For our latest What's Your Why Idaho, we had the privilege of sitting down with West Ada School District Social Worker, Shannon Shayne,...
Passion Vs. Practicality
Perspective is Key
For our latest What's Your Why Idaho, we had the privilege of sitting down with West Ada School District Social Worker, Shannon Shayne, and Community School Liaison, Kamille Peck. Both women have dedicated their careers to helping others and their authenticity shined throughout the whole interview.
Did you know that there are over 400 children in the West Ada School District that have been identified as homeless this early in the school year? Close to half of those students are unaccompanied youth that are left to shelters and couch hopping to make it through to graduation. Due to the current economy, these numbers continue to rise month after month. The number one priority in Shannon and Kamille’s role is to come alongside these homeless families to help them find opportunities to change their circumstances. Both women work closely with the local shelters, where they take routine tours of the facilities, and coordinate donations. With approximately 40,000 kids in the district, they now have three Community Resource Centers spread throughout West Ada County. Desert Sage, McMillan, and Peregrine Elementary all host Community Schools for assisting West Ada School District students and families. These centers are staffed with amazing School Liaisons and Social Workers; like Shannon and Kamille, where they work to have these rooms stocked with clothes, cleaning supplies, school supplies, and other various needed items.
With almost two decades of combined work experience, both women show a genuine admiration for one another. Kamille gloats that, “Shannon has been an amazing addition to West Ada School District, and has offered a fresh new perspective from seeing how Community Schools function outside our district.” Going on her eleventh year as a Social Worker and second year at Peregrine, Shannon says that it was her lifelong path, she just wasn’t sure what it was called. When asking her the WHY behind her work, she stated “Why not? If not me, if not you, who? If you see the need, fill the need. There are so many people that don’t have the family support system - if we can be a little piece of that system then so be it.”
Both of Shannon’s grandmother’s were orphans, so she grew up hearing about their life stories which sparked something in her heart early on. After navigating the poverty systems as a single mother, foster parent, and eventually adopting herself, she was able to experience first hand the difficulties of being abandoned as well. Shannon started out pursuing nursing, and at one point, even owned her own salon. Eventually, she found herself working as a Guardian ad Litem for kids in foster care and helped represent them in court. Shannon also set a goal of racing her son to graduation, and eventually did complete her Masters in Social Work. After college, she accepted a position with the Kuna School District, where she led the way for the first Community School and Resource Center. Her experience in Kuna has only enhanced West Ada School District’s efforts and it’s clear why she is highly beloved and respected throughout the community.
Community School Liaison, Kamille Peck, found herself pursuing Social Work for other similar and admirable reasons. When asking her the WHY behind her career, she stated “I’ve been there, I’ve lived it. I wanna help other people navigate it and I truly love to see people excel.” Kamille has 3 children with long term health needs, which forced her to learn about the medical system early on in motherhood. It was during this time that she realized how challenging it can be for families that do not have the proper resources or income to navigate the complicated health care system. Early in her career, Kamille found herself working as a Paraprofessional where she aided kids with cognitive delays. This is where she locked into her calling once again and was more confident than ever in her career choice.
With such a demanding job, I asked both women how they cope with the stress that their positions come with. To alleviate stress and relax, Shannon enjoys taking time to camp, garden, or fish, and is always finding time to spend with her family. Kamille is also heavily family orientated, and dedicates Sunday’s to no work or school for her Masters in Social Work. When it comes to mental health, both women have set boundaries in their personal lives and are consistently navigating the everyday challenges alongside the Community School’s support system.
It’s no secret that the last few years have created challenges for everyone in their own ways. Both women highlighted the phenomenal community partners and how they have helped fulfill the shifting needs. Kamille stated, “we get to see the good in the community, and how much good there actually is. It pours in. People want to give to our spaces because they know it’s staying in our community and we’re doing good with it.” Some of West Ada School District’s community partners include the GEICO Local Office, Boys and Girls Club, the Idaho Diaper Bank, and several other incredible organizations that allocate their time and money to assist those in need.
With the resource centers still growing and evolving, it’s been amazing to see the instant support from so many local corporations. The first Community School in West Ada School District started in August 2017, and was originally located in a classroom inside Peregrine Elementary. Through local community partnerships, they were able to expand to their new space in January 2020. McMillan and Desert Sage Community School launched in August 2018. Everything used as donations in these Community Schools comes directly from government grants and help from the surrounding community. This is why it’s so important to be aware of local needs and support by strategizing together.
Another amazing aspect of the Community Schools is the Leadership team and Parent Engagement Committee. Kamille is on McMillan’s Leadership Team where she meets with the Principal, different specialists, and a teacher from each grade. Together they work to identify students and families in need and how the group can improve their situations. Making judgment calls can be very difficult, so it’s important to have the proper team and resources in place. When discussing the last few years, both women noted that the “gap” families have been affected the most. COVID, and the recent downturn of the economy, has forced many families to navigate the welfare system for the first time. Issues like the societal stigma around food stamps can cause a lot of parents to struggle even asking for help. Shannon shared that these families need to “take the first step - these people need someone to say it’s okay, let me help you.”
