The jobs program at Midland is remarkably efficient in developing self-reliance, leadership, and responsibility in our students. Daily jobs contribute not only to the operations of the school, but to students’ sense of belonging and ownership of their community. Every aspect of Midland’s daily operation is supported by our students, from washing dishes to picking produce in our garden. New students are generally assigned jobs in the dining hall as waiters or dishwashers, while older students generally work more independently in other areas of campus. Seniors step into leadership roles as job heads, guiding and mentoring underclassmen in their work. Throughout the Midland experience, students internalize the benefits of working as a team, knowing that we’re all in this together, as well as the responsibilities of mastering real tasks as an individual.
Every Sunday morning at 9:00, faculty and students gather for an assembly where the weekly jobs are called out by seniors. Unlike the daily jobs, which are more about general upkeep, this work period is designed to give the campus a thorough cleaning. Students break into groups of four to five, and, led by a senior crew head, spend up to two hours rejuvenating Stillman (where we eat) and the yards (where we live and study). Students also go with a faculty member into the hills to gather wood for the week's shower fires, gather vegetables in the garden, brush down the horses or muck the corral. There's no such thing as finishing early; students that get done before the end of work period move to other crews.
Aside from being models for younger students, all seniors at Midland must carry their weight as heads of jobs. This means that, after putting in the service for their previous school years, seniors take charge of the different aspects of the Midland job system. As job heads, seniors teach the younger students on their crews how to efficiently and appropriately do their jobs. In this relationship, seniors work with the younger students, and so their leadership comes in large part through example. A list of senior job heads follows:
Head of Kitchen
Head of Horses
Head of Middle Yard
Head of Landscaping
Head of Dishhouse
Head of Ranch
Head of Lower Yard
Head of Recycling/Trash
Head of Waiters
Head of Garden
Head of Upper Yard
Head of Library
Head of Mail Room
These roles offer authentic leadership experiences for the seniors, and teach them how important--and challenging--it is to be effective leaders. The faculty step in and instruct whenever needed, though part of the experience of being a head and a leader is to be faced with challenges that aren't easily solved. This component of Midland's program, begun by Paul Squibb in 1932, demands that all of our students--seniors and underclass alike--take an active, vital role in the running of the school. It teaches independence and interdependence simultaneously.
Midland has a crew of trained students who can respond to any fire emergency that might occur. We have a pump and a water system in place to extinguish small fires, and, in the event of larger blazes, our students can prepare the area for professional response teams. The Fire Crew trains each year with Ranch Manager Ben Munger '79, and will often volunteer to do trail work for the National Park Service.
Midland’s maintenance team remains true to one of Paul Squibb’s founding tenets – that Midland’s self-help plan “can give a boy a sense of pride in contributing to his own support and education, and can make him feel in turn that he is taking a real part in maintaining and building up the school” (Squibb, 1932). This team is exposed to new work challenges every day. Students leave each session – including myriad small building and repair projects – with the satisfaction that their work has benefitted the school community. Outside of this program, there are other opportunities to help with maintenance projects, such as Sunday work periods and class projects. A dedicated troupe of students called “Heroes” is on call 24/7 to keep Midland up and running. Skills developed on the job become useful tools students can use for the rest of their lives.
"We do shower fires, jobs, and sit-down meals. These are things that make us different, and better, I think, than other boarding schools."
~ William Johnston-Carter '10