Archive for December 2018

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“I will promise to be true to myself, because I am the only person I can truly count on.”


This week at Ironwood, both the Frye and Farmhouse residents have been participating in numerous activities that have raised the holiday spirit and produced New Year’s resolutions and program goals. 

​Here on campus, preparing for Christmas and other holidays have been a big task, both at Frye and the Farmhouse. Down at Frye, the boys and girls have been caught up in the throes of Christmas decoration competitions. The boys decided to go with the “more the merrier” theme, while the girls perfectly crafted a few glorious decorations and trimmings. Rumor has it that the best dressed room will award its occupants with a pizza party! Up at the Farmhouse, decorating has been made competition-free, but an activity that was all-inclusive and thoughtful. Also, at the Farmhouse, all received ugly sweaters to bring to the weekend musical play, “Elf”. It was evident that everyone had a great time off campus, while at the musical. 

​DBT this week was especially significant as the meeting was designed to celebrate the holiday season while integratingthe DBT skills of mindfulness and grounding. This was accomplished by focusing on our 6 senses; sight, feel, sounds, smell, taste, and finally, movement! To represent the senses, the DBT group split into smaller groups and each did an activity that focused on one of the senses. With Christmas picture books representing sight, cinnamon cookies for smell, drawing cards for movement, music for sound, decorating and eating treats for taste, and feel. It was an impactful group as it helped resident develop a more positive outlook on the holiday season and the new year ahead. 

​All of these activities do not postpone our day-to-day demands, however, cooking and preparing for Christmas eve and day has especially been an uplifting and positive experience for many residents. Cooking these “huge” meals bring a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, building up positive experiences during the holiday season and excitement at the dinner table. 

​Joy, hope, and gratitude during this holiday season willhopefully carry on and inspire new traditions and resolutions for future Christmas celebrations and in general life for the new year and beyond. Family remains the center of thought, as 2018 ends and we prepare for a promising New Year.

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“To the world you may be one person but to that one person you may be the world.”

Dr. Seuss

​We can only imagine that many of the staff and residents are feeling a sense of relief that the week has come to an end. While still true, this feeling does not stem from long days, or physical taxation. Rather, it is a result of the many successes and accomplishment of our students. This week, it is ever more understood that the rewards of progress can take a lot out of you.  To engage in pure trust, a willingness to be accepting, vulnerable, honest, and driven takes far more energy than shoveling snow. Yet, our residents constantly rely on these traits and thisreflection (of ours) comes from a series of 5 graduations in just one week! Our appreciation goes to them, as they head home with a clearer understanding of how this complex world works and how important family and GOOD friend are in maintaining a life of success.

Holiday efforts steamed forward this week with an atmosphere of both comfort and joy. Preparing for the holidays at Ironwood is an embodiment of community; no one act or gift is for any one individual; it is all communaland shared with appreciation. This holiday provides us with grounding for many learning opportunities, with one that stands out the most…family. Looking beyond the many recent graduations, there remain many students that continue the challenging work of their program. In addition to supporting their continued progress and validating their feelings, we also have great compassion to all of you, as parents. We think about how you have fostered your son or daughter’s growth, shared with them that they are important and worked relentlessly in creating a culture for them that was globally rounded. Each of our students feel safe and comfortable knowing that you are also working within this program to help create a better familyenvironment, when this journey is over.

In addition to school, chores, and clinical groups, students continued to spend time spreading the holiday cheer. After this most recent snow fall, there was an epic sledding race down the hill to the Beaver Pond. Both campuses are knee deep in yarn as many create their very own holiday stockings and students are still designing seasonal campus “flair” with a variety of art project for decorations. 

You may be able to gather that this week has been grounded in celebration. Most have learned to understand that “celebration” includes spending time with family, decorating, offerings for people you care for and surrounding yourself with those who are invested in making your life better. We are excited to be able to create some unique traditions this season. While not the same as home, we will do everything we can to deliver joy and a safe environment of community, for your sons and daughters.

Happy holidays to you all, from all of us here at Ironwood. 

Ironwood Maine Web Update

“Good, better best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” 

St. Jerome

This week at Ironwood, students continued their motivation to succeed and to be authentic. There has been a strong sense of team-building and teamwork among the students and the Ironwood family as a whole.

The spirit of the holidays is in the air. The Farm House held an Ethnic Night feast, where the students got a taste for the culture of Israel. The students were able to learn about and appreciate the Israeli culture. Along with holiday traditions, there has been the lighting of the Menorah, the opening of the Advent calendar each day, and the decoration of the Christmas tree! The Farm House had the opportunity to see the Bangor Ballet perform their abridged version of “The Nutcracker.” Snowball fights, sledding, and winter walks provided laughter and fun for all.

This week, our therapeutic experiential group sparked some meaningful discussion in the boy’s group about group dynamics. The boys were split into two groups and given two pieces of construction paper, scissors, and tape. Their task was to use these materials to create a runway for a small, wooden ball to roll on. The group that could keep the ball moving and on the track won.

