Ironwood Maine Web Update

“One of life’s lessons is always moving on. It’s okay to look back to see how far you’ve come but keep moving forward.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

A Staff Perspective

This week, I would like to focus on the concept of “moving forward.” In the educational realm of Ironwood, instructors have the benefit of meeting students where they are at. They also provide the structure for these young individuals to grow as learners. As in any segment of time at Ironwood, many students have moved forward this past week.

​Three students have moved from level 2 to level 3. With this also means a shift from the School Yurt to the School House. These three have been working with Miss Kathy for weeks and each has made terrific progress. Kathy is the teacher who introduced these students to the learning structure of Ironwood, assisted them in maintaining lesson completion, and helped each of them realize their individual learning potential.  Now, they will be receiving instruction from teachers Skip and Monicque who will continue to provide the structure, and strong support, they’ll need to move forward in their learning.

 I have recently taken over the role of teaching sports to Farm House students. This past week, a level 4 resident took a leadership role by teaching the girls’ group the basics of lacrosse. It was nice to see the attentiveness of these students during the instruction by one of their peers. This in itself shows growth and the willingness to gain more knowledge. It was so rewarding to see this interaction and made my job easy. All of the girls in the group asked if they could play lacrosse again next week. Again, all of them positively thinking ahead, moving forward.

​Monicque has been teaching a poetry unit once a week. Most of the students in the boys’ group, at the beginning of the unit a few weeks ago, were skeptical on whether or not poetry would be enjoyable. After this past week’s class, nearly all of the boys have presented their own poems and are completely engaged with the material. One of the best titles I heard from a student creative piece was, “An Ode to My Can of Arizona Ice Tea”. I also overheard one of the younger students say, “Wow, I thought I wouldn’t like poetry, but I really do like it!” These are examples of our level 3 and 4 students, even with the presence of something being potentially not enjoyable, showing a willingness to try.  As they show this openness, they are learning new things, and move forward.

​Skip has recently started a Maine Native American project with Frye students. He has spilt up the students into four groups.  Each group represents a tribe from the Wabanaki Confederation. The goal is to have these groups present what they have learned at the upcoming “Knowledge Fair” which will take place during November’s Family Weekend. By that time, we will expect to see more level 1 students shifting to level 2 and level 2s moving to level 3; walking up the hill to Farm House, moving forward.

​The biggest news of the week is that one student has earned his Ironwood High School Diploma.  Many students arrive at Ironwood without the realization of how capable, academically, they truly are. Initially, some of these students have a difficult time with our approach to instruction. However, the vast majority of them quickly come to the realization that this learning structure does work in their favor. As they see that they can learn, get good grades, and successfully complete courses, an intrinsic motivation kicks in. It is so rewarding to see a good portion of these same students earning their diploma and moving on to post-secondary opportunities.  They leave here lifelong learners as they move forward.

​As I see the positive movement on campus by our students, I am reminded of the importance of not dwelling on past mistakes and recognizing there are so many experiences to look forward to. The instructors here go above and beyond ensuring students grow as learners. The ultimate hope is that students understand their true ability to learn, take this skill with them once they leave Ironwood, as they all move forward.