Many people are curious who our students are and why they chose DRC. My response is always very brief and carefully crafted, “We serve young people who are bullied, bored, or struggling for whatever reason in the traditional academic model and want a different way forward.”
There are, in reality, scores of explanations for why youth leave the public school system (either quit school entirely, homeschool, or join an alternative learning facility) and many of them cannot be tidily summed up in one brief sentence. I will say, however, the most common causes are related to the following paragraph I wrote three weeks ago in a post entitled Stratification:
Many students and families, right here in the North Country, are stigmatized, pigeonholed, categorized, segregated, intimidated, and encounter institutionally sanctioned discrimination, simply because of their economic and social standing.
Socio – economic status, as mentioned in the above excerpt, is frequently the determining factor in a child's (family's) ability to navigate the system. These are the bright, inventive, creative, resourceful, capable, inquisitive, anxious, bewildered, quite often labeled, and occasionally angry young people who show up at our door seeking advice and a chance to take charge of their education. They are the ameba shaped kids who are entirely fed up trying to squeeze themselves into those perfectly round holes.
They are, also, quite often, the kids (and families) who are least likely to have the support of an informed, passionate advocate who can facilitate the multitudes of associated bureaucracy and biases to attain a workable plan that allows, within the very restricted confines of the established definition, for a modicum of academic success.
When Deep Root Center was in the embryonic stages of development, three years ago, before we opened our doors, we knew that this scenario was our truth. We are operating in one of the most economically depressed regions of the entire country. None of us needs the statisticaldata to prove poverty runs rampant in Northern New York, because, we are living it. There is also a significant body of research that equates impoverishment to an abundance of clearly defined social ills including: drug addiction, obesity, mental illness, food and job insecurity, and homelessness. Again, we don't need confirmation of these facts – this knowledge is blatantly, uncomfortably, and, in our face clear, every time we listen to the radio, watch the news, read the latest news account, or simply step out your door.
Deep Root Center is fulfilling a tangible need here in the North Country. This is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. The mission, to transform the very structure of our economic base by providing our student members (most of whom receive scholarship aid totaling over $57,000 this academic year) with the opportunity to access a dynamic education based on their individual talents, interests, and needs, is crystal clear.
DRC is our student's safe, enriching, nurturing --- home away from home where they are welcomed, trusted, mentored, appreciated, and encouraged. Through these initiatives DRC members will become confident, motivated, and educated members of society who are open-minded and ready to take on the task of creating a socially (and economically) just community.
There is no doubt in our minds that this work is essential and needed. However, we require your assistance to insure that Deep Root Center's services are available to all who seek them: spread the word about our programs, donate money, help us find and write competitive grant applications, and volunteer to mentor a youth, facilitate hands-on projects, or teach a class. Each child who understands the inherent possibilities of setting goals for future endeavors is an immense win for all of us.
The DRC academic year begins Tuesday, September 6th. The staff will be at the Center the week before - to plan, build the schedule, and prepare the space for our student members.
We will be accepting new student members throughout the year. If your child is dreading the upcoming school year, please know there is an alternative. We are here to answer any of your questions and help guide your family through the transitions of leaving school.
Would you like to spend some time with some awesome kids or are you eager to share your IT, carpentry, grant writing, our fundraising talents? Deep Root Center is the place for you. Contact us today.