Archive for November 2018

Ironwood Maine Web Update

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

It has been a winter wonderland here on Frye Mountain as of late. 3 snowy storms in nearly as many days have blanketed our landscape with plenty of opportunity for seasonal activities. Students and staff alike have been all smiles as they navigate extra chores to winterize the campus on their way to new and exciting activities. As our old friend Dr. Seuss reminds us above, life really is what you make of it.

Life for our heard of horses is still something to be sought after. Our Barn Manager is ever present with her ability to teach our students how to care for the animals. Recently a seasonal blanketing protocol as well as barn expectations have just been released explaining exactly how care for the animals in the event of low temperatures or inclement weather. The horses don’t seem to mind the cool weather much, but maybe its because their oats are toasted in warm water.

In between groups, school, and chores this week, students had several chances to test their arm accuracy with snowball fights and a makeshift “target range” It is a wonder how quick a day can turn around with a 5-minute bought of epic snow ball wars. Speaking of the season, Students took a walk into the woods to find the perfect tree spruce tree to decorate their side of campus. Word around school is that the most fantastically decorated tree will warrant a few merits.

If you had happened to walk into the farmhouse garage this Wednesday, you might have been taken aback. Eyeless white faces in robes of plastic creepily milling about would have welcomed you. After a timid inquiry, I learned that the students were making paper mâché face mask that will harden, dry, and ultimately be painted at a later art class. Other students this week spent some time in a group focused on community service preparing natural wreaths. The students took time to gather materials and begin constructing the Christmas decorations which will end up being given to the local co-op for sale and distribution.

Regardless of the season or agenda for the day, there will always be an opportunity for us to complain and wither in uncomfortableness. It is so good to see that given encouragement and opportunity; our students are making the choice to appreciate the moments they have.

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
– Henry David Thoreau

On campus this week, there has been a lot to be grateful for. While spending time with staff and students, it is obvious that this group is thankful for both who they are, and what they have. In preparing to complete this update, I asked a resident if he would be interested in helping me summarize the happenings on campus, by interviewing several other peers. Here is his/their feedback:

This week started out with residents returning mentally and physically back to Ironwood from Family Weekend. Some took more time than others to adjust to the daily routine, but everyone was supportive of one another.

One Farmhouse resident expressed their thoughts as, “I loved seeing my parents after being away from them for so long, but while I was off campus, I really missed all my friends back at Ironwood.”

It has been even more challenging to get through the daily routine at the Farmhouse this week because five Blue residents are on their home visits.

This past Tuesday, we said goodbye to Autumn who was our master gardener who is spending the winter traveling, and is planning to be back to work next spring. We celebrated her departure with a dinner made from foods grown in the garden. She will be missed by everyone who has worked with her.

This week has also been extremely cold. Temperatures have fallen to as low as 4 degrees, and residents from the southern part of the country are not quite sure how to react. The cold has been keeping us mostly indoors but we have found plenty of opportunity to test our winter gear and it’s been keeping us all warm and toasty.

“I have never seen snow that sticks to the ground before,” said a Frye resident after it started snowing this past Wednesday.

Thanksgiving was a day enjoyed by all and it was topped off with an amazing dinner. The smell of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing filled the Schoolhouse, where both campuses stuffed themselves full of food. Frye and the Farmhouse spent the day together playing dodgeball, watching a movie, and visiting with one another.

I heard one resident say, “Thanksgiving Day here at Ironwood was one of the best days of their lives.”

I think that everybody enjoyed the day off from school, and I know that everyone loved the movie, “Elf.”

“It has been so long since I have even watched T.V, anything would have been good, but this was so much fun!” said one resident after this hilarious movie.

The past week has been full of joy, gratitude, and happiness. Everybody seems to be in a good mood as we move on from Family Weekend and Thanksgiving and start looking forward to the season of winter.

It was great to see many of you this past weekend and we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Ironwood Maine Web Update

It’s official, we’ve retrieved the rock salt and snow shovels from storage and put them to use this morning. On top of the years first winter storm, a parade of eager parents and siblings created a tremendous whirlwind of activity as the 1st day of Family Weekend began, today.

Launched by an opening presentation to all families at the Farmhouse School, the day is then set in motion with reunifications, smiles, laughs and yes, tears. All of the emotions you could imagine after not seeing your child for several weeks apart. After that, the families head off for a day of family therapy, experiential groupsand some free time to catch up and explore the campus together. Today’s “ice-breaker” called for each family member to take a moment to acknowledge what they were grateful for. They then wrote their thoughts on a leaf, to be clipped to a tree, all together creating an impressiveTree of Gratitude.

