Transitions Class: A Token to Take Home (And Further)
by Sequoya Tromba, graduating class
One of Wellsprings' most unique features is a class held by only one teacher in only two terms out of the year, and it's called 'Transitions'. Juniors are required to take it, and by now, the structure has been somewhat set in stone. But from an outside view, it can seem sort of confusing, and after a lot of reflection, I realized that although it's just one class, it embodies everything we're about and serves a thousand purposes at once.
Paul, the teacher of Transitions, says the curriculum has three main questions at the center which the students are asked to try and learn how to answer: "Who am I?", "What do I want to do?", and "How do I get there?" It's not just about answering them now, it's about learning how to answer them procedurally, at every step of the way in life. Transitions is a class about realism in a chaotic world, to take the fear out of things like money, investment, applying for jobs, going to college or not going to college.
The first term is aimed more towards these big questions with a more broad scope, while the second term focuses heavily on specifics-- how do I do taxes? How do I invest money, and what is investment as a concept? Paul says 'investment' is such an important concept that even people uninvolved in schools might do well to teach their kids how big a role it has in their lives. Delayed gratification is something a lot of students, myself included, were still having trouble with when we went into Transitions.
When he started teaching this class over a decade ago, there was a stronger focus on college in specific, and now he sees it as something that's becoming a less broadly available option. However, he is adamant that gaining more skills and training is absolutely essential, no matter where anyone goes. One of Transitions' bigger-scale goals is to encourage that lifelong learning, even if college doesn't factor into it. Paul still spends plenty of time going into specifics of degrees, colleges, and education as a tool, but like all things in the class, he wants to be true to how life is-- there are a lot of routes towards a lot of goals, and treating that with realism instead of fear made Transitions, for me, an incredibly gratifying and helpful class.
Sometimes it seems like Wellsprings is seen from the outside as a safety net for kids who have trouble with other schools, but I don't think it needs to be just that at all. Things like Transitions are better for kids than the curriculum provided at other high schools, no matter what background that kid has. Paul sees it as a limitation of time and resources for other schools, but I agree with him that it's a tragedy other places don't put more of a focus on it-- because as time went on, I realized how important Transitions is to the people here. It's one of the many reasons Wellsprings works as a first option for kids looking for a good high school, not a second or third option. And in these final weeks of my final year here, I'm realizing that this transition out of high school will be one of the hardest.
But through the fear of it, I was prepared for this transition. I plan to move through life focusing on those three questions Paul posed at the beginning of the class: and to keep growing, whatever weird path I make. So while this article is an information piece, to highlight what I think is probably the most important class at Wellsprings, it's also a 'thank you'.
Thank you, Paul, for giving me a token to take home -- and further.