Name: Greg Sacchetti
Title: Workforce Learning Coordinator
Former Positions: Campus Supervisor, Assistant Supervisor, Youth Development Professional (YDP).
Campus: Administrative Offices (AO)
Year Started: 1997
What are the responsibilities of a Workforce Learning Coordinator?
My job as workforce learning coordinator is to oversee the agency-based trainings, like the new staff orientations, CPR certifications, and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) training. I’m the first person new staff spend time with.
But outside of the training center, there’s a lot of instructor training that we do. We have meetings with the TCI instructors. I also train staff to become instructors in the American Red Cross CPR first aid course. And we have RCYCP (Residential Child and Youth Care Professional) courses that we run here through the University of Oklahoma.
And then anything else I’m asked to do. I cover the front desk. Whatever is necessary.
How did you learn about your current position?
I started my career as a YDP at Highpoint. Then I became an assistant supervisor, a supervisor, and activities coordinator. As a supervisor, I’d started doing training on campus for the staff, and then coming up to AO, helping out the Director of Training with orientations. From there, I heard there was a position open and I decided to go for it.
What appealed to you about the Workforce Learning Coordinator position?
As a YDP, I wanted to work with more than just one group of kids. I wanted to work with more kids on campus. Then I decided I wanted to work with staff too. And training the staff, I realized I can impact all the kids who come into Hillcrest, as well as the staff themselves. That’s what lured me in.
Did you have relevant experience prior to coming to Hillcrest?
Well before I came to Hillcrest, I worked for the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department. So I learned about special needs populations. I not only got to work with the inmates, but I also started to meet families on visitation days. And younger kids were coming in. A lot of them were 17-year-old kids. And there was nothing like having a 17-year-old kid waiting to get into the van, shackled to go off to prison. And to be there with them when they were crying. Then I started to think more along the lines of helping people before they got to that point. That’s most of my experience, but before that I was in the restaurant field, and sales for a while.
What are the happiest moments for you working here?
There’s so many. There really are. Every time I think I’ve hit my happiest moment, more come. My happiest moments are helping people learn, especially now with training. Seeing people who didn’t think they could do it, but helping them learn the skills. And then seeing the smiles on their faces and the relief after they do well. Really my happiest times are seeing other people succeed.
I imagine when you’re doing the physical training during orientation, there’s a lot of nerves before.
There’s the nerves of the physical parts, but also the testing. You’ve got people with different types of learning styles or learning challenges. They get so stressed out. I really, really like helping those people, helping them see that they can succeed.
What are the hardest parts of your job?
People come to work here for multiple reasons. Some people come here because they’re really interested and excited, but others aren’t. It’s difficult to do training with people that aren’t interested when they’re in the room. And it’s challenging to try to engage and motivate them. I try to bring life to the training. That can be very hard sometimes and it can wear me down. Especially in the longer training, it gets tiring. But that’s really it. Other than that, I love what I do.
Who is the most influential person in your work life right now?
I can list off a long list of people who have helped me throughout the years and have been very influential. My supervisor now, Cheryl Richards (Director of Workforce Learning), is influential because she gives me room to grow. She doesn’t micromanage. She just supports me.
Michele Morin (Vice President of HR) would be a big one as far as my career in training. Because when she came here, she didn’t pick me for this job; she inherited me. I’m sure she put up with a lot through the years. But she really encouraged me, and taught me to be creative in training. She was really motivational in that aspect. They joke about it around here, but I constantly say, “Well maybe we should do it this way because that’s what Michelle used to like to do. And it looked really good when we did it that way, and it worked well.” So that’s always stayed with me.
I also wanted to mention that Jerry Burke (CEO) has also been influential. Jerry was a big motivation to me when it came to schooling, going back and furthering my education. He gave me little pushes here and there to keep going. So that always meant a lot to me too.
What surprised you most about the job?
Right from the beginning, it was difficult. Residential life is different. It takes getting used to.
I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like working here or not. I didn’t come to Hillcrest thinking “This is my career, I want to do this.” I actually had a choice between two jobs. I could’ve been a regional sales manager for Pepsi. Or I could’ve come to Hillcrest. I chose to come to Hillcrest. Then it really just grew on me. I was surprised when I got the training how much I enjoyed it.
Do you have any tips for incoming staff to have a successful orientation? Orientation is a challenging process. It’s two weeks that starts off with seven days of classroom learning. And it can be difficult for people who aren’t used to being in a classroom.
Come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn. I encourage people when they come in, “Let’s take this day by day.”
Do you have any general advice for new employees?
My advice for new employees is to give it time. When you leave orientation and get out there working, it’s a new, fast-paced environment. You don’t know the kids. You don’t know all the other staff. You don’t know the rules of the campus. You don’t know where the bathrooms are. So it can be very overwhelming. There’s not a lot of handholding. So, I’d like to encourage people to give it time. You don’t know if you like your job in the first week. You don’t know if you like it in the first month. You’ve got to let yourself get settled first and become comfortable with your surroundings. So my advice is to give it some time.
Everybody knows when they leave orientation, they can call or email or stop in with questions any time.
I also ask people to tell me if they are thinking of leaving. Come and see me first and let me talk to them for a few minutes because I think a lot of people don’t stick it out, but then kind of wish they had. So I like to be the last chance to talk to people.
A number of people whom I’ve gotten to stay who are now doing great, which is something that makes me smile. It’s so nice to hear, “Hey, I got Employee of the Month.” And to see the look on their face. So I think a big part of my role is public relations with people who work here at Hillcrest.
What kind of person do you think succeeds as a YDP?
I think there’s a lot of different people that can be successful in this field. Especially for the kids that we work with, the fact that we have so many different unique people that work here, different backgrounds is a strength. I do think we all also have to have the same core set of traits.
Jerry likes to tell people you need “The Three C’s.” You’ve gotta have compassion. You have to have competence, which you get through the learning process. And then when you get competent in your role, you become confident in what you do. We know that not everybody comes in with all those traits. It’s what we work for during the orientation process. That’s what really helps people stick it out. They become resilient.
Do you have any favorite stories about the students or staff?
My favorite student story is from the ITU and it’s a girl named Angie. I met her going down there doing orientations. On Day 2, we have students come spend an hour with the group and have lunch. We’d ask them some questions and then they ask staff questions.
So I spent an hour every three months or so with Angie in an orientation with a group of other people. But in that time we got to talk and I got to encourage her. And we talked about how she should word her thoughts and what she could say. And over that period of time, maybe five hours in her whole entire stay at Hillcrest, Angie really formed an attachment with me.
I used to hear from people “Angie is really excited because she knows you’re coming down again.” And it was always fun to see Angie. Every time I went down there, she’d light up.
Before she left Hillcrest, she asked if I could go down to her party. It was Recognition Day. So obviously I was going to go. And when I got there, she was so excited to see me that she came running over. “He’s here, he’s here!” She was excited to see me because she couldn’t wait to introduce me to her father and to tell him how much I helped her and how nice I was. And I thought that was interesting for such a short period of time.
What an impact you can make with a little time.
It’s something I’ve never forgotten and it was a big highlight for me.
*******This interview has been lightly edited and condensed*******
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