From the Corps: Rachel Carey | 2018 Summer Training
By Coordinator Rachel Carey
As a HealthCorps Coordinator, I often get asked “during the summer when school’s out of session, what all do you do?” Besides preparing for our upcoming year on our respective campuses, summer is the perfect time for the Corps to all connect and collaborate with one another! Each summer, all Coordinators get together for three weeks of professional development training. Two are held virtually via video chat and takes place during a week out in sunny California. This year, I had the exciting opportunity to dive in and help plan these critical, exciting, jam-packed weeks!
Summer training is designed for all Coordinators – both new hires and returning team members. We cover everything from HealthCorps program components and competencies required for our roles to bigger picture professional development relevant to the world of public health. There is a lot of content to be covered and it is quite an undertaking trying to figure out to squeeze in to a three-week event. Two months of planning, endless hours on conference calls, and one giant master Excel sheet calendar later, we were finally ready to enter into our 2018 Summer Professional Development Training!
This summer, the Corps welcomed seven new First Year Coordinators and welcomed back 13 Second Years. With Coordinators spread out from coast to coast, we rely heavily on online platforms and virtual communication to stay connected. The first way we connect with our new coworkers is by waving through a tiny row of webcam streams sitting at the top of everyone’s computer screen. It’s definitely a unique experience from the traditional in-person work environment. However, it’s incredible to see how connections form across every American time zone prior to a physical meet and greet! We do our best to keep virtual training engaging and interactive. From full group sessions, to smaller breakout groups, and one-on-one mentorship pairs between 1st and 2nd Year Coordinators, training days are a full, robust experience! Our team building committee, the Spirit Squad, even hosted a virtual Staff Wellness Challenge and daily brain break activities to foster “community building” amongst the team. Coordinators will pay it forward by building community on each of our individual campuses year-round! As much as I appreciated the flexibility of working remotely during the two summer weeks of virtual training (with a sleeping pup often at my feet), I was also very excited to fly out to Upland, California!
Upland High School was kind enough to host our group on their beautiful campus for our week of in-person training. We were able to spend every day there learning from one another, collaborating with our teams, and practicing skills to take back to our own states and share with our students.
It’s always special when the entire Corps is gets together in person. We definitely learned a lot. My favorite aspect of training, however, is the ability to connect more in depth with my team members.
Our HealthCorps team is spread out across the country. This is incredible in terms of how far our impact reaches, but this also means we miss out on what I like to call the “water cooler talk” – those little, one-off chances to connect more with your coworkers in a traditional work setting. However, because we build relationship during training and virtually throughout the year on web calls and workshops, the second you put the entire Corps into one room, it feels like we’re one big family. I admire and respect each and every single one of my fellow Coordinators. My biggest takeaway from training was the affirmation of how diverse, creative, talented, inspiring, and passionate our team is. If we were all permanently in the same city, I think we’d be too strong of a force for anyone to handle! We all serve in our respective states, cities, and schools as individual warriors of wellness for the communities we serve. There is now doubt, however, that I have the support of twenty other bold Coordinators spreading from coast to coast.
I am grateful to all the HealthCorps staff and second year Coordinators who spent countless hours planning summer training. My biggest shout out goes to our fearless leaders and supervisors Natalie Tunzi (CA) and Megan Ling (CO), the entire Education Team, and the Summer Training Workgroup Team for working tirelessly to make this summer a success. Our three weeks learning and growing together was the perfect way to recharge and get ready to tackle another school year stronger than ever before! Thank you to this crazy Corps for all the laughs, for challenging me to grow both as an individual and a health advocate, for being my cheerleaders and supporters, and for reminding me why I deeply love doing what I do. Who’s getting the countdown started for January Mid-Year Training when we get to do this whole thing again?!