I worked my way through the last two years of college doing direct care at an ACR Home in Woodbury. I loved every minute of my job, but I wasn’t planning on making a career of it. The first time my ACR residential supervisor (RS) asked me if I would be interested in becoming a RS I was a senior in college. My response was quick and to the point: no. I was finishing up my student teaching, and I had my heart set on having my own classroom and working with students. After all, that is what I had spent the last 4 years of my life learning how to do.
She didn’t give up though. A month later, she posed the question again, this time as she was preparing to leave her supervisor role at the home where I had been working direct care for 2 years, the home where I knew the residents like the back of my hand and had spent countless hours learning, advocating, and developing friendships. This time I hesitated. I was graduating in the middle of the school year—December—and surely wouldn’t find a teaching job until the Fall….and my student loan repayment would be starting soon…and my lease was ending…and wouldn’t it just be easier on my residents and co-workers if I just took the position, to eliminate them having to get to know someone new? Turns out I was hooked.
After taking a supervisory class on the importance of commitment to our residents (pre-RS commitment bonuses!) I realized that my initial thought of becoming an RS for just six months was not going to work and, in fact, I might actually never end up teaching in the way that I had prepared for in college. It wasn’t a realization I stumbled upon with regret, instead it came with full acceptance. I realized that my college degree was valuable for expanding my horizons, but that those same skills I learned in preparing to be a teacher—those were all things I could still do as an RS.
Being the Gatekeeper for Great Direct Care
Being an RS was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but without a doubt it was also the best experience of my life. As a 22-year-old college graduate, I was suddenly overseeing almost every aspect of direct care for the four men whose home I managed, while also coordinating and supervising 15 staff. I was the gatekeeper for every question, concern, and idea from my staff, my residents, guardians, and case managers. I had never been such an essential member of a team before. As a live-in supervisor, I fully embraced the good and bad that go along with being on-call and living where you work. For me, at that time in my life, it was my favorite.
Over the years I’ve met with many RS applicants and direct care staff who expressed interest in the RS position and I always say the same thing: the RS position is not a role that you can be convinced to do. It’s a life style. You have to want to do it. Wanting to do it, and finding meaning in it will help you on the hard days.
And if you do choose to become an RS? It’s bound to be one of the most meaningful work experiences of your life. It isn’t easy. But when you look back and see what you accomplished, how you made it, whose life you touched along the way, you know without a doubt that your hard work paid off and that you made a difference.
To learn more about becoming a residential supervisor at ACR Homes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.