After a weekend full of campus activities, the Level 2 students say their goodbyes until January. This time together is a great indication of the effort and progress of Ironwood work thus far, as well as an indication of what work needs to happen in the next chapter. Level 3 & 4 students leave campus on Saturday afternoon to enjoy some well-deserved time away from campus, with their family in the beautiful surrounding area of rural Maine.  

This always leaves the question as to what happens to the residents are not able to participate in the Family Weekend event. Similar to the rest of campus, the day is set up to be positive and pleasant. Students spend the first morning as usual, tending to the daily chores and barn animals to then complete a typical day at school. The rest of the weekend is filled with fun activities to keep everyone on their toes and busy. Students cook meals over fires, take hikes in the woods, building camping shelters, and playing board games in groups.

As most of you are witnessing first hand, we are all grateful to be a part of this journey with you and are looking forward to playing a small role in your family reunification.

Have a great weekend!

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

In 1864, The “Father of Mountains” took to the swamps of Wisconsin to search for the rarest and most beautiful orchid. He embarked on a long and lonely excursion through streams, bogsand over many fallen trees. As the days went on, he became ever so discouraged at the thought of not reaching his sought-after flower. Yet, just before dusk, he found the captivating Calypso,on a mossy bank, with one small leaf, and one pure snow flower of a bulb. Muir remarked that it seemed so wonderful that such a frail and quiet object had such power on the human heart. He sat through the cold and darkness just to have a moment in the flower’s company, and cried for joy.

I shared this story with our students this week. I’m not sure if any of them currently have the capacity to shed a tear over the sight of a flower, but I offered the story as a way to encourage each of our students to make an extra effort to appreciate the smaller things in life. Here on campus, our daily routine can sometimes feel like a machine and when running smoothly, our higher functioning students can coast through a day meeting all expectations without much distraction. This thought, encouraged me to offer a reminder that each of us should make the effort to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. After reading the John Muir story, we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and went treasure hunting in the woods that surround campus.

Ironwood’s academic team has created quite a culture of book worms here on campus. All this week, I have heard conversations surrounding the many books that are being “devoured” by our students. The dinner table offers an appropriate place for many to discuss the topics and story lines being read and enjoyed. From the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to Unbroken, and even the classic self-help book, How to Make Friends and Influence People…books from many genres and categories are starting to capture our student’s imagination.

In “Experiential Group” this week, we tied up all of our students…so to speak. 😊  This fun and entertaining activity allowed teams of two to think creatively, work together as a team, and also have a few laughs. Small loops were made of string that were then put onto the hands of each student. The two students crossed their strings and had to figure out how to un-cross them, without taking their hands out of the loops. Our supervising therapist shared that in several years of leading this activity, only 3 had ever solved the challenge. No student solved it this week, but all have gained practice working as a cooperative team.

While we may never find the rarest object around each corner, there is typically something to be gained with every experience, here on campus. As we approach Family Weekend, we want to wish all parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members a restful and safe weekend.  Thank you for placing your trust in Ironwood.

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

It has been a sloppy slide into November here at Ironwood. Our campus has had to overcome dreary and wet weather for most of the week. Student were issued winter clothing recently and their weatherproof boots and jackets have been helping to keep everyone comfortable and protected from the elements. And while the environmental factors offer another element of challenge for each of us, students have been able to persevere and make the most of this past week.

Last Sunday was enjoyed as a traditional day of rest. Under heavy rain, students expressed appreciation for this opportunity away from their usual daily routine. Board games, reading, crocheting and relaxed conversations took the place of a cancelled, off campus trip.

Mid-week, the skies cleared for a bit and we were able to enjoy October for its most important spectacle. No, it wasn’t Halloween…it was none other than a campus wide whiffle-ball game in which we paid homage to the World Series. Students were encouraged to utilize last week’s session on feedback to chatter up their opponents with non-stop constructive (and positive) feedback throughout the game.

Campus extra-curricular groups are keeping everyone engaged. Students in music group are feverishly preparing for Family Weekend. In art group, students have working on self-portraits and pencils. Gardening group is cleaning up for the year, pulling up all organic matter and placing straw over the beds to limit erosion over the winter. Wilderness groups are still enjoying the last bit of fall foliage, with long walks through the woods.

Yesterday, we celebrated a graduation and another has moved up to fill his place at the farmhouse. There are quite a few students trying on their level 2 purples as well.

We hope that all is going well back home and we look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming Family Weekend.

And…How about those Red Sox?!