Friday, April 29, 2016

The Deck House School; Doing Things a Little Differently

One of the many lessons I have learned during my 27 year relationship with The Deck House School is that lessons and those moments we all remember rarely come from the scripted times. Don't get me wrong, some great moments come from the hours spent in the classroom.  Also, yes I (somewhat reluctantly) agree that it’s important and necessary to have NEASC accreditation and reports, annual overview of our mission, and the quarterly Board of Director meetings; these all serve very necessary and important functions in the running of the school.  All that being said, I feel that it is very important for all of us, staff and students alike, to remember that more often than not it’s the little, unscripted things which stick with us.

In the spirit of painting the full picture, allow me some latitude here.  

Like many schools, we feel community service is an important part of what we do.  Let’s be blunt: a lot of programs have community service programs which look good on a website, a grant application, or, frankly, when speaking to parents.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these programs, I know first hand a great deal of very good work comes out of them. That being said, here at Deck House, we (shockingly) do things a little differently.  Rather than explaining our community service program, let me just tell you about yesterday.

Thursdays have become our community service day.  Keir and I have reconfigured the schedule to allow the guys to have a block of time in the mornings when we can focus on our local projects.  Yesterday, Keir went to Boothbay Harbor to work with one of the guys at the local community center, and I went to Wiscasset to give a few hours to a local Co-op farm.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had to wrangle 6 teenage boys out of their cozy beds to go work outside on a, shall we say, crisp April morning, but it’s not easy.

Unfortunately because of a scheduling error, the local farm had no work for us.  So off we went, back to the school.  Now this could have turned into an unmitigated disaster.  No community service, no classes scheduled, and 6 grumpy teenagers. 

So when we got back, I spoke with them.  I explained the situation to them and we decided we’d get classes going early, and instead of the farm, we’d spend an hour outside working on our own gardens.  I was steeled for the bevy of excuses and cries of, “That’s not fair.” But instead I got a whole bunch of guys saying, “Ok, sounds good.”

So there they were, from 2:00 until (almost) 3:00 busily, and I dare say happily, working on our flower gardens.   They could have easily shut down or blown it off but they didn’t.  They saw that this was important and needed so they stepped up. 

To me, that is community service, and that is what The Deck House is all about. 

Another great lesson.