If you’re looking for ways to help, both Kamille and Shannon stated that volunteering and getting involved with a local school is key. Donations are great but can only go so far. Dedicating your time to gain a new perspective in these schools, and witnessing first hand the struggles students and families are facing, is ever impactful. There are several volunteer groups such as Big Brother & Big Sister, Lunch Buddies, and others to check out and get involved with. You can find a nearby school at https://www.westada.org/.
Passion vs. Practicality. Why does this seem like such an impossible balance for so many of us? We all have ways we like to spend our free time and then we usually have our separate skills that transfer over to our day-to-day job. The idea of having the best of both worlds for a career can seem so far off at times. For Kinslie and Collin Hartman, they have been able to incorporate both passion and practicality into their business model for the Treasure Valley Athletic Center. The dream behind the facility was first started by a young Collin Hartman who was faced with the question “what’s next?” during his second year of grad school. With a strong history of involvement in local community youth programs, such as Youth With A Mission and having coached at every level of volleyball, Collin knew he was in a special position to plant his roots
As the founder of What’s Your Why Idaho, Kinslie and Collin Hartman are a very special couple to me. I had the privilege of being coached by them during various years of my volleyball career at Northwest Nazarene University, and got to witness their paths cross into this amazing journey. At that time she was Kinslie TeKolste, and in 2017 she hopped in her Honda to make the trek from Lincoln, Nebraska to Nampa, Idaho. With over ten years of playing and coaching experience, Kinslie has always been drawn to the sports atmosphere.
Once she finished her graduate assistant position at NNU, she landed the Director of Operations position for the Brigham Young University women's volleyball team. This experience has translated seamlessly over to her work for TVAC and this facility has become a version of her own dreams as well. When asked for some of the greatest advice she received as a young athlete, she said “There is always someone out there that’s better than you and working harder than you-- this was something that motivated me in sports and in life. Not in order to be the best but to become MY best. It humbled me in my small world that I wasn’t always the best one out there. Made myself feel small to keep working hard.”
After tying the knot in December 2020, the Hartmans found themselves embarking on a new adventure, but this time as business owners. There have been several times that they can attest to faith over fear being what carried them through the roadblocks. For any entrepreneur it can be an intimidating journey where you are faced with a lot of unknowns and insecurity. Half of the questions you're faced with on a daily basis weren't taught to you in school, so it’s important to establish the proper support around you. The Treasure Valley Athletic Center has many moving parts for their sports programs. With adult and youth leagues, TVAC Kids, and IdahoOne Volleyball Club, there is a place for everyone at their facility.
In order to maintain some of their automatic success and work through the unanticipated obstacles, Kinslie and Collin have had to reflect on their own strengths and values in order to find the right approach. Using their strengths to serve their local community for the better is their ultimate why and helps keep them grounded in their day-to-day work. For Kinslie, she has been more so the anchor of the business and handles the behind the scenes work, while Collin is the communicative visionary. They have both been able to find their balance and bring to fruition an amazing place for so many to enjoy.
When asking the Hartman’s for their advice to young business owners, they answered with “sleep while you can, but ultimately don’t expect instant success and don’t get discouraged”. Patience is such a remarkable virtue, especially in our world today. Although there have been plenty of challenges along the way, Kinslie and Collin can attribute their athletic center’s continued success to the amazing team they have around them and taking it one day at a time. It’s been all-hands-on-deck from youth league coaches, marketing, and even just spreading the word. They couldn’t be more thankful for the support they’ve received in just the first year of their facility being open, and with a growing staff and community of supporters, the Hartmans are on their way to making a lasting impact on the Treasure Valley.
As a parent, it can be overwhelming trying to choose which youth league or camp is the best option. With so many choices, how do you find one that sets your child up for a fun yet safe environment? The people behind the programs can be what makes or break a young athlete's experience, so it’s key to keep that in mind when selecting where to send your child. Whether it’s a TVAC Kids camp or the 5am pickleball tournaments, you can trust that the people surrounding your loved ones are the best of the best at TVAC. From coaches to administration, they are equipped with not only some of the most experienced coaches in the valley, but more importantly, they have the mindset to help shape not just the athlete but the whole person. “Train With Vision, Act With Compassion” is their mission statement, and has set the tone from the beginning for whoever steps in their gym.
If you would like more information on TVAC adult leagues, TVAC Kids, or their Idaho One Club volleyball program, visit https://www.tvacsports.org.
“March 16th, 2020 was one of the worst days of my life. The board of directors held an emergency meeting to discuss the fate of operations, and whether or not we were going to be able to keep the doors open to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County.” The COVID-19 virus had just struck the United States and Director of Operations, Joey Schueler, was in a meeting with the Ada County Board. All employees were faced with so many unknowns and they had to make an impossible decision. Fortunately for the Club, they were able to stay open for those that needed them most while keeping strict safety protocols in place. “We were one of only 4% of all Club organizations nationwide who remained open…many day cares and youth care facilities throughout the Treasure Valley closed and laid off hundreds of employees,” Schueler said. Because they are deemed an essential service, the Club has been able to assist so many in need for what has become one of the hardest years to date.
