Author – Frank Ortman – Director of Training and Staff Development
While the end of 2020 was a welcome relief for most, it was also a time of celebration for others. The inaugural class of Growth Academy participated in their final session and successfully completed the program. The 15 graduates from Growth Academy 2020 hail from across The Arc including Residential, CounterPoint, Renovations, Rivendale, Monett, Administration, Community Connections and Joplin. The internal leadership and development program includes monthly sessions on a litany of subjects ranging from Clifton Strengths Exploration to advocacy and resources for management and employees.
Growth Academy is a challenging program that asks for dedication and passion from those that participate. However, when the year started, none of us could have anticipated what was to come. A global pandemic that halted all in-person trainings at The Arc and threatened the continuation and completion of Growth Academy. Thankfully, the quick thinking and resourcefulness of Candece Hite, the program’s manager, allowed for everyone to stay connected and adapt to a virtual learning environment. The participants persevered and continued to stay engaged with monthly sessions conducted virtually or in person at the host site Efactory.
The best laid plans for a monumental graduation ceremony were unceremoniously interrupted by the continuation of the pandemic. Again, Candece Hite was able to use her unmatched skill to create a personalized graduation experience that included invitations to their Direct Supervisor and Program Director. It is not what all of us involved in the program imagined at the start of 2020, but 2020 was an unimaginable year. The dedication, passion and perseverance shown by all who participated in Growth Academy this year made clear that they were meant to be chosen and all have bright futures ahead.
Growth Academy 2021 is on the horizon with participant announcements soon to follow. A new reality meets us, but the community and support created by Growth Academy 2020 has paved the way for limitless possibilities for the participants of Growth Academy 2021.
*Please note: some pictures were taken before COVID-19.