A Field Trip Back in Time

Andrew Stevenson, Cherokee Creek Boys School Teacherby Andrew Stevenson, Social Studies Teacher, Cherokee Creek Boys School

We just completed a field trip that was in conjunction with a unit covered in class on the Industrial Revolution. In class, we’ve been focusing upon on individual entrepreneurs, inventors, and political figures from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. On the field trip we delved more into what life might have been like for an individual who lived during this time period.
Field Trip to Agricultural MuseumWe did this by visiting the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina in Pendleton.

 

Activities for our students included:
  • assembly line basics while mass producing paper airplanes;

 

  • removing seeds and cleaning actual cotton by hand, followed by seeing the machines that were developed during the 19th century to clean cotton;

 

  • using a basic loom to weave by hand, then studying the much larger industrial loom;

 

  • students created timelines of inventions from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin up the flight of the Wright brothers as our guides walked us through these inventions’ impact upon society;

 

  • Field Trip to Agricultural MuseumOutside, students were tasked with removing corn from the kernel by hand versus doing it with simple machines. They also ground the corn into a usable product;

 

  • Finally, we were taken to their gardens and animal pens where students interacted with American Guinea Hogs and various heritage poultry breeds while learning about animal care.

Field Trip to Agricultural Museum

Throughout all of this students were exposed to various other exhibits including farm implements, water systems, and local exhibits including a list of South Carolina Century farms (farm ownership by the same family over 100 years), including the farm they recently picked muscadines at (shameless plug for the Stevenson farm!).

 

Also of note, the staff at the agricultural museum were incredibly impressed by our boys and specifically complimented their firm handshakes and inquisitiveness. Our students were great ambassadors of Cherokee Creek Boys School during this trip.

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Life Lessons from a Rock Tumbler

rock tumbler at therapeutic boys boarding school provides life lessonsAt Cherokee Creek Boys School we welcome the opportunity to interject new projects and experiments for our students, especially ones that can mirror the important values and lessons we want to convey to the boys.

With funds we received from a grant our science class was able to purchase a professional grade rock tumbler and mineral specimens (including fossils and geodes) from around the world. The boys have been learning about the mechanical weathering that occurs within a rock tumbler, and how a rotary device causes the rocks to “tumble” around inside of it. As it turns, the rock tumbler causes pieces of rock to break off, ultimately smoothing them out so we can polish them. This is the same process which occurs naturally when water circulates in potholes on rivers, and when waves break along coastal beaches.

Rock Tumbler at Therapeutic Boys Boarding School This scientific project helps our boys find joy in seeing the transformation process of taking something rough and broken, and watching it become polished and beautiful. We can readily observe similar transformative processes occurring within our boys. Many of them come in rough around the edges due to school frustrations, trauma, defiance, and many other things. When they take time to ponder, learn, and “tumble” with the lessons we teach from the CCBS Medicine Wheel, after a Rock Tumbler Illustrates Life Lesson for Therapeutic Boys Boarding Schoolwhile we see smiles of true joy surface from the inner souls of our boys, much like how the sparkles and brilliant colors appear on those rocks.

Take a moment today to reflect upon something in your life that was once rough around the edges, but eventually turned into something amazingly beautiful.

To learn more about the CCBS Medicine Wheel visit http://cherokeecreek.net/our-program/medicine-wheel/.

 

  • by Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School
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Wilderness Leader Empowers Young “Warriors”

Christy Swafford, CCBS Assistant Admissions Directorby Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director at CCBS

As we enter a new academic quarter, we are focusing upon what it means to be a “Warrior”. A Warrior makes a choice to “show up and be present”. There are four “I am” statements we teach at CCBS that coincide with being a Warrior:

I am a leader
I am courageous
I am responsible
I am powerful

There are different assignments the boys at Cherokee Creek Boys School are given as they learn about and live out each part of the CCBS Medicine Wheel. One of those assignments includes journal questions for personal reflection. The question that most stands out to me is “Who are the leaders and people who have inspired me, and how have they been sources of empowerment in my life?”

Liz Lucarelli - Wilderness TherapistA few boys had the opportunity to take a trip to visit their wonderful wilderness therapist, Liz Lucarelli. It was a perfect day for them to be Warriors and to focus upon one person who has been powerful in their lives. Each of these boys have said repeatedly that she has been a powerful person in their lives. She has influenced their therapeutic growth. She has empowered them on their journey of healing. She has helped them and find the best version of themselves.

