Blog: September 2015

The Journey of Transformation
September 3, 2015

"Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars.  Butterflies are created through transformation."  Stephanie Pace Marshall.

For the Monarch butterfly, lasting transformation also requires a journey. 

A new school year begins at the UrbanPromise Academy (UPA) but not without our Freshman Orientation-- two days at North Bay Adventures on the Upper Chesapeake.  North Bay is an outdoor center with team building and challenge activities from kayaking to zip lines and low ropes.  All the activities are designed to challenge and build team work for the participants.

At the Academy we use this opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other before entering the rigors of the formal classroom.  Our students are introduced to the values of UrbanPromise and the many opportunities in and outside of the classroom.  Zip lines and challenge activities reveal much about individual character traits when under positive stress.  The groups dynamics also tell us a great deal about how the new students will work together to problem solve and think critically individually and collectively.

But now I have a confession: I think I'm getting too old for another class of freshman.  Will they ever make it? Or perhaps the better question is: will I ever make it?  Thirteen and fourteen year old teens, these kids were born in the twenty-first century!  But after a few hours with this group, I realize I've been here before.  I've wondered this every year since I've been leading our Freshman Orientations.

After returning from our orientation I decide to stop by my office to check on messages before heading home for the weekend and some much needed rest.  As I'm sitting at my desk checking my messages, into the office walks Chris Williams, one of my alum from the class of 2011.  Chris is heading back to Rutgers New Brunswick over the weekend to complete his final semester before a December graduation and hopes of law school.

Oh, to have known Chris as an Academy freshman you wouldn't have thought he'd ever make it.  He'd want to argue with you even if you simply said good morning-- he'd find reasons to rate it as just fair. 

When Chris was a sophomore at UPA, we had an elective class called Journeys, a study of the life cycle and migration of the Monarch Butterfly. We were blessed to be able to travel to see the wintering sanctuaries in the Trans-Volcanic Mountains of Michoacán, Mexico.  Most butterflies live only a matter of weeks, as do many generations of the Monarch, except for those that emerge from their chrysalis in late summer.  For them, there must be the journey in order for the butterfly to reproduce in early spring and for the future generati

ons to begin the journey north.  Nature taught us that without this journey of thousands of miles, transformation for the Monarch Butterfly would be fleeting.   Chris’ visit to my office was perfectly timed.  Reflecting on his journey and transformation reminds me of this necessary step and renewed my inspiration for this year and freshman classes to come. 

Keep on Trekkin’,


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