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Clint Rosson is the new executive director at the Red Barn Youth Center in Key Center. Photo: Glen Ehrhardt

The hiring committee for the Red Barn had just two weeks to find a replacement when the former executive director Laura Condon’s husband was transferred to Texas. They found Clint Rosson, a teacher who holds master’s degrees in counseling and education administration. Board Chair Glen Ehrhardt said, “In short order, we got exactly who we needed for who we are.”

Rosson has a 10-year-old and a 16-year-old. “I live five minutes from here,” he said. “This is a great place to raise kids. It’s country living with city access. I’ve long been aware of the needs out here and now I am in a position to make a difference.”

Rosson graduated from Texas A&M, taught school in Spokane, spent two and half years in Kurdistan, a year in Damascus, and returned to teach at Curtis High School in University Place and South Kitsap High School. He was ready to accept a position with another district when the offer came from the Red Barn.

“With his background, geography and his heart for kids, I don’t think we could have gone out and spent a year and found a candidate who fits this job better,” Ehrhardt said.

Rosson has plans to expand the visibility of the Red Barn. “We want to connect with the community at a higher level, where we’re getting noticed, even down to Olympia,” he said. “We want to bring kids in. We want to give them everything they need to be successful.”

The Red Barn serves middle and high school students as a place to socialize, do homework, access resources, be tutored, receive mentoring, play basketball, volleyball, soccer, pool, football and eat free snacks, some of which are grown on the premises in a garden tended by the kids. Inside are restaurant-style booth seating and a kitchen, game tables, and traces of youthful artistic expression.

One wall has been boarded up pending negotiations with the Pierce County building inspector. “After four different proposals, we finally reached an agreement on the firewall between the two buildings,” Ehrhardt said. “The multipurpose room is about 60 percent complete. We’re ahead of budget but still short of money.”

Rosson has plans for that space, too. “Cultural events, arts and crafts, movie night, plays,” he said. He would also like to expand into dual credit academic programs and into vocational technology, “to put skills on a resume to help them get a job.”

Rosson said he hopes to develop free dental screening and mental health assistance, and encourage resistance to drug abuse. He plans to build a leadership team and get recognition from larger markets for sustainable funding. “Larger grantors want to see a two- or three-year track record before they fund new nonprofits. We’re starting year three here at the Red Barn,” Ehrhardt said.

“I’m an old teacher and teaching is in my heart,” Rosson said. “How we teach kids makes the future. I want to get to know the kids on a personal level and let them know that someone cares about them. Kids know the difference between authentic and not.”

The Red Barn is located south of Key Center at 15921 84th St. KPN. For more information, go to redbarnkp.org.

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