Archive for the 'Discovering What is Real and True' Category

“Pulling Up a Chair” for Ten Years

This month, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of beloved math/science teacher Nick Linscott as a staff member at Cherokee Creek Boys School.

CCBS Math/Science Teacher Nick Linscott

CCBS Math/Science Teacher Nick Linscott

Nick is our second-most senior staff member, just a few months behind our Operations Director, Phil Fairbrother.

He has earned a regional reputation as the Master of Lego League. Under Nick’s leadership, our boys continue to place well in regional competitions, which punches their tickets to the State competition. After placing regionally in third place this year, his team will travel to Columbia, S.C. on February 20th. It is impressive to know that Nick has won the “Best Coach Award” twice over the years… and it’s even more impressive after learning that the award has only been given out two times!

Nick Linscott listens to storiesNick started his career at CCBS as flex staff and was asked to “fill in” for an absent teacher one day. His skills as an experiential, hands-on wizard were evident when he started a project to measure and map out a creek running through campus – entwining his river and water skills with his biology degree and natural math expertise.

Nick Linscott receives his chairNick is well known for “pulling up a chair” to have lunch with the boys at the end of the picnic tables. So, during our anniversary lunch celebration for Nick, after staff and students told stories of their favorite Mr. Linscott memories and encounters, Nick was presented with his very own custom made chair that contained an engraved plaque of appreciation.

Nick Linscott is one of the reasons why Cherokee Creek Boys School is known around the country as “the little school with a BIG heart”.

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A “Souper” Experience

Yesterday, a few of our Cherokee Creek students took a service project trip to Dot’s Soup Kitchen in Westminster, and did an excellent job representing our school in feeding about 70-80 people.

Cherokee Creek students preparing to serve lunchWhen the people started arriving, our boys worked the crowd by handing out pinto beans and cornbread like champs.

We prepped, served, wiped down tables, chairs and high-chairs, swept, mopped, vacuumed, washed rubber mats, washed dishes and cleaned up their porch area where the people come and go.

At the end of the event, our boys did a lot of cleaning so that the adult workers could sit and eat. The crew loved them and everyone was very appreciative of all they did to help out.

Our students learned valuable lessons from veterans.

Our students learned valuable lessons from veterans.

The guys also had the opportunity to spend some time with a couple of veterans who worked at the kitchen and heard some awesome stories from their experiences. They gave the boys some very valuable advice about working hard, learning from the people who are trying to teach you while you’re young, and what it means to serve others- whether in the military or in your community.

Afterwards we talked about the experience and they had some really positive things to say. Some of the boys admitted that they had no clue about the tough lives that other people go through. They had a lot of questions about how those people might live, what they do if they have children, etc.

They are already asking if we can go back.

Kayla Tompkins, White Oak Primary Counselor

Cherokee Creek Boys School

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Limiting Electronic Media

David LePere, Executive Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School

David LePere, Executive Director, CCBS

Cherokee Creek Boys School continues to recommend limiting screen time for all children in your home – and to collect all the smartphones, tablets and laptops each night so kids are not tempted to use them when they should be sleeping. Most children don’t have the ability to self-regulate when it comes to electronic media, so it’s up to us parents!

All my best,


From Richard Louv’s website, Children & Nature Network, November 7, 2013:
The American Academy of Pediatricians issues tougher guidelines for kids’ media use.

In a statement published October 28 in the journal Pediatrics, the AAP, linking excessive media use to a host of health problems, including obesity, recommended that kids should have no TVs or Internet access in their bedrooms, that parents should adopt “family media use plans” that also ban electronic media during mealtimes and after, and reiterated that children should be limited to less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time per day.

Boy watching too much tvIn addition, the AAP urged that children younger than 2 should have no TV or Internet exposure. (Tell that to the companies that are pushing to put electronics in the hands of children in every preschool and daycare facility.) The statement pointed out that the average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily.

To the AAP’s credit, it does not demonize technology — and does point to some of tech’s educational benefits. It cites a report released on Oct. 28 by Common Sense Media Research, which offered the good news first. Use of “traditional” screen media (TVs, video games, computers) has fallen by more than half an hour a day.

