Archive for February 2019

Ironwood Maine Web Update

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankle

Throughout the week here at Ironwood, we have had plenty of opportunities to grow through change. One of those opportunities came with a change in our weekly schedule. Despite the alteration to our learned routines, we have all been able to be resilient. Change offers gratitude and sense of respect for alternative perspective and approaches, and how to adapt to situations as they present.  

In our therapeutic experiential group, we participated in forming a square out of a long rope while blindfolded exercise. Each student took hold of the rope with two hands, lowered their blindfolds, and was given instructions to form a square as a group. This activity brought conflict and resolution. Students worked on problem-solving to find methods and strategies to solve the problem and create a perfect square. In a processing conversation following the group, students complimented each other on great team work and resilience. 

This week in character development, we explored the trait of compassion. By defining and detailing many examples of how to demonstrate this trait, students’ eyes were opened to a world that could be better if people had compassion for one another. I think one of the most powerful tools you can have to build a relationship with someone is compassion. 

Throughout our time at Ironwood, we can learn how to accept and embrace change that is both offered to us, and created by us. Change is scary, but inevitable…and necessary.

Ironwood Maine Web Update


Wayne, Direct Care Staff

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.

Ironwood Web Update

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

The aptly named poet creates visions of blistering winters with many a word. He offers words of advice wrapped in adventure, hope, fortitude and perseverance. Stories of hardship, the unknown, and personal challenges. This past week, under the shadow of Frye mountain, Ironwood could have easily been the scene of a classic Frost poem.  Even as I type, the wind sounds angry outside, whistling through the frozen branches of the nearby forest. An average “low” of 8 degrees with a wind chill topping out at -17 degrees offered plenty of our students to call on those same qualities that Mr. Frost characterized in his stories. Still, despite the unforgiving environ, the Ironwood campus and our students forged on ahead.

This week’s experiential group got “lost” in the woods and were encouraged to clear their minds and focus on observations, sight, sounds, smells, touch and taste, as they wandered through the woods. Some residents reported feeling low energy and sad before the walk and then reported feeling more energetic and calmer toward the end of the walk. The group made several observations about the sounds of footsteps, the many animal tracks found and feeling of the cold air/snow on their skin.

This week in “Character Development” we covered Compassion.  Compassion, like all of the traits discussed in this class, is important for our students to better understand and work on, internally.  While dissecting the definition and matching it up with real life role models, student will hopefully internalize the value in their own developing and unique “characters”.  As Maya Angelou would say…”My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” 

On Thursday, we reopened the Lakehouse, following a few months of renovations and licensing.  This was a big project for our leadership team and we are excited to have this resource available for many families who have the need.  Four upper level residents moved over from the Farmhouse this week and they are enjoying new responsibilities (and liberties), as they enter the next phase of young adulthood.

The week after family weekend is always emotional, for one reason or another. Students are exhausted, but inspired. They are hopeful, yet anxious still. It is obviously a whirlwind of emotions for everyone; however, the comraderie and the support of staff helps each resident remain focused on the future. One would think that given the post-family weekend and winter “blues,” that many would stall out…that hasn’t been the case for this group. It’s humbling to consistently see signs at Ironwood, that your sons and daughters are intrigued to investigate their “road less traveled.”

Have a nice weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl!