• Erin

Becoming a Deep Creek Family

At Deep Creek Learning Center, students are encouraged to take ownership of their education. How exactly do students as young as elementary school take ownership of their education? What exactly does this look like? One example of facilitating this ownership is by focusing on creating a climate and culture where all students feel a sense of belonging and value the differences of others. At DCLC the amount of collaboration that naturally occurs during the school day promotes students working in partnerships. A school’s climate and culture are the roots of a school community. If planted deeply they consequently become solid and facilitate the growth of students and aid them as they flourish academically and as leaders.

As students become more comfortable in their school community, they naturally ask questions, yet know they will be challenged to make independent discoveries or collaborative findings with their peers. Children have such unique ideas and DCLC is the perfect platform for their voices to be heard and their ideas to be turned into action plans. We want them to understand that we are listening, and their viewpoints can lead to an authentic education.

This is a new concept for adolescents. Many have never had a school experience where their suggestions can inspire the events of the day. For students to grasp this entirely, guides facilitate Family Meetings. As the pieces of the ownership puzzle are thoughtfully placed each day, the guides step back and hand more pieces to the students. Of course, the guides will always be present, but we are already seeing that if adults demonstrate that they view the students as competent, students freely initiate leadership. It is astonishing to watch students as young as six confidently share ideas with teenagers. What is even more captivating is watching the teenagers concur with students who are much younger than they are.

One example of a Family Meeting may be a brainstorming session and discussion of the rules that should be upheld at DCLC. Afterall, a family without rules would be quite tumultuous. Today there was a disagreement among friends. Another child intervened by saying, “Hey guys, we are a family, and the family rule is that we talk through this.” There was no guide interruption or instruction to apologize. It was facilitated by a peer and all three children walked away from the conversation better for it. We want our students to establish an atmosphere that positively impacts their lives. We want the community to be able to distinguish DCLC students from other adolescents. We want the reputation of DCLC to be one that if we didn’t exist, our community would be negatively affected. We believe that every student CAN and WILL succeed because DCLC is on a mission to create a resilient school family where the students are the leaders!

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