Then came the other news: Almost twice as many children have used mobile media compared to two years ago, and the average amount of time children spend using mobile devices has tripled!

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Recommended Reading List

The Purpose of Boys - Michael Gurian

The Purpose of Boys - Michael Gurian

Several families who attended our latest Family Seminar were interested in what we considered as some of the most recommended books to read on the subject of parenting and mentoring boys. All of the books on this list have taught us how to better teach our middle school boys. Every staff at Cherokee Creek will have their favorites, but three books in particular that really captured my attention and spoke to me were: The Purpose of Boys, Boundaries with Kids,and Wild at Heart.

Here is our recommended reading list in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name:

Beausay, Bill. Teenage Boys! Surviving and Enjoying These Extraordinary Years. 1998

Brozo, William. To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader: Engaging Teen and Preteen Boys in Active Literacy.2002

Cloud, Henry & John Townsend. Boundaries With Kids. 1998

Dobson, James. Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for those Shaping the Next Generation of Men. 2001

Eldredge, J. You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2004.

Eldredge, J. Wild At Heart. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2002.

Gurian, Michael. The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life. 2005

Gurian, Michael. The Good Son: Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men. 1999

Gurian, Michael. (1999). From Boys to Men: All About Adolescence and You. New York: Price Stearn Sloan.

Gurian, M. with Trueman, T. (2000). What Stories Does My Son Need?. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

Gurian, M. (2009). The Purpose of Boys. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. (2005). The Minds of Boys. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

James, Abigail Norfleet. Teaching the Male Brain. 2007

Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv

Kimmel, Michael. Manhoodin America: A Cultural History. 2006

Kindlon, Dan and Thompson, Michael. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. 1999

Mosatche, Harriet and Unger, Karen. Too Old for This, Too Young for That! Your Survival guide of the Middle-School Years. 2000

Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.

Muharrar, Aisha. More Than a Label. 2002

Pollack, W. (1998). RealBoys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Schaffer, Susan and Gordon, Linda. Why Boys Don’t Talk and Why It Matters. 2005

Slocumb, Paul D. Hear Our Cry, Boys in Crisis. 2004

Strauch, Barbara. The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids. 2003

Stone, Richard. (1996) The Healing Art of Storytelling. New York: Hyperion.

Tatum, Alfred.  Teaching Leadership to Black Adolescent Males. 2005

Thompson, Michael.  Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions about Raising Sons. 2000

Thompson, M. & Barker, T. (2008). It’s A Boy! Understanding Your Son’s Development from Birth to Age 18.New York: Random House.

Tobin, L. (1991). What Do You Do With A Child Like This? Inside the Lives of Troubled Children.Whole Person Associates: Duluth, MN.

If you would recommend other books that you have read that are not on this list, please let us know. The staff at Cherokee Creek Boys School is in perpetual learning mode!

Happy Learning!

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Four-Legged Therapy

You can hardly walk on Cherokee Creek’s campus without a greeting from a four-legged friend lately. The number of dogs loyally following their owners to work has increased and, along with that fact, the number of boys happily throwing sticks and playing chase!

Jacob, Student, and MosesThere are many research studies pointing to increased happiness when pets are available for petting, play, or just listening. Our dogs have been welcomed in therapy sessions, formal and informal. In short, there are so many wonderful reasons to have them around (to learn more about the therapeutic value of pets, please see

We dedicate the anonymously written fable below to our CCBS “co-therapists” Lily, Mable, Moses, Yoshi, Bella, Callie, Dirt Dog,and Big Dog. Thank you for being you!

Fable – God Summoned The Beast From the Field (Author Unknown)

God summoned the beast from the field and He said
“Behold, man is created in my image. Therefore adore him.
You shall protect him in the wilderness,
shepherd his flocks, watch over his children,
accompany him wherever he may go…
even into civilization.
You shall be his companion, his ally, his slave.”

“To do these things,” God said, “I endow you with the
instincts uncommon to other beasts:
Faithfulness, Devotion and Understanding
surpassing those of man himself.
Lest it impair your courage,
you shall never foresee your death.
Lest it impair your loyalty,
you shall be blind to the faults of man.
Lest it impair your understanding,
you are denied the power of words.
Speak to your master only with your mind
and through your honest eyes.”

