built skills and a great work ethic. As soon as they discharged him, he got a job as a mechanic, made money, started a family. So that was big for me to see and experience. At that point, I was the supervisor of the Fernbrook program. And he still calls back to this day. That was over 5 years ago.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is when we come to that point where we have to discharge a student and they’re not stable. They’re leaving here the same as they came, or in some cases even worse than when they came. That’s hard for me.
Does that happen very often?
No, honestly, from what I can remember in 14 years I can count on two hands how many cases ended like that. It says a lot about the work we do with the amount of student turnover we see within a year.
Another thing that was hard for me is basically the further you move up in the company, the less time you spend with the kids. A reason I started loving the job is because of all this time I spent with the kids, things like shooting hoops, playing card games, just the day to day things with them in the dorms. That’s what had me fall in love with this job. So it seems like the higher I go, the further away from that I get. So I try to put myself out there. I put myself on the floor. I sit and eat dinner with the kids and things like that.
I noticed when we were walking in, it seemed like a lot of the kids were excited to see you and yelling your name.
It’s funny, because it comes across like they want something from you, but they really just want to say hi. That’s all it is.
Who is the most influential person in your work life?
That’s a hard question for me because there are [a lot of] people who played parts in me being where I’m at today. I would probably still be a YDP if certain people didn’t say, “You should try this,” or “You should try that!” We had a nurse here at one point when I was a YDP. She was pushing me to go further because of the way I interacted with the kids.
Also I sort of followed David Luckadoo (Director of Quality Assurance). As he moved up, I moved up behind him. He basically trained me all the way up. I watched how he did things. I learn a little bit from everybody. I’m like a sponge. I can think of YPDs I’m still observing today all the way up to Ashley Kellogg (Highpoint’s Program Director) and Chris Smith (Senior Vice President). It’s little things that I’ll see and pick up.
Is it things like, “Maybe I should try interacting with the kids this way?”
That kind of thing. Definitely. I’ve learned to be stern, fair, but not strict. Sometimes you have to lower the expectations and not look at things like its a battle. I’ve learned to be helpful, assist, and not assume they know how. All of this from trial and error as well as paying close attention to others interactions.
What surprised you the most about working at Hillcrest?
When I originally started working here, it was just for some extra money. I thought it would be babysitting, like I was getting paid to come to work and play basketball and do things I’d probably be doing anyways. So to me it was like babysitting or camp almost.
Once I started going to training, I started to see that there was more to it than this. I would see how people did certain things and I thought, “Wait a minute. This kind of similar to what they were saying earlier [in training].” And I would come to work and put that together with the kids. It wasn’t just babysitting. I’d try to work with them, counsel them, try to get them making better choices in life. Even if it’s something as small as how to shower properly or how to fold your clothes. It’s easy to tell someone to go do that, but to teach them so they can do it on their own the next time, that’s big to me. That was surprising to me that it wasn’t just a babysitting job.
[Also surprising is] how much you can grow in the agency. I was a YDP and before you know it, I moved on up.
Do you have any advice for new employees?
My advice for new employees is really just to be patient, to have an understanding that you can’t assume that these kids know how to do things, know how to regulate their emotions. And you just really can’t take things personally. At the end of the day, it’s a professional job. You’re dealing with young lives. You’re trying to put them in a better state of mind then when they came here.
The more you apply yourself and take this job seriously, the sooner you will turn HEC into a career move. For all you know one day you might be running a campus.
Any favorite stories of the students?
I do have a story. Fresh when I was a YDP, there was one student that was really having a hard time showering. He dressed nice, was really athletic, really good at sports. He was probably one of the cool kids in the dorm, but he had an issue with his body odor. So we were trying to figure it out. We thought it was him not wanting to shower properly or him pretending that he showered. So as we looked into it, [ we realized] that he didn’t know how to properly wash himself.
Once we were able to figure that out, the Assistant Program Director at the time David Berkel had me put together a visual of how to shower from A to Z. So first you wet yourself, etc. Sure enough, when the student went in with the laminated copy, he started doing his Activities of Daily Living Skills (ADLs) properly. He started smelling good, looking good, behaving even better. For me that was a big deal because it was like, “Wow, I was a part of that.” I actually showed this kid how to shower. He is 14 or 15 years old and he didn’t know how to properly take a shower. And no one put that together right off the bat. We just thought that was just him, he was just dirty. That wasn’t the case at all.
****This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.*******
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