“So, I have this awesome idea,” were the first words out of Leillah's mouth as she bounced into the office for her latest weekly mentoring session. “Yeah, so what's new,” I thought to myself with an inner smile, as I opened her DRC online portfolio mentoring page and clicked the start meeting tab. When she saw I was ready, she stopped dancing around in the chair and hit me with her latest, “I want to open a Maker Space, because I want to spend my time doing exactly what I am doing now --- using my talents to create stuff.” We proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes excitedly discussing details, along with a concrete plan of action. We got so carried away that I forgot to type notes into her mentoring form and we then had to go back to recreate the conversation.
Leillah will spend the next couple months researching other Maker Spaces around the country to get additional ideas. She will contact the county planner to investigate the ReUse Center that has been proposed for St Lawrence County to see if there is any overlap opportunities available and she has to decide whether this will be a for profit or not-for-profit business. We concluded that January would be a good time for the two of us to schedule a meeting with someone from the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton to devise a business plan.
Leillah already has a solid sense of what this business will look like. She wants a place where people can either pay a monthly membership fee or a one time rate to use the tools, equipment, and resources to produce their own stuff. She wants to have classes available and a storefront to sell her own works as well as the products of her clientele. She also envisions sporting the same vividly colored, comfortable, and unconventional wardrobe she wears now. Leillah is finishing her high school career in three years, will take a gap year, and, is considering taking college classes in art and business, because she feels those will be helpful in establishing the Maker Space. It is not surprising, knowing Leillah, that she has such a clearly defined goal.
I was impressed with Leillah from the minute I met her, in July 2015, when she and her mom came to DRC looking for help with all the homeschool logistics. She had just completed her freshman year at Canton Central, and, after struggling through her years of traditional school, knew that she was not going back. Leillah has the distinction of being the first DRC student member of the 15/16 academic year and I knew immediately that she would be an integral part of the DRC community. She was poised, mature, articulate, motivated, expressive, clearly talented, and not afraid to voice her opinions or interests during that first meeting.
Leilah devoted last fall to exploring her fascination with forensics (due in large part, I believe, to watching Grey's Anatomy) and was able to spend time in the Physical Anthro Lab at SUNY Potsdam with Dr Malit and his intern. Her passion for horses and riding led to an internship at a local horse farm during the winter and spring. She was convinced that she would own a riding stable, train horses, and offer lessons as an adult. Leillah spent the whole summer engaged in all of that, as an intern, at the Sand Hill Stable in St Regis Falls and discovered that, yes, she does love horses and wants to own them someday, however, that is probably not what she wants to do as a career.
This fall, Leillah rediscovered her enthusiasm for artistic expression and has devoted hours to producing crafts, drawings, paintings, and, this last few weeks, designing and painting murals. Her fondness for brightly intense color and intricate patterns is a constant that is woven, not only through her art, but throughout her entire life. I am so very proud of her intellect, ideas, openness, pure wackiness, and her willingness to embrace her own unique brand of weirdness (her word), which is utterly refreshing and frankly contagious. My day is made even more complete, to be totally honest, when I hear those seven little words, “Hey Maria, I have an awesome idea!” Leillah is, indeed, a daily inspiration and we love her dearly.
Deep Root Center is seeking other brightly shining super stars who will thrive in our supportive, safe, and caring environment. Contact us now, if you want to be part of an educational community that flaunts its flexibility, advocacy, and enthusiasm, where kids are encouraged to explore their current interests, discover new ones, and present ideas that will be taken seriously. We are here to listen to your story and help you implement your visions today.
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DRC Concert Join us at the Canton Free Library Thursday, December 15th at 1pm for an eclectic blend of rock, folk, Irish traditional, and original music performed by our very own DRC students and friends. This is a free program (donations gladly accepted) and everyone is welcome (bring a friend or two). Be prepared to be impressed. These guys are good!
Save the Date - Feb 16 Feel the Heat – A Caribbean Inspired Fundraising Dinner and Silent Auction