“Walk by his side; sleep in his doorway;
ward off his enemies; carry his burden;
share his afflictions; love and comfort him.
And in return for this,
Man will fulfill your needs and wants…
which shall be only food, shelter and affection.”

“So be silent and be a friend to man.
Guide him through the perils along the way
to this land I have promised him.
This shall be your destiny and your immortality.”

So spoke the Lord.
And the dog heard, and was content.

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Framing Criticism

How often has what we considered a simple direction or instruction to a child escalated into a power struggle of mammoth proportions?

Denise Savidge, Academic Dean

Denise Savidge, CCBS Academic Dean

We want our child to do well in school, be fairly neat in their home environment and abide by simple rules, and when they fail to do so, it becomes a battlefield.

In a wonderful Psychology Today article (March/April 2013), writer Mary Loftus talks of the importance of giving constructive criticism in a way children can hear it. She writes, “Criticism is the single most significant factor in a child’s perception of the parental relationship. It’s important to criticize without demeaning or humiliating.” Often when we think we are giving direction, we are really beginning by condemning them, which can damage the parent/child relationship.

For poor grades or a failed experiment in something new, she suggests asking your child to evaluate his performance and ask what he got out of the experience. Then she says to turn the conversation to how they might do things differently the next time to achieve their desired result. Framing it as a lesson learned and giving options to do better the next time gives children power to overcome a failure.

How often do we come home and say, “This place is a mess. You have until so-and-so to get this cleaned up or there will be no (insert activity here.)” which is usually followed by a big argument, talking back, or worse. The problem, Loftus explains, is that we go right to the grilling and the incorrect behavior without first going on a “fact-finding  discussion.”

Instead of saying, “This playroom is a mess, you’re not having any friends over until it’s clean,”  she suggests explaining first and skip complaining, by stating “I’d love to see your playroom cleaned up by this weekend so you and your friends can have fun this weekend.”

I thought while reading the article that it sounded a little wishy-washy, so I tried it out on the messy playroom in my own basement. My daughter was having a big skating and slumber party for six girls and I had no time to straighten before racing around town to borrow a vehicle big enough to transport them all to the festivities. So I used the phrase above, word for word. Her answer: “Ok. I’ll go do that now.” I almost fell off my chair. By acknowledging that her party was important to her and phrasing the request in a positive manner, she was willing to jump right on it. Everyone was happy.

Science LabAround campus, the phrase, “How could you have done that differently resulting in a more positive result?”) is common.  (Sometimes we abbreviate to boy lingo, like, “How’d that work out for you?”)  Either way, the boys reflect and take ownership of mistakes while giving thought to what they will do better next time. There is no blame or judgment in these simple phrases and there is always another chance to do better. Often, the positive redirection with an additional chance to try again will get them to where they need to be.

Denise Savidge serves as Academic Dean at Cherokee Creek Boys School in Westminster, SC., and also teaches Language Arts and Social Studies.

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More Than Just a “Fair” Brother!

At Cherokee Creek Boys School we proudly claim that we are the small school with a BIG heart. One of the biggest hearts on our campus belongs to our Operations Director, Phil Fairbrother, who recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with us.

Phil Fairbrother, Operations Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Phil Fairbrother, Operations Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Phil is a multi-talented individual with a background in engineering, construction, business, teaching, and outdoor adventure. So when he learned about our desire to holistically blend academic learning and therapeutic counseling with outdoor recreation and nature, Phil was intrigued and attracted to the school.  After coming on board in September of 2003, Phil, his wife, and two others operated the school for a few months (just the four of them!) to bring the dream to fruition.

In the early days Phil taught Math to the boys and served as a second shift counselor. A year later when he was invited by Sports Illustrated to complete a project for them at the Summer Olympics in Greece, Phil still committed to stay connected with the boys by teaching them through an interactive curriculum program.

