Boy’s Ranch: Alum’s success proves residential programs can work

Jun 10, 2014

Angelo McClain

Angelo McClain is a social worker.  He never planned on it, but that’s where the road led. 

His mother sent him and his brother to Boy’s Ranch because she knew the path they were going wouldn’t have a good ending according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News

The first couple years were tough.  It was hard to adjust to the exacting standards of the Ranch. Going from the inner-city of Kansas City to the Texas Panhandle was a big adjustment.

“I was the 10th black person there,” McClain said. “Lamont Waldrip did the intake, and back in those days, everyone ate at the cafeteria at once. We went there to eat. There must have been 500 in there. I remember opening the door and never seeing so many white people in my life.”

McClain decided to turn things around the last couple years at Boy’s Ranch.  He excelled in sports, did his chores, grew into leadership roles and graduated in 1975 as salutatorian.

His goal was to be an electrician, but he caught the eye of scouts at the football game against Spearman.  They talked to McClain about college, what he wanted to major in, and what he planned for the future.  That night he decided to be a social worker because he wanted to help people. 

From there he was a starter for the West Texas State football team where he obtained his bachelors, then went on to get his Master’s from the University of Texas, and his doctorate from Boston College.

He is now leads the National Association of Social Workers, an organization with 130,000 members.

McClain can speak from a perspective few can.

“So many things I’ve been through,” he said. “When I talk to kids, and they say, ‘How do you know that?’ I tell them I’ve been through that. The same with adults. I know the range of feelings, so that’s helped me there.”

“And then over time, I realized I went to one of the best residential programs of its kind in the country.”

That’s high praise in a time when residential programs like Boys Ranch are under fire from the feds.   McClain is proof that Boys Ranch can be a good place to grow up.

The rest of the story from Jon Mark Beilue for the Amarillo Globe-News can be found here.