Liz Lucarelli - Wilderness TherapistHere are a few quotes from these boys about Liz:

“Liz has impacted my life in so many ways. She has made me more courageous when I stood up for myself.”

“She has inspired my creativity.”

“Liz has empowered me when she pushed me to succeed.”

“She related to my emotions. She taught me unique way to cope with my sadness and anxiety.”

Who have been the leaders in your own life that have inspired and empowered you? Be sure to tell them thank you.

Here’s to a great 2017!

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Celebrating Our Elders

Beth Black - Co-Founder Cherokee Creek Boys Schoolby Beth Black, CCBS Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board

We just finished a wonderful family seminar that was devoted to the importance of family storytelling. Below is a story that was shared with me by my friend Jack Levine, and inter-generational advocate with 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee. With his permission I am reprinting it for your enjoyment. I highly endorse his final statement which is to record your family histories. They are truly the legacy that you leave for your children.

Celebrating Our Elders – A Legacy of Living History

Jack Levine - 4 Generations InstituteAs Sunday September 11th is Grandparents Day, I’m eager to reflect on the importance of grandparents in the lives of our families.
For most of us, no one provided a more vital link to our heritage and family history than our grandparents. Wherever they were from, and no matter their background, our grandparents provided a first-person connection to our past.

Whether by birth or through adoption, grandparents are treasures deserving of honor and respect. Like all of us, none were perfect, but most were there for us when we needed them most.

The wisdom of our elders is irrefutable. I distinctly remember so many ways my elders, especially my dear Grandma Minnie, influenced me by example.

Here are a Baker’s Dozen Life Lessons I learned at Minnie’s kitchen table….

“Love knows no boundary.” Keeping close to the people you love, and learning to love them without having to love everything they do, is the key to family strength. “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.” Minnie held tight to those she needed and those who needed her.

Grandparents Day“An open door is an open heart.” Minnie’s kitchen table was a place where others came to eat and be fed spiritually. If a neighbor or their family had a problem, she was there for them. “If I needed them, I’d hope for the same treatment.” The golden rule does not tarnish.

“Waste not; want not.” Finishing our meals or saving leftovers for another time is one of the most compelling constants for our elders. Many remembered the pangs of deprivation, so therefore valued the food on their plates and the treasure of having enough to eat for everyone. Minnie always made a little extra, just in case an unexpected visitor came for dinner.

“Charity begins at home.” As little as they had, our grandparents always seemed to find a way to help others in need. Minnie had a tin can in which she would drop coins…”a little something for those with less than us.” Their example of giving, both through volunteer time and money provided the family a clear sense of appreciating the value of what we had. Reaching across the street as a way of helping others is good for them and us, too!

Grandparents Day“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” A clean home is the symbol of how we should conduct our lives in the sight of others. Minnie swept the sidewalk in front of her house almost every day. “When our guests come to our door, they should have a clear and welcoming path.” Picking up after ourselves so those who follow us have a clean path is a great lesson personally and environmentally.

“Progress comes in little steps.” Expecting too much too soon is unreasonable. “A drop plus a drop fills up the pot” was among Minnie’s favorite phrases. Every day is another opportunity to take positive steps…for family and for community. Her crocheting and knitting prowess proved that each stitch is essential to make a beautiful garment.

“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” It’s a pleasure to enjoy the company of others and to hear a good joke, tell a witty story, and listen to the folk tales of the old country. These are among life’s great gifts. “Frowns make more wrinkles than smiles,” Minnie would say with glee.

“Honest compliments are among our most valued possessions.” Giving credit when credit is due, and honoring the leadership of those whose energy and enthusiasm helps others, is important. “People shouldn’t assume you know about their good works. Tell them they are appreciated.” And if someone compliments you, accept the gift with gratitude and grace.

“If there’s a problem, try to fix it.” Minnie knew that “you’ll sit a long time with your mouth wide open before a roasted chicken will fly in.” Ignoring a problem is neither smart nor sensible. Even a failed attempt at solving the problem is better than not doing anything.

“Don’t leave politics up to someone else.” As an immigrant girl, Minnie felt the sting of discrimination and injustice. She was a suffragist as a young woman, and upon becoming a naturalized citizen, she voted for the first time in 1920. Minnie celebrated that right by never missing an election in her life. Even into her 90’s, when she had to helped into the voting booth, she did her duty with dignity. “Power is not given, it’s won with courage and hard work,” she said.

Boys Boarding School helps Dot's Kitchen“Words without deeds are empty.” Someone who makes a promise and doesn’t keep his word is an emotional thief. ‘It’s better to keep quiet than make a meaningless offer.” How many people set others up for disappointment by saying rather than doing? Our children learn from us not so much by what we say, but by what we do.