Throughout the years Phil has taken on the challenge of various roles and responsibilities. In his current position as Operations Director he oversees such departments as Bookkeeping, Human Resources, Nursing, Maintenance, and the Kitchen. Each Thanksgiving, he is in charge of roasting the turkeys using his special pit-cooking technique. On top of all of these things Phil also serves as the community water safety officer for our area.

Watch as we sing Happy Birthday to Phil!

Watch as we sing Happy Birthday to Phil!

A little known fact about Phil is that he has earned a couple of black belts in martial arts. He enjoys studying the Katana, which is one of the traditional swords made and worn by the samurais in feudal Japan. Phil gave us a martial arts demonstration once that impressed all of us, but especially the boys!

We’d like to thank Phil for his many years of hard work and dedication. Cherokee Creek Boys School is a better place because of Phil, and countless numbers of students have been impacted because of his academic instruction, his wisdom about life, his joy of nature, and his example as a positive role model.

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To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before…

Spencer Palmer joined the Treks team at Cherokee Creek Boys School in September 2012 having just finished a summer stint as an expedition leader for Deer Hill Expeditions in the Four Corners area of Colorado. While in Colorado, Spencer led extended backpacking and rafting trips with adolescent clients. He’s a 2012 graduate of Toccoa Falls College, with a major in Outdoor Leadership and Education.

Spencer Palmer - CCBS Trek Manager

Spencer Palmer - CCBS Treks Manager

Spencer’s involvement in the outdoors has been lifelong. He was active in Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He was an avid hunter and fisherman growing up in the Toccoa area with his two brothers. At the local Y Camp near Talullah Gorge, Spencer was assistant adventure director, working with campers on outdoor trips and rope course activities.

In 2008, Spencer “thru hiked” the Appalachian Trail, taking just under five months to traverse the mountains from Georgia to Maine. “Thru hikers” usually adopt a nickname for notes and sign-ins along the trail. Spencer’s moniker was “One Flop”. Since he is a stickler for details (something that continues to shine through in his work at Cherokee Creek), he walked every foot of the trail and made sure that every side trip began and ended at the same spot on the “AT”.

Spencer also brings a love of wild water to complement his overall love of the wilderness. He’s an experienced kayaker, paddling Class IV water all over the Southeast. He shares his organizational talents with the paddling community by helping to organize festivals on the Tallulah River in Georgia and the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

We are blessed that Spencer is able to bring all of these talents and passions to bear on the whitewater canoeing program at Cherokee Creek.

As our new Treks Program Manager, Spencer hopes to create new outdoor activities for the boys, continue to maintain our enviable safety record (like all our Trek staff, Spencer is a certified Wilderness First Responder), and further integrate our PATH work into the outdoor curriculum. Right off the bat, he’s instituting new methods of staff training and development so that everyone involved with the Trek program is on a continuous path of self-improvement.

Everyone at Cherokee Creek is looking forward to working with Spencer. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the outdoors to our students.

Thanks for being on our team, Spencer!

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For Some Children with Communication Challenges, Seeing is Knowing

Written By: Marilee Emerson

Marilee is a consultant to CCBS

Marilee is a consultant to Cherokee Creek Boys School

One of the first questions I ask when I inquire about an individual’s communication is, “What is the most reliable way your child/student receives information?”

The vast majority of responses point to a visual channel, i.e., printed to-do lists or schedules, a picture of the end project, or photographs.

Through the years, one of the things that I’ve learned, both the hard way and easy way, is that sharing information verbally makes the information transient. Once you say it, it’s gone.

Visual information (written words, pictures, or objects) on the other hand is static. It sticks around so you can reference it, if needed.

Speaking is, of course, the quickest and most convenient way of sharing information. But, in this highly distractible world we live in, it is often wise to “back up” your verbal communication. For example, using a note, a memo, a voice recording will make the spoken words more permanent.

But, for children with communication challenges, “backing up” spoken information maybe be a necessary part of their everyday learning experience.

In fact, visual information may be the primary way to communicate; verbal sharing of information would be the back up.

It’s GREAT to be alive in the 21st century. Here’s why: Technology has made the task of supporting communication much, much easier.

One of the most helpful actions we can take for others is to clarify expectations, especially if a new task or experience is forthcoming.

