As a graduate of Springhouse Community School my memories and feelings of the place are so varied, plentiful, and tangled up together that I found it very difficult to decide what to highlight. I could talk about the strong sense of family between students and teachers or the amazing chances I had to study what I was passionate about. I could also talk about the unique connection to the community that the school has, both through student mentorships with local experts, and through bigger projects I participated in, like performing music in the Floyd Radio Show program. But I think the best way to describe all the complex things that Springhouse is to me is with an analogy of writing a blog entry such as this one.
I start by finding some free time to sit down and write. I type out a sentence or two about my thoughts on the subject. I frown and delete them. I decide to brainstorm and write down as much as I can think of. I look over everything I’ve written. “Is this idea too cheesy?” “Why is my writing always so long winded?” “ I should pick a topic that is more exciting than this!” I delete all the drafts I don’t like. My page is empty again. I go onto some other activity and procrastinate on doing any more writing. Several weeks pass. I lose all the leisure time I once had. I sit down again, this time with the fear of death in my heart, and hash out a few more paragraphs. Nothing seems right. I consider going back to my very first idea. “Is it really that bad?” I think to myself. “Of course it is. It’s so uninteresting!” “People won’t want to read something so boring.” “Or maybe I’m scared to write about it because it’s true. Because it’s vulnerable.” I step outside my comfort zone and start to type.
The reason this experience was so similar to Springhouse for me is because they both involve me struggling and failing until I learn to be confident in myself or my work. On the surface, Springhouse is an educational institution. There are classes and field trips, electives and presentations, but Springhouse also taught me about finding my growing edge. For me, Springhouse had the rare, and sometimes unwanted, quality of bringing my unhealthy behaviors to the surface where I could look at and address them. Habits I had like my fear of leadership, my ubiquitous procrastination (as seen above), and my deep rooted people-pleasing tendencies were all holding me back, but I would avoid addressing them whenever possible.
The biggest blessing for me at Springhouse was that my teachers were always vigilant enough to hold me to my commitments and goals. So whenever I fell short on something I had set out to do, they were ready to help me figure out where things had gone wrong, and how I could grow from my misstep.
I have one particular memory of coming to math class to find that a plethora of students had all neglected to do their homework. But instead of getting angry or penalizing us in some way, my teacher Ezekiel sat down and asked us what events had lead us to not complete our assigned work. Students spoke about the various events and choices that had lead them to that moment and when we were done, the rest of our class was spent discussing how we could change these patterns going forward. To me that was the real difference between the psychology of Springhouse and that of other schools. They knew that a personal commitment will always hold more weight than the simple threat of a bad grade.