“Patience pays dividends.” Whether it was baking her famous cinnamon buns or preparing a full holiday dinner for 16, Minnie knew that the process required patience and persistence. Traditional food preparation may seem archaic, but the beauty of yeast-raised dough, simmering spices, and closely watched pots gave the family an appreciation of the love that went into so many meals. “I like to cook because when I see the faces of satisfied eaters, I’m happy.”

“Resting is a reward for working hard.” Minnie earned her rest, and made the time to relax, listen to music, observe nature, or read for pleasure. “Too much of anything isn’t good…including work.” When the Sabbath came, Minnie understood that rest provided the emotional and physical renewal she needed for a productive week ahead.

I’m not alone in receiving the gift from my elders’ life treasury. Family history is a living legacy. It’s not only the story of who our elders were, but it defines in many ways who we are.

Over the centuries, our nation has been and continues to be populated by those whose life’s story is worth telling.

Whether they came for freedom or by force in slavery, the values our grandparents brought with them are heirlooms which our children deserve to inherit.

Their sacrifices fueled our freedoms. Those who survived became advocates for causes and people who needed them…..their life’s mission was to make the world a bit better than the one they experienced.

While I’m not yet a grandparent, my appreciation of family history is translated to our sons, and I’m confident that someday, they will in turn have the opportunity to pass along the generational gift.

Never hesitate to exercise your advocacy voice…in respect for those who paved our path to a better future….our valiant veterans, ardent activists and champions for causes which deserved their passion.

I recommend you consider recording your family history, share the stories with your children and grandchildren, and make sure that treasured family photos are duplicated and records are kept safe and out of harm’s way.

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Therapeutic Focus Groups at Cherokee Creek Boys School

By Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Therapeutic Focus Groups - PerseveranceWe have some wonderful therapeutic focus groups at Cherokee Creek Boys School. We rotate these groups every few months. The boys are learning important information and life skills from these teaching interactions.

One of the focus groups is named “Perserverance”. Perservance teaches our students how to preserve through some tough tasks which are exhibited in ‘hard skills’. Hard skills, for example, can refer to the survival skills learned in wilderness programs. Some of our students that haven’t been exposed to the wilderness in the past really benefit from acquiring these hard skills, which in turn teach resilience and perseverance.

Therapeutic Focus Groups - PerseveranceAs CCBS Therapist Christy Todd explains: “Perseverance teaches motivation, follow through with goals, and the thrill of success when you stay your course.  One of our projects is to ‘bust a coal’ with a bow drill set.  We gathered materials such as pine saplings and pine boards, created top rocks out of river rocks and quartz, and whittled materials into shape.  After weeks of preparation, the boys learned the most effective technique of moving the bow to turn the spindle, which creates friction, smoke, then, finally, a coal is busted and ready for a survival fire.  After a big workout of bow drilling, seeing smoke and then a coal is an amazing reward!  Perseverance is an essential ingredient.”

Therapeutic Focus Groups - Art of ManlinessAnother therapeutic focus group we are currently running is named “The Art of Manliness”. This group is lead by CCBS Therapist Jacob Hafkin and is a fun group where boys learn how to, for example, change a tire, talk to girls (respectfully, as gentlemen), and dress for an interview.

In addition to these two therapeutic focus groups, we also have a group that teaches relaxation through yoga. Many of the boys have a negative outlook on therapy upon arriving at CCBS. We try hard to break down those barriers and have fun in the midst of working through some tough emotions and hurdles.

 

 

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ADHD Medication and Behavioral Therapy

by Jacob Hafkin, CCBS Full-Time Therapist

ADHD Medication and Behavioral Therapy - Jacob Hafkin - Cherokee Creek Boys School TherapistRecently, I was asked to review an article that dealt with the subject of ADHD medication and Behavioral Therapy. It was published in Psychiatry Advisor and references the Center for Disease Control’s memo regarding the efficacy of Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of ADHD. OK…I agree with the premises made… but, more importantly, why do I agree? Because learning how to deal with ADHD is about managing symptomatology, rather than curing it.

These days we hear so much about medication and our society’s tendency to over-medicate children, especially young men. I have mixed feelings on the issue, as I have seen for numerous students the positive benefits of medication therapy.

ADHD medication and behavioral therapyThat said, I think too often we expect medications to fix everything. Studies have shown the most effective way to make and sustain change in the mental health field is through a combination of medication and talk therapies.