Before Schueler found himself working for the Club, he was born and raised in a small farm town outside of Echo, Minnesota, population 300 and shrinking. Joey attended Gustavus Adolphus College from 1999-2002, where he received a bachelor’s degree in World Religions with a focus in Inter-Religious Dialogue and Conflict Management. While attending undergraduate school, Joey took a study abroad course to India where he studied Rural and Urban Development of Surrounding Communities. This trip was a transformational experience for Joey. Here is where he was able to capture his why in life. “Just like any world traveler, when you take a step outside of your comfort zone, you receive a vantage point to reflect on all you’ve ever known which also gives you the opportunity to critique your perspective along with where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you want to go moving forward. I came back knowing I wanted to make a positive difference in my own community.”
Traveling to India was more than a school trip for Schueler. It was here that he had his first experience with culture shock and was humbled by a completely different view of the world. While in India, his class encountered several marginalized populations in impoverished areas, in which Joey described as “systemic marginalization”. Here they saw children running around in their hand-made garments with a smile plastered on their face. “Poverty didn’t equate to a bad attitude, or horrible-ness…they could be happy in those spaces too, but also, I learned that there are ways to improve the lives of everyone in a community through upstream investments in that community. I also learned that the people themselves are the ones who should find those upstream solutions, as opposed to someone who was a ‘visitor’.”
Fast forward a few weeks to September 11, 2001. Joey and his classmates were still abroad and had just woken up to the news of the Twin Tower’s crashing. “We saw a lot of different responses from America, and so much love and support from the people in India. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Looking back, being 22 years old you’re in a place in your life where you want new experiences, and then this happens. I gained a lot from being in a different country during that time.” This really shifted the trip and ended up cutting it short by a few months. As Schueler headed back to the U.S., he reflected on his time and was determined to return to his own community to help shape the world in the best way he could. He knew he could make a difference.
Although originally from Minnesota, Joey found himself moving to the great state of Idaho after graduation in 2002. His only connection out west was his sister who was a teacher in Cascade, Idaho. Once he moved, Joey submerged himself in all things outdoors and
eventually met his wife Nicole. Aside from his involvement in youth services, Joey loves fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, and he and his wife are part of the Board of Directors for the Southern Idaho Sailing Association. Recently, Schueler was appointed as the Cruise Fleet Chair on their board. He enjoys spending spring and summer days on their twenty-five-foot sailboat. For Nicole, Joey, and their dog Drake, Idaho has become home.
After graduation and moving, Joey landed a job at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County, and has been there ever since. During his career, Joey has also earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Boise State and was invited back as an adjunct professor in recent years to teach Intro to Nonprofit Management and Collaboration. For Schueler, education has always been highly valued, and he was able to translate this passion over to his work at Boise State and the Club.
When reflecting on his time at the Boys & Girls Club, he highlights how their staff works hard to have a “pro-social” approach, and ultimately wants the kids and teens to buy-in on their own to the program. The Boys & Girls Club knows that there isn’t one solution to what they are faced with on a daily basis. The Club encounters children and young adults from all walks of life, which include homelessness, home transitions, etc., and they work hard to maintain safety as their top priority. Schueler notes that, “there is no silver bullet to youth development, kind of like everyone has an approach that works for them…those that come in with a positive mindset, the sky’s the limit from what they can get from this program.”
Recognizing the uniqueness of each child and working to pull the best out of them through positive affirmation, motivation, and discipline has created a generational aspect for the Club. Joey still keeps in contact with several adults that went through the Club in past years, with some of the alumni now leading the Clubs, and notes how amazing it is to be able to see where they are now in life. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County wants to break the stigma of being the place “where the poor kids go”, and instead create a safe space for anyone, in any walk of life, to come and find sanctuary. “I tell kids, we aren’t here to tell you what to think. I want you to learn how to think for yourself. Because the outcome we want for the kids is to be a healthy adult and a caring citizen, but I don’t get to label that for them because we all have our own path”, says Schueler. For a lot of these kids, it’s one of the first times they can have access to nutrient dense meals, participate in healthy activities, and feel like they are being heard by the Club staff.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County works day-in and out to maintain their five-point value system, Respect,Integrity, Safety, Empathy, and Resilience, and is equipped with a staff that is a “force for good”. They need someone who will ask them about their day and be consistent. Changing “do better”, to “I know you can do better”. You’re not another customer, you’re a human-being that we want to see be productive and successful.”
What’s Your Why commends the whole Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County staff and are extremely thankful to have a safe space for so many young children and teens to feel valued and grow into their most authentic self. Schueler notes that he thanks the “gracious support of the entire community. You know you are part of a community that cares when you have a Boys & Girls Club in it. Many hands make light work.”
Below are several ways that you can help with donations! Due to COVID-19, the club is not accepting volunteers at this time.
Club Wish List: https://www.adaclubs.org/get-involved/club-wish-list/
Ways to Give: https://www.adaclubs.org/get-involved/waystogive/
Planned Giving: https://www.adaclubs.org/plannedgiving/
“Overarching, in your heart you probably know what you’re passionate about.
Follow that path.” - Joey Schueler