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Opinion & Essays - Oct, 1995 Issue 


(The following was sent to me by a parent last Spring about his and his son's experience with Spring Creek Community School in Thompson Falls, Montana, run by Steve and Nancy Cawdrey, 406-827-4301.) 

Our son arrived at Spring Creek in September of 1994. He was an honors student, 14 years old, at a very nice private traditional boarding school. Drug use, stealing, and dishonesty caused his dismissal after one year of this traditional, college preparatory education. 

Clearly our son was in trouble. Insurance based, sixty to ninety day treatment plans did not seem profound enough for the degree of addictive disorder in our child. We visited traditional therapeutic schools that seemed to turn out Robot-like students. Changes at these schools seemed to be forced upon the child by external, sometimes overly confrontive means. 

Spring Creek seemed quite bizarre, beautiful, and mystifying when we visited its campus. No great body of literature existed to justify its approach. There seemed to be no real plan intact. When we met the Spring Creek Community members, we knew we had found a place for our son. Each child that we visited with seemed unduly wise beyond his years. 

The plan at Spring Creek is really no plan. One has to plan not to plan. Out of this non-plan comes very profound inner change in each child. Traditional education is surrendered to a beautiful dialectical process. Children learn to speak clearly. Spring Creek members listen intently. Group meetings seem to be as challenging as many college level courses. 

Our son has been at Spring Creek for seven months. His artwork has been accepted into a juried show in Idaho. He fishes daily in a beautiful stream which runs through this idyllic wilderness campus. Each child takes turns tending a beautiful vegetable garden, cooking community meals, and maintaining the campus. Traditional high school level courses are offered when each child is ready to learn. 

There have been setbacks in our son's stay at Spring Creek. I can't begin to predict where the dialectical process will lead. I do know that my son can hug me. I know he is much wiser than most college students. I know that substituting short range goals for long range goals, makes sense to all of us involved in our son's life process. I feel truly fortunate to have found Spring Creek. A Parent, New Mexico. 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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