This week, students have been experiencing a unique Maine winter with frigid temperatures in the first half and late spring weather in the end. We spent the weekend going cross-country skiing, and the later half enjoying the sunshine and warmth. Students at Frye spent their Sunday on a long hike and the evening with a meal cooked over a fire. I believe being away from all of the distractions and enjoying the outside makes it easier to reconnect with ourselves.
Groups are continuing to grow and develop as well. This week I observed the Frye boys presenting as a dynamic and more cohesive unit. As a blue resident, I am very proud to see so many students progressing through the program. In addition to participating in this group, I also witness a great celebration for two new Farmhouse residents. The tradition for new residents entering level three starts with the students lugging all of their belongings up a rugged path called the grad trail. The trail winds through the woods from Frye up the mountain and to the Farmhouse. Students from both ends of the campuses cheer for them as they walk up. Once they emerge from the woods, their Farmhouse mentor (who is assigned to help them learn the routine) goes down and helps to carry their belongings. We all shake hands and offer them a warm welcome and congratulations.
One reason that all of us students are so successful is all of the hard work from the direct care staff. This week, I took a few moments to sit down with Nate, one of the Farmhouse Supervisors.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a FH supervisor?
A: Processing and troubleshooting with students who are getting ready for their home visit and graduation. Also, I enjoy seeing their transformations as I often meet the students duringtheir intake and spend time with them throughout the duration of their growth through the program.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities?
A: Working closely with the rest of the staffing team to create a united FH program, as well as support the development of positive culture amongst both staff and residents.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the difference at the FH that encourages growth and progressive change for the residents?
A: It all starts at Frye where they learn to except their placement and address their behavioral, as well as internal conflicts. Then, once at the FH, we expect students to be ready to participate in self-discovery. The FH sets students up with more freedom, privileges, and additional responsibilities. We ask that through this, each student engages in being more self-driven, demonstrates internal motivation and validation with balancing their communication skills. At the FH we place importance on 1 on 1 processing on a regular basis with their assigned pod leader. We pay close attention to developing self and social awareness, as these characteristics help them to understand the impact that they have on those around them. It’s a hard concept to truly understand, but at Frye the students give up their freedoms in purpose to earn it all back.
Q: What would you want to tell parents?
A: That I stand behind Ironwood 100% and would personally recommend this program to others. I truly would not work at Ironwood if I didn’t believe in the program. I know this may sound cheesy, but after working here for over 5 years, I’ve experienced overwhelming examples of wonderful transformations.
Q: Would you rather go sky diving or cave diving?
A: Definitely cave diving! I also love spelunking. I would be very scared, but I know I’d love every second of it.
A theme that seems important in this update is that although this program is tough, it is absolutely worth it, not just for the students, but also for everyone who is a part of it. In my opinion,I am very grateful for the internal changes that now show externally that I am proud of.