The first session of Baptist Children’s Homes University (BCHU) convened February 16 at Mills Home in Thomasville. The inaugural class of ten staff members from Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) facilities around the State were introduced one-by-one as they entered the room. Supervisors, directors and BCH executive staff members attended. The University’s first session was led by BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell. His presentation was entitled: History, Heritage and You.
“BCHU was an idea that came out of a meeting with Dr. Blackwell,” BCH’s Chief Operating Office Keith Henry said. “We were discussing the ministry’s ‘culture of excellence’ and Dr. Blackwell asked, ‘What do we do now? What do we do to kick things up a notch?’”
Henry said the idea to produce a leadership and talent management program covering eight core areas topped the list of ideals. Henry envisioned a program that challenges participants to reach their “next best.” Blackwell asked Henry to prepare a proposal and the University was off and running.
“BCH has staff members who not only do their jobs, but look for ways to improve the overall ‘culture of excellence’ in their areas and departments,” Henry said. “BCHU wants to offer these folks an opportunity to look closer at how things work day-to-day at Baptist Children’s Homes. Participants will be encouraged to reach new personal heights.”
BCHU’s inaugural class consists of: John Adamcik, BCH Director of Human Resources and Safety; Kay R. Burriss, Assistant Director, Cameron Boys Camp; Brooke Child, Assistant Director, Weekday Education Programs; Arwen Elders, Groupwork Supervisor, Camp Duncan; Bradley Gearhart, Supervisor, Cameron Boys Camp; Bond Kiser, BCH Coordinator of Performance & Quality Improvement and Human Resources; Chip Theriault, Case Manager, Mills Home; Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications; Emily Waldroup, Case Manager, Truett Home; and Tabitha Ward, BCH Director of Marketing.
Henry says BCHU participants bring new ideas to the areas in which they serve. They are their colleagues’ “go to people.” They are problem solvers, they anticipate needs and they work to get the job done.
“You represent a great staff who do a great job every day,” Henry told the inaugural class as the session began. “You have been selected by your supervisors, BCHU’s admission board, and BCH’s executive team because we believe you are looking to reach your ‘next best.’”
Blackwell began his presentation by reflecting on the many who have come before and faithfully served. He reminded the inaugural group that they stand on “mighty shoulders.”
“There have been many who have led for no other reason than to serve children and families and to serve their Lord,” Blackwell said. “Those are your role models.”
Chip Theriault said that with the honor of being selected “comes a duty to meet the expectations of current and past employees that have made this institution so great.”
BCHU participant Arwen Elders said that she hoped to gain a deeper and broader understanding and appreciation for BCH as a whole. “Seeing how God has faithfully been at work through the struggles and challenges BCH has faced in the past is a good reminder that He will continue to be our guide as together we navigate whatever obstacles the future may hold.”
Reflecting on her first completed session, Emily Waldroup said, “Our first class left me wanting to know more and made me even more thankful to be a part of this fantastic ministry.”
BCHU’s admission board will review new applications for admission every six months.