Showing Up and Building a Community
As I considered what to write about in this blog submission, a plethora of ideas all flooded my mind. I am a board member at Springhouse and a parent of a currently enrolled student, and I have taken both a shadow class and a teen parenting class at the school. So I certainly could write about a number of different things, but I think I will simply share a recent story about my son.
I am the parent of an amazing, incredibly bright, super creative, and impulsive soon-to-be 14-year-old boy. He has always possessed certain qualities since he was born, and it has been fascinating and exhausting to watch how his high levels of energy and needs for stimulation have evolved over the years. After spending his first six educational years in public school it was clear to my husband and me that this was not the right fit for him. After an extremely challenging year of homeschooling we signed him up for Springhouse in seventh grade.
Flash forward to his mid eighth grade year and it’s 11:00 AM and I am home sick. I get a call from Ezekiel, the Head of School, about my son and a situation that happened the day before between him and another student. My son has a history of having impulsive responses that are not always beneficial to a situation.
Now, many things could have happened in this scenario, but what did happen is exactly why I am so grateful to have a school like this for my son. He could have been given a punishment and shamed and degraded for his inability to control himself but luckily, what did happen caused a chain of events that I just find remarkable.
I’m on the phone with Ezekiel and he is describing to me what happened and how they moved through it. They discussed the behaviors, and dug deeper into why and how they are happening and how it affects others. This sounded like it took a long time. My son went back to class and one of his classmates was being particularly disruptive and was distracting everyone in the class. My son said that he couldn't focus and finish his math problem because of this other student and then, he had a moment of clarity.
After class he asked to speak with Ezekiel again and of course, he stopped and took the time needed. He told Ezekiel that he thought he understood why it was important for him to work on controlling his impulses. That he saw himself in this other student and how he behaves like that often but he’d not been on the receiving side like this before. He was sincere and emotional and he was fully heard and seen by someone he deeply respects and admires and who always does his best to show up for him. This all happened before 11:00 AM on a regular school day. I thanked Ezekiel for the call, I hung up the phone and tears welled up in my eyes for I was feeling a myriad of emotions. Mostly, I was feeling immense gratitude towards Ezekiel and Springhouse. That he would take the time needed for my son to fully understand these important lessons on a deeper level. That the environment and atmosphere of the school would make this possible.
Later that night, the students were showcasing their independent projects they had been working on since the beginning of the year. I was still sick and unable to go so when my husband and son got home, I was eager to hear how it went. At the dinner table, my son was on fire. He was convinced that he and his partner had one of the best displays and projects at the event. The people visiting were really engaged and interested in what they had been working on and he was unbelievably proud of the work he had accomplished. The conversation went on about three other classes he had that day. When he talked about each one, this enthusiasm I had only previously dreamed could happen, was pouring out of him and in this moment, we could see him fully present, alive and excited about learning. I could only imagine that if things had been handled differently earlier in the day, this would not be happening.
I believe in Springhouse because it is a creative, learning environment that values fully showing up. What I believe it means to fully show up in our lives is to wake up each day and truly ask ourselves hard questions about why and what we are doing. To have integrity, honesty and care for others. To be responsible for our actions and to give whatever we are doing, or whomever we are with, no matter how mundane or simple it may seem, our best in that moment. Springhouse is a growing community of people of all ages and different walks of life who consciously choose to show up the best they can and I believe this is the work that is most needed in this forever changing world.