The 3 R's of Kindle Farm

Written By: 
Terry Flood

I have heard it said many times here at school, the three Rs of Kindle Farm: Relationship, Relationship, Relationship. As a staff member, it begins on the first school day that you are lucky enough to work here. "Take him for a walk up the hill, get to know each other." And that is exactly what we do. We get to know each other. We learn about our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, our pasts, our presents, and our hopes for the future. This is not a process that happens in just one walk of the hill, though. It happens all day, every day at The Kindle Farm School.

Our students come to us with many different types of challenges to overcome. Some may have social/ emotional anxieties. Others may have distinct diagnoses that create learning difficulties for them. Most simply have not yet discovered what is unique about their learning style, and how it is that they can modify lessons so that they can learn what is being taught. When we build solid relationships between staff and students, we can discover who each student is, and how it is that each individual can learn how to learn most effectively.

In each of the core academic classes, the teachers work hard to create curriculum that is flexible. In this way, each student's expectations can be adjusted to suit his individual strengths, interests and learning style. A student may need an audio book to keep up with class. Many guys might be able to grasp the equation to calculate perimeter easier with a tape measure in their hand. A musical learner can grasp rhyme-scheme much swifter studying songs before poetry. We get to know each student and help them find the keys to unlock their own success.

Learning occurs well beyond the classroom setting at Kindle Farm School. We learn in the garden; we learn in the forest; we learn in the kitchen. We learn on bikes, horses and weight benches. We learn on computers, guitars, basketball courts and van rides. Most of all, we learn through conversations. We talk while we rake; we talk while we cook; we talk while we re-invent "Sweet Home Alabama". We talk a lot, but staff members listen more. We find students engaging and embracing the school day and we offer them praise. We find kids caught in a familiar struggle and we try to provide them with new strategies to overcome that struggle. We build relationships with kids so that when successes happen, the students take pride in receiving praise from someone of value in their lives. We connect with the kids so that when the going gets tough, we can be the calming force that will help move things in a positive direction.

Many of our students have had less than fulfilling experiences in other school settings. Kindle Farm tries to discover what is unique and special about each of the students that come our way, and help them discover that learning can be a positive and exciting process. Here at Kindle Farm, we build relationships. We do so in order to help boys learn who they are and begin to take steps toward being the best man they can be.