Sometimes life takes you down a path you didn’t plan, but the end result helps you find something you love. That’s the case for Brook Yoder, the cadet coordinator (grades K-2) at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Nappanee Clubhouse.
Yoder has served in her role for about a year, after working in real estate.
“I realized I wasn’t loving it and wanted to work with kids,” Yoder said. “Working here is an amazing opportunity for me to learn and to get to spend time with the kiddos.”
Her philosophy for interacting with the youngest members is simple: Be the person to them that you needed growing up.
“I always wanted someone to come alongside me and teach me gently,” she said.
Part of that gentle learning is teaching the kids how to interact with others in a positive way.
“It’s a hard balance of knowing when to say ‘no’ to them. I work on healthy negotiations. I think that skill helps them grow and mature.”
The job isn’t exactly what she expected when she started. There has been a learning curve in developing techniques to work with a larger volume of kids than she had experienced in the past.
“I was a nanny in high school, but that was me setting rules for two or three kids. Here we have rules I didn’t set up for them. So, I want to help them understand the ‘why’ of the rules. When they have that, they can learn to follow them a little bit better,” Yoder said.
She knows that she has a big impact on their lives and takes that role seriously.
“I can make a big difference for them. That’s why I come in here and try to be in a good mood for them,” she said. “When I have to put a kid in a timeout, I have a conversation with them. I want them to know I’m not angry with them, I’m just disappointed in the choices they made about their actions.”
Yoder said the support of the team in Nappanee has made a big difference in her success.
“If I didn’t feel supported by my team members, I don’t know what I’d do,” she said.
So how does she determine if a day has been successful?
“I can say I had a good day when a kid tells me at the end of the day I’m their favorite teacher.”