Think proactive preparation. Ask yourself, “What does my child/my student need to know to be successful in this up-coming situation?

Notice I said, “…need to know…” This doesn’t mean you should prepare the child for every aspect of the situation. Rather, I recommend focusing on the areas of the situation that will make him most successful. This is often referred to as “priming.”

You can share your expectations for a variety of activities, i.e., school and community involvement, travel, social events, religious ceremonies, and doctors appointments.

Depending on your child (whom you know best), you should consider how much information to share and what’s the best format to use.

Before the Internet was so pervasive, (Yes, I’ve been teaching that long!), you might have used pictures from magazines, drawings of stick figures or Polaroid pictures. But now, you have amazing resources at our fingertips.

mom and son on computerBelow are my top 3 resources for sharing expectations:

1. Google Images– You can find almost ANYTHING on Google. I find that Internet images are good for showing specific locations, or finding brand logos and generic pictures.

2. Digital Cameras-Nowadays, if you have a cell phone, you have a camera, too. Digital pictures you take are good for illustrating step-by-step sequences or generating lists.

3. YouTube videos-Videos are another great resource. Of course, you’ll want to preview the videos before you share them. Videos are helpful for priming more involved experiences such as going to the dentist for the first time; first time flying in an airplane; how to brush teeth, make popcorn or any number of activities.

Note: If your child is overwhelmed with the narration, you can view the video without the sound. You can also make your own videos, without narration.

With so many choices for accessible visuals, it’s much easier to support learning new expectations than ever before.

I encourage you to try, even if it’s at the most basic level, and observe how your child responds to priming of expectations.

Once you know what works, experiment with other applications for growth and learning. That’s when ‘seeing is knowing’ becomes really exciting.

Have you used visuals with your child to prime him for new expectations? Please share your experiences with me or on the MyMarilee Facebook Page.

Let’s start a conversation.


Marilee Emerson is an educator who is passionate about helping families through challenging transitions. She helps parents of children with disabilities and learning differences know what they need to do next, so they can create better lives for their children and families. Her weekly newsletter Note from Marilee is full of practical tips and helpful perspectives. If you are ready to take your next best step for your child and family, sign up for a FREE subscription at

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Why Cherokee Creek Boys School is Proud to be a “Gurian Model School”

At Cherokee Creek Boys School our mission is to “challenge boys and their families to discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.”  When we became familiar with the work that best-selling author, family counselor and researcher Michael Gurian is doing through the Gurian Institute, we realized that our two organizations shared many of the same core values.

Michael Gurian

Michael Gurian

Cherokee Creek agrees with Gurian that:

Boys learn differently than girls.

There are over 200 physical, chemical and hormonal differences in the brains of male and females…resulting in different behaviors in the classroom and in life!  Boys have more cortical area devoted to spatial-mechanical functioning, and half as much to verbal-emotive functioning than girls.  Boys need to move their arms and things through the air!

Boys can thrive educationally with a “boy-friendly learning environment”.

Gurian highly recommends an active learning atmosphere for boys that includes “small classes, relevant content, and the spirit of competition.”

Boys have an innate need to connect with nature.

Gurian has commented: “Going outdoors is really big… people don’t realize when boys are sitting in their seats all day that a part of their souls isn’t developing.  Any boy who is at risk of having behavioral problems can find a lot of healing in nature.”

Boys benefit from having families equipped to understand their needs.

Parent education that involves an understanding of how boys learn and develop differently has become a regular part of what we do each year. Healing must involve the whole family.

Gurian Institute logo - smallThe designation of Cherokee Creek Boys School as a Gurian Model School illustrates our commitment to using brain science and nature-based research to create an optimal learning environment for boys. Our teachers have received training in brain-based gender differences, and with the support of the Institute, we continue to keep up with the most recent research and share new information with faculty for application in the classroom.

CCBS Founder Beth Black states “By focusing on boys’ needs and providing the single gender education classroom to meet those needs, we have become the first therapeutic-setting school to earn the Gurian Model School designation. It validates what we do here and why it works.”

That’s why we like to say unapologetically, “Cherokee Creek is a place where boys CAN be boys!”

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