Medication can aid our students by allowing them a chance to control their behaviors. However, as a part of this regimen, the students also have to choose to control their behaviors.

That’s where the behavior therapy comes in. Our students must still learn strategies for success.

The fact that our boys can now pay attention in class gives us an open door to teach and coach skills such as time management, executive functioning tasks, social skills, goal development, etc.

ADHD medication and Behavioral TherapyMedication aimed towards ADHD symptoms creates an opportunity for our students to hear what we have to say. Then, it is the behavioral coaching that students (and parents) receive that cements these changes and allows for success to become a learned behavior.

Instead of pitting ADHD medication and Behavioral Therapy against each other, we should seek effective ways in which the benefits of both strategies can be utilized to foster the ability for each of our ADHD boarding school students to pay attention and focus in order to maximize their learning experience.

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Modeling Authenticity for ADHD Boys

by Jacob Hafkin, Cherokee Creek Boys School TherapistJacob Hafkin - Cherokee Creek Boys School Therapist and ADHD Coach

Part of the Cherokee Creek Mission Statement encourages boys and their families “to discover what is real and true about themselves…”

When a student enters CCBS, he begins as a “Visionary”.  In this quadrant of the CCBS Medicine Wheel, the core value is truth, and they are challenged and taught how to tell the truth without blame or judgement.

For so many of our students struggling with ADHD, truth is mixed up with feelings of failure, disorganization, and despair.  Their past few years have been marred by behavioral infractions, incomplete assignments, fractured friendships and lost time.  Their diagnosis of ADHD has become an excuse, or an explanation for why “they can’t”.  The truth that their learning style may be different from others is covered up by shame and guilt.

CCBS Students in Classroom designed for ADHD boysCherokee Creek Boys School is a place where individual differences such as ADHD are accepted and understood.  It is here that I ask my boys to take a next step, from saying “it’s because I have ADHD” as an excuse, to learning how to modify, adapt and accommodate their learning differences.

Every staff member at CCBS is an ADHD Coach.  The truth is that life can be made more difficult if you have issues with sustaining attention for a task.  But our journey does not end with acknowledgement.  At Cherokee Creek, our staff works to teach young men strategies to find success no matter their learning differences.ADHD Boys can explore the world around them at CCBS

The “Visionary” part of the Medicine Wheel encourages our students to be creative and insightful, traits that are very important as our young men search for ways to fit into their world.   On any given day you might hear a staff member say something along the lines of “Yes, you struggle with hyperactivity and have a hard time making it through class.  Let’s talk about ways to make your academic experience more successful”.

As I mentioned earlier, every staff member at Cherokee Creek as viewed as an ADHD Coach.  I’d like to extend the mantle of Coach to parents, siblings, relatives, and friends in an adolescent’s life.  At this stage, each of our students is learning how to be a man.  Our spoken advice, as well as how we model ourselves non-verbally, is providing a blueprint for adulthood.  Our students/sons are already aware of our humanity.  By sharing our thought processes with them, as well as us giving constructive and palatable feedback, we teach and encourage the behaviors we wish to see repeated.

Every staff member is an ADHD coachLiving and working so closely with my students, they see parts of me I like, as well as my struggles.  They know I’m fallible, and that is OK.  It is through watching each member of our staff deal with failure and success that they learn how to manage the same in their own lives.  I suggest parents to do the same.  If you’re an adult who has struggled with ADHD, share that with your son.  Teach him the strategies that you have used to succeed and encourage his own journey for discovering the truth to becoming a “Warrior” with the courage to overcome and persevere.

We are building resilience in these boys.  If good decisions are a manifestation of experience, and experience comes from poor judgement, we are right on track (it’s that whole “you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet” bit, right?).  As they continue on their journey towards becoming a more authentic version of themselves, let’s model the same and continue coaching them towards success.

 

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It Starts with TEACHERS

Boys Boarding School Dean - Denise Savidge

by Denise Savidge, Academic Dean at Cherokee Creek Boys School

Recently, we were asked a very interesting question: “What are you doing at Cherokee Creek to reverse the statistic that 70% of all “D’s” and “F’s” in schools are given to boys?”

Let me answer that question by addressing what happens in a scenario in which a boy who has been floundering with “D’s” and “F’s” in another school, has become a student at CCBS, and is now under the watchful and supportive care of our wonderful teachers.

Success in the classroom starts with TEACHERS…

Boys Boarding School TeacherTeachers who operate under a strengths-based model, seeking out what natural “smarts” a child already possesses.*

Teachers who go out of their way to meet a student at his individual level — or self-perceived level — and then support and scaffold until that level is consistently raised.

