Ironwood Maine Web Update

Every new chapter is an opportunity to turn the page and start a new story.”


            A little more than a year ago, I wrote about the concept of “moving forward”. I will be touching on the concept again in this writing.  I believe now, as the summer is quickly coming to a close, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the fun moments had and on the experiences that allowed us to grow. However, we all should have the courage to not get caught in the moments that didn’t go as we would have liked and accept that it is crucial for us to take the next step in our journey. 

             In August at Ironwood, many students go through the growth ceremony process. This means the chapter of Ironwood, for them, has come to the end. The ceremonies allow for peers and staff to provide positive observations of the student’s growth. This is an emotional moment; happiness for accomplishment is felt along with the sadness of seeing a friend leave campus. For the individual completing the program, the excitement that comes with this celebration may be tempered with fear of what is next to come.  Many students will go on to schools they have never been nor seen. The fear of the unknown most likely will creep into their minds to some degree. 

              I remember it was close to this time of year, 14 years ago, when my wife and I dropped our oldest child off for his first day of kindergarten. We knew he was nervous, but he was trying his best not to show it. The fact of the matter was, his parents were incredibly nervous as well. We walked with him to the playground to meet his teacher. I will never forget how after we hugged him and wished him good luck, his teacher reached out to hold his hand and they proceeded to walk towards the playground equipment so he could meet his new classmates. As his mother and I walked back to our vehicle, we were both in tears. This was the first big transition for him and we were unsure of how well he would adjust. Luckily, he did very well. It was his first big step into independence and the beginning of an educational journey that is still continuing.

        These transition moments, as scary as they can be, are needed for us to grow. For young people, these are times where they can use the skills they have learned to cope with fears and to remember that they can accomplish great things. In fact, they have already accomplished great things and should take moments to reflect on these. Knowing what we have accomplished is helpful for all of us as we approach the next chapters of our lives.

      Whether we call it moving forward, taking the next step, or the next chapter, a changing environment is not easy. However, if we recognize life’s transitions as essential for our personal growth we can channel anxiety into opportunities to shine. 

     This coming weekend, I will be bringing my oldest child to college. It will be the first time he will be far away from home for an extended period of time. He’ll be on campus where he initially knows no one and will have new experience with being independent from the security of being around lifelong friends and family. I am sure he his nervous. But, like 14 years ago, he isn’t showing it much. As we drop him off at his dorm room, and walk back to the car, will we cry? Will he cry? Who knows? Who knows how the next few hours after we leave will go. What we do know is that he will still continue to grow and have the opportunity to achieve something special. 

     In taking the next step, will there be mistakes made? Stumbles? Of course! I like to remind myself of this Nelson Mandela quote, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” The chapter of our lives is not meant to be perfect. If it were, how interesting would it really be?

Written by Matt Littlefield, Ironwood’s Director of Education

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