One of the things that Fr. Hatcher, the previous director of SFM, promoted was local leadership. Rather than continuing to rely on "missionaries" from outside, he wanted the people of the Rosebud to take responsibility for the work of SFM. To that end, he encouraged our staff to pursue further learning and degrees.
Last summer we celebrated the graduations of three of our Sapa Un Catholic Academy staff.
Stacee Valandra received her Masters in Education Administration and became our new principal, replacing Fr. Jim Lafontaine, S.J., who continues to teach science and religion. When I asked Stacee what she enjoyed most about working at SUCA she pointed to one of our students and said, "That! See. Right there." Her favorite part is helping the kids "identify who they are and where they come from." In other words, to be proud of their Lakota identify and heritage. Along with that "cultural piece" she spoke of the excellent academics, the service projects which foster the students' "ability to go out and help others," and the way that the staff helps the children learn to "deal with their feelings in a positive way."
Tate Haukaas, who teaches 2nd and 3rd grades, finished her Associates Arts degree in Elementary Education. I asked her what makes SUCA special and she said: "For me it's the family atmosphere. It's the taking care of each other like family. It's not like going to work here but being with your family."
Theresa Leader Charge, who finished her Associates degree in Human Services, echoed Tate. She too enjoys "the family atmosphere, how all the kids know how to look out for each other." She also said that she is impressed with "the faith of Sapa Un, how it incorporates both the Lakota and Catholic."
Other Mission News
Sapa Un Greenhouse
"Coats for Kids"
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Fr. Henry Sands, Director of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, came to SFM to help distribute winter gear to children in three different locations.