MAILING : P.O. Box 8, Los Olivos, CA 93441
Focus on Community Organization
We are proud to announce that Midland’s Jobs Program has won a Communitas Excellence Award for its nomination “Midland School Youth Learn Resilience and Teamwork.” Started in 2010 as an initiative of the Association of Marketing & Communications Professionals (AMCP), the Communitas Awards “is an international effort to recognize the spirit of communitas – people helping people.”
Nominees are judged based on the scope and effectiveness of programs, and winners include individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as global companies such as Toyota, Coca-Cola, and Barclays. Award categories focus on community service and corporate social responsibility, including green initiatives. Midland has been awarded excellence in the category 2.1 for an organization’s specific program. It is an honor to stand alongside other companies and non-profit organizations that are making a difference within their own communities, whether that be on a smaller scale like Midland or on a global scale.
Executive Director of AMCP, Ed Dalheim said that “By recognizing individuals, organizations and companies for their volunteerism and socially responsible business practices, we are hoping to not only bring attention to great programs, but are working with community minded leaders to make the spirit of communitas an essential element of every business.”
Congratulations to the Midland School community, and specifically to Andrew Gardiner, Jobs Program Faculty and the graduating Class of 2023, for leading this year’s efforts in a longstanding Midland tradition to build teamwork, resilience, and a sense of responsibility to people and place. One of Midland’s core values is for students to learn a sense of “being of use” that demonstrates integrity, initiative and volunteerism. We also congratulate all Midland students and faculty, since the Jobs Program is dependent on each and every one of them to be successful on a daily basis.
Since its founding 1932, Midland School’s mission has been to “provide a unique college prep boarding school experience to a diverse student body. Through study and work, it teaches the value of a lifetime of learning, self-reliance, simplicity, responsibility to community and the environment, and a love for the outdoors” Many of the original wooden structures were built by students, and it is still the case today that students truly run and power the school’s operations. From kitchen chores, to collecting chicken eggs, to feeding and caring for horses, to cleaning the bathrooms, students are not only involved but leading the charge. By the time Midland students are seniors (grade 12), they are running work crews and take responsibility for the smooth running of their areas.
Students assigned jobs take place daily for about 30 minutes. On Sundays or other assigned days, the entire community (including faculty) come together for a multi-hour work period. By the time a 4-year senior graduates from Midland, they will have performed upward of 500 hours of service to the school community.
Students learn responsibility, teamwork skills, and communication. Many of our alumni who speak with us about their Midland experience say the Jobs Program was the most impactful for real-life preparation. They learn how to be punctual; they learn that they MATTER. Until recently, Midland’s showers were heated by wood fires called “fire showers.” If it was one’s job to start the fire shower, and they failed to do so, everyone would feel that in a very real way. Similarly, if the dish house crew does not finish their work, there are no bowls to eat soup.
In addition to learning practical skills and problem solving, students are challenged in the way they think about social hierarchy. Midland has always been a place that offers tuition on a sliding scale, based on need. The school’s founder, Paul Squibb along with his wife Louise, envisioned a place where different social classes and backgrounds could meld into a group of hardworking students who support each other. In order to do that, some students would pay full price, others would pay none, and some would pay double. With Midland’s generous financial aid, we are still able to accept this variety of students. Before Midland, some students may not have done their dishes, cleaned toilets, or done laundry. However, learning to do these chores, to lead work teams, and to excel in them, always looking for that last 5% that makes a job well done, teaches them to respect this type of work and empathize with others in ways they would not necessarily learn at a more traditional college preparatory school.
Challenges for students who enter the program include time awareness and teamwork skills. Some students have not really had to keep their own time before coming to boarding school; a parent or family member has always been there to remind them when to do things or to ferry them to engagements so they aren’t late. At Midland, the students need to learn this skill, knowing that if they don’t show up for their community service, they will be letting down their entire team and possibly affecting the campus operations.
In addition to the immediate community, students take their skills from the jobs program and apply them to in other ways. For example, the farm crew not only harvests produce for Midland meals, but they also can fill up entire truckloads of organic vegetables for local organization Veggie Rescue that helps families with food insecurity. During our regular Experiential Saturdays, half-day hands-on learning experiences, faculty and students may lead other sustainability and community focused events such as community beach clean ups. Although these activities are not directly part of the jobs program, the skills and work ethic practiced in the jobs program allow students the opportunity to thrive when participating in more direct community volunteerism.
Money and resources spent or saved
Obviously it saves money to have students doing operational jobs rather than outsourcing or hiring out additional auxiliary staff. This then allows the school to award more financial aid to families and thus maintain our balance of students coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. Currently, 47% of students receive financial aid and over US $1 million is awarded each year. The biggest benefit is what the students learn, how they know they are being of use, and they know they have a critical part in the community. Many graduates go on to focus on careers that prioritize sustainability, diversity & inclusion work, and problem solving.
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