Colleen Dille, Educational Coordinator
By Emma Vonder Haar, Communications Coordinator
This week marks the start of the school year for many of our clients in our Maternity program, which is a residential shelter for young women who are pregnant or parenting young children. As all of our mothers are under the age of 21, many of them are still teenagers in high school or are working towards GED programs. When you think about supporting a teenager in high school, what comes to mind? Making sure kids do their homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, helping out when needed on big projects, and celebrating success are a few things that one would think of, right?
Tutor, Mentor, and Cheerleader
For the young mothers in our program, who typically range in age from 12-21, our Educational Coordinator, Colleen, is a tutor, coach, mentor, and cheerleader. Every day working with our Maternity clients brings a unique set of challenges and triumphs, no day being the same. Some mornings, Colleen wakes our young moms up before school, making sure that they get to their class on time. She answers phone calls from principals, from guidance counselors, social workers, and school administrators. She coordinates schedules, helps with homework, and creates IEPs for the girls. Colleen attends parent teacher conferences and graduation ceremonies, celebrates successes and triumphs.
Colleen, a native of St. Louis, experienced a number of paths in the education field before coming to Good Shepherd. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with the plan of becoming a P.E. teacher. Colleen taught Physical Education in Nashville for a number of years. She went on to volunteer with Cabrini Mission Corps, where she worked with the immigrant population in Chicago. After working as an Early Education teacher, she was looking for a way to merge her love for education with her passion for service. When an opportunity to support our young clients as an Educational Coordinator for our Maternity program came up, Colleen made the transition back to her hometown.
Colleen is an essential member of our agency, however, her position is not required by our licensing, contracts, or accreditation. We see the services that she provides to our clients as critically important to their success. In addition to the valuable work that Colleen does with our Maternity clients, she also supports our Foster Care program. She conducts screenings and advocates for our kids and teens in foster care. This past May, three teens from our Foster Care program had graduated high school, with two accepted and one enrolled in college. In addition, a number of our maternity clients also graduated from high school or GED programs. For our clients, education has a major potential to open doors and create new opportunities.
Thanks to Colleen and her passion for education, she has made a lasting impact on the futures our student clients. We are so thankful to have you as part of our team, Colleen!