Turning It Around

Denise Savidge with Sam and "driver" Nick - too cute!

Denise Savidge with Sam and "driver" Nick - too cute!

Next week marks my one year anniversary of joining the Cherokee Creek Boys School staff as Academic Dean. It’s been an amazing journey of growth, self-discovery, and relationship building in what I call fondly, “The Greatest Job Ever.”

There will likely be those who ponder how big a (choose from suck-up, butt-kisser, brown-noser) I am by writing a blog so blatantly complimentary to my colleagues. But you have to know them. When you’re as delighted as I am to come every day and work with these folks, you feel the need to spread the love on a little thick now and then.

Two years ago I was homeless and jobless. Who wouldn’t feel lucky to have a job — any job — given those circumstances? Somewhere close to MLK day 2010, I was packed up and halfway home to Pennsylvania to live in my parents’ basement. That’s the absolute truth. Well okay, the basement is actually unfinished. I probably could have scored my old bedroom. Thanks to the miracle of modern smart phone communication, an email was delivered offering me a job to make just-above-poverty-level in the local school district. It was enough to get by. It was also a foot in the door, and I turned around and drove five hours back to where I’d started.

That fortuitous email was the beginning of a much needed walk in faith and fellowship. The friends and relationships I’ve formed since turning around that day make life before that point look like a scrimmage against myself. I had been losing no matter what, questioning every decision and second guessing every move. It was mental torture I was inflicting upon myself. Does this sound like something our boys have experienced?

Each move I made after my personal decision to turn my car around brought me closer to finding CCBS one year later, where I finally feel at home. Every perceived misstep I took gained me a skill set I’m using daily in a giant montage of job freedom and creativity. It’s good, hard, rewarding work with payoffs every day – always based in being able to witness and be part of the “turn around” the boys do while they’re here. It’s a team effort in which there are no superstars claiming MVP, just team players acknowledging the other guy’s part in the process.

Turning around is a BIG theme here at CCBS. Our boys come to “turn it around.” Our families get to take a new course along with them. And we’ve grown so much as a school since about this time last year. We all manage to grow and change on these healing soils – from the trees to the people to the school itself.

This week, we were told we would again be recommended for accreditation by SACS. We can’t reveal most of the contents of the study until it’s published, but suffice it to say we were showered with some pretty amazing and heartwarming Commendations. To have strangers walk onto your campus and immediately recognize the warmth, camaraderie, cohesion, and respect among students and staff is a pretty big accolade.

Have you ever wondered about our claim to be “The Small School with the Big Heart?” Even first time visitors see it. Next time you’re in the area, turn around for a quick visit with us. It’s always rewarding to see the good work going on around here.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (10)

10 Responses to “Turning It Around”

  1. Bruce Mann says:

    Thank you for you commitment and faith. I know my nephew David celebrates your service to the school. Don’t let him give you any grief. I enjoy reading your blogs and again thank you. What you all do will have an impact on the future of our country.

  2. Ruth Thompson says:

    Bravo, Denise. This is a lovely, heartfelt statement. You are a big part of why things are going well at CCBS. It’s great to hear that you love it at the school. See you soon, I hope. Ruth (PS: Do more video!!!)

  3. Jeff Holtzman says:

    Denise can’t believe it is almost a year. I knew you would be a great fit. Boys and teachers need a purpose. I think you found yours. Happy anniversary.

  4. Ronnie Duncan says:

    suck up.

    But a wonderful one. Seriously, thank you for sharing your own journey and for the difference you have made at CCBS. We are blessed to have Sam in your care and in the care of the entire CCBS team. CCBS really is “The Small School with the Big Heart” and you are a key part of that heart.
    Thank you, Denise!

  5. Elizabeth Jones says:

    Denise, your enthusiasm and love for your students is heartwarming for us parents to see. Thank you for “turning it around” and teaching our boys how to do that day in and day out…

  6. Thanks for such a truthful and inspiring blog!! Glad you got to meet my colleague and friend Barton Calvert, from Glenforest School.

  7. Beth Black says:

    Well, you can call yourself whatever you choose, Denise! I call you ‘FABULOUS’!! Thank you for this beautiful testimonial that captures all that I hoped to create when visioning a healing place for children over 15 years ago! Truly, the essence of what is “real and true” about Cherokee Creek is that amazingly wonderful people were all drawn to a little place in the woods that hope and healing for children and families…and making a difference in the world one child and one family at a time. Brilliant!

  8. Cindy Ashby says:

    Denise, what a wonderful testimony to what CCBS is all about! Thank you for sharing your story… it just confirms my daily thoughts of gratitude to you and all the staff at CCBS. Thank you

  9. Shaler Cooper says:

    It just goes to show how one decision can really have a domino momentum. I ditto your applause for getting to work with such a fun team of people! Keep it up Denise, you’re a rockstar!

  10. Denise says:

    Your comments are all too kind and I’ll take “suck up” any day.(The funny thing was, BV was supposed to CHOOSE whichever was most appropriate to the blog. Apparently she thinks “all of the above.” Haha) It’s my delight and privilege to come to work everyday, and I love what I do. Thank you all for taking the time to recognize the blog.