Phil and Carolyn DeLong
Phil DeLong, Director of Student Support

Change is in the air. In late October, it's impossible to miss the clear signs of seasonal change, from trees that have dropped most of their leaves, to the first few snowfalls of the season, to icy mornings on the bogs, to increasingly-shorter days. As autumn shows signs of flirting with winter, I'm mindful, too, of change that happens each day at Conserve School, often in more subtle ways: the growth in our students, and in our community of students and staff. 

Certainly, our classrooms are fertile ground for this growth and change, as students discover, explore, discuss, and experience, on a daily basis, skills and concepts that stretch them as learners. If we look only in the classrooms, though, we'll miss other signs of change. As Director of Student Support, I'm particularly mindful of the growth students experience outside of the classroom. Oftentimes, that growth flows naturally from the unscripted "stuff" of daily life in a residential school and community, such as figuring out how to more effectively manage time (often by first failing to do it well), managing new relationships with peers and staff, figuring out how to best study and do school work, and sharing living space with lots of other people.

While these unscripted experiences can yield great growth, we feel that this growth can be accelerated and enhanced through intentional support measures. Caring staff (including students' advisors), by reflecting and processing with students, help them to look not only for growth, but for new challenges. This semester, we've also reconfigured the weekly schedule to make time, during the school day, for intentional exploration of community-living skills and practices (what we call "Student Life Seminar" and "Student Life Enrichment"). For 50 minutes on Tuesday, and 75 minutes on Wednesday, our students, with staff facilitation, explore issues such as how to have productive, respectful dialogue, or how to productively manage conflict. They've also used this time to set community norms and expectations (including appropriate touch), and to explore issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (including this week's discussion of cultural appropriation). 

In both the facilitated and unscripted experiences of life here, Conserve School students, day by day, take steps of personal growth. Along the way, we work together to nurture a community that supports that growth. The growth is sometimes challenging and difficult, and other times joy-filled and delightful, but it's always a privilege to be a part of. As we work our way through the second half of this semester, I'm eager to see what changes and growth lie ahead for each of us.

That's all folks, bye for now...

Phil DeLong
Director of Student Support