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Happy New Year!
Let's jump right into this issue of the newsletter!

Holiday Party!


Burrito Fridays 
12 years and 5,000+ burritos!
On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana. With devastation so widespread, Helena Marcus, a teacher at Wellsprings, decided to help. Over the winter holiday break, she and a group of six students volunteered for a week to help others in areas struck by the hurricane.
Shortly after the group returned to Wellsprings, with the goal of continuing to serve others, the idea was hatched of cooking and giving out burritos to people in our community who were hungry. Helena Marcus began the program in the Spring of 2006 and it has continued non-stop for the past twelve years. Helena eventually moved to France, but Bob Schlichting and other teachers have kept the tradition going.
Four times a year, during one of the Friday cooking classes led by Chanci Herer, students make 100-125 burritos and then wrap them in aluminum foil to distribute. And sometimes, especially during the winter, they include a small bag with a cookie, donated mittens or socks, a toothbrush, or a piece of candy.
Students travel in twos and are in sight of a teacher. They are instructed on how to approach someone, how to treat them respectfully, and when to leave someone alone if they look like they’re having a hard time and don’t want to be approached. Role-playing is practiced in how to act kindly in response to someone saying something rude and how to give the person respect and space. Of course, 49 out of 50 times people are kind and grateful! And students have been told that they make the best burritos which has got to feel good :) !
Here, in the students' words, are what they have to say about their experiences giving burritos to people who are hungry:

  • “It feels good to give people something they are happy to get.”
  • “I’ve been able to meet some cool people. I love going!”
  • “It’s fun to do and feels good. And since we’ve cooked the burritos we know they are good!”
  • “Sometimes it seems that the person doesn’t talk to a lot of people so it feels good to talk with them.”
  • “It’s a real perspective changer.”
  • “It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and I go to bed knowing I’ve done something good.”

Student Art

In Chanci’s art class the students are encouraged to explore various art mediums. Here are some drawings-in-progress.

The Amazing People of Wellsprings
A year long series

This newsletter's focus:
Paul Schroder, teacher at Wellsprings since 2001.
Interviewed by Chris Meeker (parent at school).


Paul Schroder

Quick Bio:
Paul Schroder has a B.A. in History and Political Science, a M.A. in Secondary Social Studies, and a law degree (known as a J.D.). While practicing law, he worked as a prosecutor as well as a workers' compensation attorney. He later got an Oregon teaching license, and has taught many classes in the realms of World Geography and History. He also taught test preparation courses for Kaplan. Paul has been a Wellsprings teacher since the fall of 2001.
It’s not every day that you meet a high school teacher who was previously practicing law. Which gave me an idea on how to have some fun. Dear reader, can you spot the fourteen words/phrases in the next paragraph that are often used by attorneys as I tell some of Paul’s history (answers at the end of the article)?
So, why did Paul want a fresh start? Why this conviction to change careers? What was the appeal of teaching? Why would he go on this journey of discovery? Well, in his opinion, it was a moot point that all of the evidence pointed to undue hardship if he continued to practice law. The verdict was in: A voluntary transfer was needed if he was to reverse the damage he was incurring.  Paul’s main complaint was that his legal jobs didn’t have meaning and that he witnessed a lot of stress that was manufactured. In brief, Paul knew he had to make a change to have a fulfilling life.
Thankfully for him, and for us, he chose teaching at Wellsprings.
Paul's first teaching job was in a Virginia public school when he was going to school for his Masters Degree. Like in many public schools, students were taught in a traditional way and when Paul first came to Wellsprings that is how he taught. He quickly found out, however, that Wellsprings students didn’t want to be taught this way. 
In addition to learning how to teach differently than he had just been taught, Paul discovered that he really liked having the freedom to get to know the students and help them develop not only academically but also socially, emotionally, and physically. In short, helping them become well rounded individuals. He loves the “teachable moments” which happen a lot at Wellsprings because the students aren’t afraid to ask questions. "What is the student interested in learning and how can I meet them there?," he often asks himself. 
Paul enjoys connecting with the students as fellow human beings and tells a story about music as an example. “I didn’t play guitar when I started working here. While in Eugene I was hanging out with friends who played music and I learned how to play guitar. A year or two later I saw a student pick up a guitar and hold it the wrong way. And I realized I don’t know much about guitar yet but at least I could help him learn how to hold it in a comfortable way. And then I parlayed it into a guitar class and have had dozens of students throughout the years that might otherwise never in their lives have picked up a guitar. In a traditional music class I would need certain credentials to teach and have to teach music theory which would discourage many students from participating. But here I can encourage students to engage with a musical instrument in a way that no one ever encouraged me to do. My theory with the students is to not get in their way and to encourage them. At Wellsprings I have the freedom to make these judgment calls. And in this way, I can meet the students in ways that most of us weren’t.” 
What else does Paul like about Wellsprings? He appreciates that the school encourages him, holds him to high standards, and supports him. When he does make a mistake or has a less-than-easy interaction with a student, rather than saying why he’s right, he’s learned to say, “Here’s where I’m wrong.” He says that, “To make a mistake, recognize and apologize for it, and then move forward, is part of me doing my job better.”
Paul also likes the balance at Wellsprings of respecting the individual and speaking your mind, but doing it in a way that doesn’t cause pain or suffering. He said it’s hard to learn but is a wonderful approach. In addition, he enjoys teaching critical thinking and watching a student make a breakthrough.
And in closing, Paul, said, “It’s a real privilege to get to know students in a genuine way. My life is richer for knowing them. I enjoy the fresh perspectives of new students and I enjoy when the students who’ve graduated, come back to visit. I didn’t think I would be at Wellsprings this many years when I first started. And I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Thank you, Paul, for all your years of teaching and caring. And for being a part of our Wellsprings community!
*Here are the fourteen words/phrases used by attorneys that were included in the paragraph introducing Paul: Fresh start, conviction, appeal, discovery, opinion, moot, evidence, undue hardship, verdict, voluntary transfer, reverse, damage, complaint, brief.

January 18th
LCC Culinary Program
Students will visit LCC and partake of some delicious food!

January 21st
Martin Luther King Day
School is closed.

January 25th
Registration for new term

January 30th
End of term

January 31st
Professional Development Day
School is closed.

February 1st
Grading Day
School is closed.

Know someone who would like this newsletter?
Do you know family members or extended members of the Wellsprings Community who would enjoy receiving the Wellsprings Way? Forward this issue along to them or reply with their email address and we’ll send them future issues!

We want to hear your…
…thoughts, story ideas, anecdotes, suggestions, and contributions! We want to hear all of them! Perhaps there is something you've been wondering about that the Wellsprings Way team could investigate? Hit "reply" to this newsletter, let us know what it is, and we'll "get on it"!

Wellsprings Way Newsletter Group: Chris Meeker (Ben’s dad), Dawn Meckelson, Dennis Hoerner, Gen Schaack.

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