Teachers who understand that it is easier for a student to repeat success once he has hit that first successful moment and been praised and encouraged for doing so.

Teachers who have the luxury of teaching to reasonable class sizes and aren’t under the constant pressure of standardized testing or worrying about their jobs being attached to “making numbers.”

Boys Boarding School CoachTeachers who are appreciated and valued for their ability to build relationships with their students first and worry about missing assignments next (but not forgetting them).

Teachers who can count on second-shift staff to follow-up on missing assignments, holding them accountable for getting it done before they can do fun, after-school stuff (in loco parentis).

Teachers who design lessons that can be completed in a class period and don’t send home meaningless and repetitive drill sheets for homework.

Teachers who smile, realizing that the attitude they bring to the classroom can make or break their students’ day.

Boys Boarding School TherapistTeachers who are allowed to not only high-five or pat backs, but can appropriately hug a student and tell them how proud they are without fear of “no touching” rules and reprimands.

Teachers who care about making schoolwork fun, engaging, discussion-worthy, relevant, and boy-friendly.

Teachers who allow students to have a vote in what they read, what they learn, and how to prove their knowledge once the lesson is over.

Teachers who understand that all behavior is communication and choose to root out the underlying issue rather than take it personally.

Teachers who value the child who can create a PowerPoint better than he can fill in bubbles, proving that he really does understand why Atticus Finch chose to defend Tom Robinson.

Boys Boarding School StaffTeachers who find “zero-tolerance” policies ridiculous and give second, third, and thirtieth chances … because middle school boys need them.

Teachers who are given ample time to plan, communicate with other staff, and engage with students outside of teaching hours.

Teachers who allow students to “take space” for anxiety or energy needs by moving around the classroom, wiggling on a yoga ball, or throwing basketballs just outside the door.

Teachers who make it a standard operating procedure to care about their students and find ways for their students to experience success, no matter how small, and remember to tell them before they leave the classroom for the day.

To summarize… at Cherokee Creek Boys School, we run our classrooms the way we believe all classrooms should be run: With the idea that each boy has a special gift and can succeed once he discovers it.

*from Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences @OfficialMIOasis

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Like Riding a Bike…

by Denise Savidge, Academic Dean, Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School

Denise Savidge - Academic Dean - Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School

Denise Savidge

There is an old saying: “It’s like riding a bike.” Meaning that once you’ve learned the skill of balancing and pedaling, it is ingrained in your mind and you can never forget how to do it. Or can you?

A video that has now reached more than 8 million views tells the story of The Backwards Brain Bicycle – a brain challenge created with a regular bicycle and the addition of two gears. The two gears serve to reverse the steering mechanism so that turning the handlebars to the right makes the front wheel turn left and vice versa. The narrator is Destin Sandlin, an American engineer and the host of Smarter Every Day, which is an educational video series on YouTube. His frustration in learning to ride the new bike is evident.

Like Riding a Bike video

It would seem that making the switch in your brain would be simple – just remember to turn the opposite of the direction you want to go. It can’t be that difficult once you’ve mastered the regular steering concept. As the narrator points out, having the knowledge of what to do and doing it are two different things.

The attempts caught on video are hilarious and entertaining, but tell us a lot about knowledge, understanding, and neuroplasticity.  Adult learners seem to have the most difficulty “unlearning” something they know. It took Destin 8 months to master the bicycle enough to navigate with few wobbles.

His young son, who has been riding a bike only three years, mastered the necessary technique in two weeks. Call it habit or ingrained learning, once you do something a certain way for a period of time, it is harder to change the longer  that period of practice is. A young brain’s neuroplasticity – ability to change the pathways of information regarding skills, behaviors, and emotions – makes learning and unlearning easier for children.

As you watch the video, think to yourself “How long have you been riding your bicycle? How long would it take you to unlearn it? Would you give up mastering it? And what if you substituted a behavior or bad habit for the word ‘bicycle’?” As adults, we may not be patient enough with ourselves to unlearn and relearn the tasks we need to take on in life.

Which brings to mind the other old saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Or in this case, you can … but it may take an awful lot longer.

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Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School Alumni Challenge

For 10 days In June 2014, alumni from Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School in Westminster, SC ran the river, hiked, camped and practiced leadership skills under the supervision of CCBS TREKS Manager Spencer Palmer.

Here is a short video of that event, which we hope will become an annual event of fun and learning for our alumni.

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have No Comments
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