Application Essay for Facilitator Preparation
applying for preparation as a formation facilitator with the CFHE,
applicants are asked to provide a personal statement about the
relationship of formation to your current sense of vocation, including
a review of the awareness-building activities you have engaged
in. The following is Albert Dimmitt's response. He's an Emergency
Medical Technology faculty member from the Penn Valley Campus
of Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City, Missouri. Al
response seemed to us both unique and typical. Only Al could have
recounted his dance with formation so honestly and clearly. Many
of us come to this work with doubts and questions, unsure about
what formation is and how we might respond to it. So we asked
Al's permission to share his response to one of the applications
questions, thinking that it offers a wonderful introduction to
a formation journey.
exposure to formation work came when our campus professional development
program distributed copies of Palmer's The Courage to Teach to participants
of campus professional development events. I read the cover and
promptly put in on the bookshelf, where it remained for a considerable
length of time. When I saw it there, I always knew I should pick
it up and read it, but there never seemed to be the time.
early spring of 2000 a colleague called and asked if I would serve
on a team to organize our district's efforts to implement a "courage
to teach" program. I had just recently become very comfortable
telling people that my plate was too full, and that I didn't feel
I could take on more. That's what I told this colleague, but fortunately
she wouldn't take no for an answer. She became very persuasive,
so I reluctantly agreed. The team met and put together a funding
request, but I was still unconvinced. I had begun to read the Palmer
book out of a sense of duty. If I were participating in this, and
advocating a program, I felt like I should at least know what I
As I read
the book, my response was mixed. Based on my background and experience,
I was very uncomfortable with the spiritual elements of its message.
Through the 1980s, I had been very suspicious of the "new age"
movement, and there were parts of Palmer's approach that, superficially
at least, reminded me of that time and place.
large-scale event in our district-wide formation effort was a retreat
that was held the weekend before the start of fall classes. As a
member of the team I felt it my obligation to attend, though I remained
skeptical. The month long "break" between summer and fall
classes had been disastrous. One thing and another required that
I spend my time at school during that period. By the time the retreat
came along I was wound pretty tightly, and all I could think was
that here was a weekend obligation leading into the stresses of
opening classes. At the same time, however, I kept remembering the
advice of my colleague when I would tell her I was too busy in the
summer to go to Taos, or participate in some other formation event.
"If you're too busy, that's all the more indication that you
need to be a part of this." Though it made little sense to
me, I found myself thinking about her advice as I drove out of town
to the retreat site. I was ready for a break, a time away.
twenty-four hours for me to decompress. I never think of myself
as being high strung, and most of my friends and colleagues would
likely characterize me as pretty laid back. Only late in the second
day did I realize how tight I had been. I felt a bit like a patient
going through detoxification taken kicking and screaming. I was
intrigued by the quiet times, and amazed at the calm exhibited by
our facilitator and several of my colleagues.
the first evening and the first full day I struggled with the process.
The promise I saw in formation work kept butting against my rational,
practical and realist habits. I was uncomfortable journaling, though
I enjoy writing. Although I'm thoughtful, I found the reflection
Peace began to set in during the second evening. I started to think
about the way I do my work, and how I wanted to do it. I thought
about the importance of my values to me, and the ways in which those
values have become increasingly compromised by some of my "practical"
approaches. I thought especially about a conversation I had with
a student who felt that I had "softened" or "sold
out" since one of her friends had taken my class. She was convinced
that I no longer demanded the high caliber of work that I had several
years ago. Through that evening and the next day I was able to see
(to admit?) that to a large extent that student was right. I had
become worn down, and discovered at some level that it was easier
to be less demanding, even if it felt cheap at the same time.
come to appreciate time for reflection, and have even begun to set
aside time to allow it. The insights I have gained through participation
in the retreat and the subsequent reorientation of my teaching life
have altered my approaches significantly. I enter the classroom
with a degree of respect and anticipation that I've not experienced
in some time.
Penn Valley College
Metropolitan Community Colleges
Kansas City, Missouri