After 39 years of teaching government to high school students, Greg Clevenger felt he still had more to give.
He chose to continue his journey by earning his Master’s Degree in Social Work from Spring Arbor University. Greg believed he needed to seize the moment and continue helping others through counselling.
As part of his Master’s Program at Spring Arbor University, Greg was required to complete an internship. With Highfields’ strong reputation in the community, his teachers encouraged him to apply, feeling that he would be a perfect fit.
“I passed the Lansing office so many times,” said Greg. “So, Highfields was always in the forefront of my mind.”
Greg has been interning at Highfields for 8 months and has enjoyed every second of it. Transitioning from teaching to counselling has been challenging, but he enjoys having the opportunity to teach clients in new ways.
“I help clients find resources that most people wouldn’t have trouble finding,” said Greg. “Some aren’t aware, and it’s my job to share that with them.”
Of all the positions he’s held, Highfields has been both the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Greg’s focus is on counseling programs like Parenting Education and Families Together Building Solutions (FTBS), and teaching children in the Reaching Higher after school program, where he does everything he possibly can to help provide opportunities to families. More often than not, clients can’t meet until the evenings or weekends, and Greg always finds a way to accommodate.
“Visiting families doesn’t normally fit in the typical 9 to 5 time frame,” said Greg. “They’re trying to make ends meet, too.”
Greg believes that every time he meets with clients, he’s making a real connection. He believes the time spent together, not only with him, but as a family, is the most important part of counselling. Building connections to each other and learning to grow is what makes each family successful.
Since retiring from teaching, kids have always had a soft spot in Greg’s heart. Working with students in Reaching Higher has given him the opportunity to help kids in a different way.
“Many people thought I was too liberal, but I’ve never been the kind of teacher who yells,” said Greg. “I strived to be a counselor to students, giving them respect and encouraging them to say what’s on their mind. Building that connection to them is more important than anything else.”
Greg has found a home at Highfields for more reasons than one. He’s never feels judged or looked at with a critical eye, and feels he’s treated with respect.
“Highfields workers have such pure hearts,” said Greg. “It’s one of the reasons I feel so comfortable being here.”
He enjoys working with such a close genuine team, and continues to learn from Community Services Coordinator, David Leese, as well as other staff members.
“Greg is a very passionate Master’s level intern who is eager to help individuals and families,” said David. “He has really excelled in helping families obtain the resources they need to improve their lives. Highfields is appreciative of Greg and his service to families in the community.”