Pioneer Spotlight: Savion Kirk
For many years, Savion Kirk has called the University of Wisconsin-Platteville home. After graduating from UW-Platteville with a degree in middle level education in 2013, he spent one year teaching in Illinois and Wisconsin before returning to campus. Now back at his alma mater as resident director of Brockert Hall, Kirk is using his educational background to prepare for another academic year and a new group of residents.
Some people may not know what goes into being a resident director. What are some of your responsibilities during the school year as resident director of Brockert Hall?
Many of my responsibilities are administrative. Some of the key responsibilities include supervising 10 student staff members, overseeing the programming and facilitation of community development, serving as the initial disciplinary hearing officer, managing the administrative tasks of a 265-person hall, advising hall council and its activities, and serving as a resource to students and staff members. Resident directors work collaboratively within smaller team groups to direct and coordinate various departmental projects that include areas such as staff training and selection.
The month leading up to a new academic year is especially busy for you. What are some of the tasks you must accomplish before the school year begins?
Training, training and more training! This year we took a different approach and had a week and a half of resident director training instead of two full weeks. This was based on the number of new resident directors who join the team. We then head to UW-Stout for three days of UW System mental health training. Then we have a week of training with the senior assistants followed by and wrapped up with two full weeks of training with the resident assistants. Sounds like a lot, and don’t get me wrong it is, but all summer we’ve been preparing our presentations, online video modules and much more for the staff.
What are you most excited about for this upcoming school year?
I ask myself this question every year to help be pumped up and ready to kick off a new school year. Although there is some routine in this position, there’s always something fresh and new every year. This year I’m most excited to work with a new student staff. The majority of my staff will be new this year (8 out of 10) and it’s always rewarding to watch their growth from the beginning of the school year to the end of the year. To watch the challenges they face and overcome and the accomplishments we get to celebrate. This goes for the students as well. I am always excited about a new school year with new residents. They always bring something new and different to the table. They learn and grow, and I continue to do the same.
What is your favorite part about your position?
My favorite part is definitely building positive relationships with the staff and the residents. I do weekly building walk-throughs to check out the staff’s work and to talk and engage with residents. I’ve been told I’m like the principal of the building and sometimes intimidating, so I like to get out of my office and be seen in a different light. I also enjoy going to graduation and seeing my residents walk across the stage and complete this chapter. Many times, the memories of their first year or time in Brockert flood my mind, and I just smile with hopes that I made a positive and encouraging difference in their lives.
You’re a graduate of UW-Platteville. What’s it like working at your alma mater?
Honestly, it was a rough start. I was supervisor to friends and old coworkers. I put higher expectations on myself as an alum. And I always had people, particularly faculty and staff, looking confused and asking, “Didn’t you graduate?” At times it felt like I wasn’t welcomed back and was supposed to just move on. This was until I switched my mindset. I am here for the students. Yes, I needed to dress more professionally and present myself as such, and even that was difficult for a time. But, I love it here! I think being an alum makes it easier to connect with new students and even prospective students. It helps parents at New Student Registration feel more comfortable because I’ve had that personal experience here and I’ve walked in the shoes of their student. I can connect with new students better and tell them, “I understand what you’re going through because I’ve gone through it too, but here are your resources.”
Interview conducted by Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.