In smaller groups, the boys discovered the incredible teamwork and communication they were capable of and became motivated to do their part in the group to support one another. The boys all agreed a change needed to happen to improve the group’s function as a whole; it starts with individual effort.

The students this week served their community by baking and decorating cookies to be enjoyed by community members and organized a system to get the job done well. It was a creative and rewarding experience!

In music class, the students contributed the song choices for the next Family Weekend. They worked as a team to make sure all opinions were acknowledged and considered. Each week, the music class allows students to showcase their talent and produce a performance they can be proud of.

Ironwood has provided students with the support to keep moving forward and persevere through difficult change, which ultimately leads to personal growth and repair. The simple pleasures of the holiday season have inspired the students to hold onto their motivation, recognize the strength within them, and be invested in their success!

Ironwood Maine Web Update

In the coming weeks. we will be rotating “authorship” of the Family Weekend Update to one of our senior level residents, hoping that this altering perspective will be appreciated by all of you, back home. For this week, we are including the format that will be shared as a guide to our future, resident reporters:

QUOTE: This quote should be both meaningful and related somehow to a “theme of the week”

Empathy – (n.) the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.

INTRODUCTION: This should be a brief summary of what you plan to talk about, explaining the theme of your processing of events.

All throughout the week here at Ironwood, we’ve had a variety of opportunities to grow by way of others. Just living in this residential setting, we are exposed to a wealth of experiences that teach us about the world around us, our peers, teachers and ourselves.

CAMPUS OVERVIEW: This first section should cover a general overview of the week at both Frye and the Farmhouse campus. Group dynamics, recent changes, or seasonal fun as examples. Not a lot of detail is needed, but try to give a good overview of points of interest.

The winter season holidays are still in full effect here on the Ironwood campus. There has been a consistent drizzling of snow to support our efforts in making Ironwood as cheerful as possible. Students have been decorating their trees, making wreaths, engaging in snow ball wars, and participating in Hanukkah. All students are encouraged to participate in the cultural immersion of the holiday, while campuses partake in the lighting of the Menorah. This experience offers a great opportunity for each of us on campus to gain a deeper insight and respect of alternative heritages and perspectives.

THERAPEUTIC GROUP(s): Pick one group that had a significant impact on you or a student that you “interview” this week. (Peer groups, Experientials, EAP, DBT) Explain the session concept and activity. Share what you felt was impactful and how it relates to the theme of the weekly update

In our therapeutic experiential group this week, the students participated in a blind drawing activity in which each was given a drawing to describe using lines and shapes only to the chosen artist. The artist could not see the group and the group could not see the artist. The challenge was that directions could only be dictated one word at a time and each member of the group needed to contribute. This activity brought some conflict to the surface in the boy’s group as some residents became impatient and intolerant of others, who had difficulty with the activity. Discussion then followed around how to respectfully engage in conversation when feeling frustrated or annoyed by another person, along with the problems associated with assuming what another person is thinking or feeling.

ENRICHMENT ACTIVITY(s): Pick one or Two of the enrichment groups that had the most positive effect on you this week. (culinary, exercise, music, nightly meditation, wilderness, etc.) Explain in detail the activity or event. Why it was so remarkable to you and/or the other students, and how it relates to the theme of the update.

This week in character development with Ethan, we dove into the quality of Empathy. Like most of the traits covered already, this is one that I think is essential for our students. Through a variety of examples, it was hoped that students could understand and acknowledge the differences between Empathy and Sympathy and when it is best to utilize each. Empathy is an essential trait to help us interact with others in our world and to maintain strong relationships with the people in our lives. In an effort to help teach these concepts, this week’s role model was Helen Keller. She was a great example for us all to see how to overcome obstacles in our lives.

In Social Skills group, the students engaged in a sort of Class Debate expressing opposing points, using critical arguments to support their position. Topics that were debated ranged from whether or not students should have hot apple cider every Sunday, the name of the outdoor bathroom facilitates, to more lighthearted topics such as, supporting or opposing whether Ironwood should become an underwater campus. After some lively debates, students discussed their process in which they formed their arguments, how they elected to contribute to the discussion and if they felt that they were listened to (respectfully) during the debate.

CONCLUSION: In a few sentences, try to summarize the entire post in relation to a particular theme. Express how you hope the readers can utilize the shared insight in their own way.

The opportunities this week to learn about ourselves and the people around us were copious this week. In this time of holiday spirit, it is ever so obvious that being able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes is important for our own success. We hope that each of you have had similarly rewarding experiences this week and will be able to enjoy a restful December weekend.

Ironwood Maine High School Graduations

We are getting ready for nine Ironwood High School graduations in the coming weeks…NINE!  This is a record breaker in our 12 year history, as our fully licensed and accredited school is preparing more and more students for college admissions, post-Ironwood.  When parents first reach out to us, the educational prognosis for their teen is most uncertain. As these bright boys and girls become engaged in our programming, their success in the classroom often follows.  This is what everyone is hoping for after all and we’d like to acknowledge our amazing educators for all that has gone in to the development of these nine diplomas.