Life 101

She shows kids a wider world in books and theater

Imagine for a moment that you are the teacher at one of our multipurpose homes. The kids who live here are between the ages of 10 and 17 and they all have multiple juvenile offenses. As the teacher, you know they need academic help – but they also need life help. Many of them are in trouble because they’ve never been shown a life worth living. So, what do you do?

If you’re Lovey Steinert, you show them compassion and you show them a life beyond their back door. You introduce them to books and theater – even when they grumble about it – because there’s something magical about seeing a story come to life on the stage, and it often takes them by surprise.

“Some of them get really, really into it,” Lovey says. “One boy in class was reading the part of Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace with this deep, intense voice. He was better than the actor we saw in the play.”

Lovey knew early in her teaching career that she wanted to work with these kids – the ones with the “problem” label. She could see the insecurity in their behaviors and she knew the ways childhood had hurt them. Something in them reminds her of herself as a kid growing up without her own mother, an only child slamming doors, blasting her radio, and escaping into books.

But she had an advantage – a father who gave her stability and love – and some of our kids don’t get that at home.

“We just read the quote from To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus says you don’t understand a person until you crawl into his skin. I guess that sums up why I do it,” Lovey says. “I put myself in the place of the kids and connect with them to be the support they need.”

WHAT IS A MULTIPURPOSE HOME? A group home for kids (ages 10-17) whose repeat offenses are leading them toward more serious involvement in the juvenile justice or adult corrections system

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