Letters: Your thanks


Editor of the Reformer:

Kindle Farm just celebrated our 20th Birthday and we want to say THANK YOU!

First, we want to send a deep thanks to all students, past and present, who come to Kindle Farm and share their gifts. It is the students who make this place a fun, vibrant, and energetic community. It is you who have challenged our staff and our organization to improve, grow, and truly find authentic ways to connect with you. When Kindle Farm is at its best we build relationships with you, find modes to effect behavior change without shame and blame, and develop engaging and thought provoking lessons that you can relate to. Most importantly, we have learned from you that, as Hiam Ginott once stated, "In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized." The fun and true fact is that as educators, we must look at ourselves in order to serve you better. We have never been perfect, but we always strive to meet your needs. Thank you for that opportunity.

We recognize the hard work of families and caregivers who work tirelessly to support their children. Thanks for coming to school events, important meetings, and trusting us to care for the boys. We see our boys and young men as capable, questioning learners who need to develop trusting relationships with healthy adults and learn new ways of communicating, problem solving, and learning more effectively. This is our mission and without your trust and teamwork we would be much less successful.

We want to thank the many districts from Windham and southern Windsor counties in Vermont and Cheshire and Sullivan counties in New Hampshire that trust us to meet the needs of their students. It is your trust and our collaboration that makes truly effective teams to solve the complex social/emotional needs of the families we serve. From our closest neighbor at Windham Central to the farthest New Hampshire towns of Newport we are privileged to have worked with you in meeting the demands of students on 504 plans and IEP's alike. We know the decision to send a student to an out-of-district placement is not a simple one what with the civil rights of inclusion, financial pressures, and keeping access to the many fruitful community-centered programming you provide. In fact, we share in an obligation to work with you to build successful transition plans towards the least restrictive environment and in some cases to the larger world of adult life. Without your support Kindle Farm would only be an idea and not the robust school that has been developing all these years.

Kindle Farm is a unique institution characterized by a spirited community feel, robust "hands-on" programming, progressive educators, and a nimble & responsive administration that is driven by the teams of staff doing direct service. And these unique characteristics are due, in a large part, to the vision and passions of Bob Bursky, the Founding Director of the school. This school, that started its humble beginnings as a tutorial and after-school program, quickly grew from 7 students and a van to a thriving hub of educational opportunity. Why? Because this model worked. Passionate adults were able to mentor students and create important behavioral change in this independent setting without an overly therapeutic tone. The value of relationship, authenticity, and staying student centered mark Bob's original vision, and we hope that can be seen even to this day.

As the school's culture grew more positive and struggling students found an emotionally and physical safe environment, we really began to be leaders in the delivery of academics to these students who had not seen academic success in traditional settings. Dana Gordon-Macey, who lead this school from 2009-2014, worked incredibly hard to evolve academic delivery and institutional health. It is with great thanks and admiration that we recognize the hard work forging a school from the ground up and evolving to use best practices recognized state wide.

Kindle Farm owes its staff, past and present, for living Kindle Farm, for being Kindle Farm, for demanding organizational growth, and for contributing to a team that grows, thrives, and supports each other. This job can be delightful and fun but also challenging and emotional. It is your combined resilience that models the change we wish to see in our students and see in the world. Our students thank you and Kindle Farm thanks you, deeply.

A school that develops community partners is far richer for it! We have been blessed with support from local businesses like the Richard's Group, who has supported by sponsoring our Annual Golf Tournament or like Fresh Jones, based out of Greenfield, who produces our website and beautiful marketing materials. Other businesses get involved by supporting specific projects. Local company New Chapter has donated over 50K to our vocational and wellness programs over the last few years, and LineSynch Architecture, in Wilmington has helped us design our recent kitchen expansion. We value these and other local businesses' investments in our students and our mission.

And, what would Kindle Farm be without our beautiful campuses located in the beautiful and supportive towns of Newfane and Townshend? The landscape of these picturesque hill towns is our backdrop and an essential asset that makes our programming possible. We are able to bike in local woods, swim in the West River, and enjoy tranquil views up the West River Valley from our classrooms. With amazing neighbors like Dave and Janice Onyon, businesses like WW Building Supply, Ron's Husqvarna, and the Newfane Creamery our students have healthy interactions with great community members that may last a life time. It is the support of these towns, neighbors and business that add to our community and allow our boys to thrive.

Lastly, Kindle Farm wants to thank our parent organization HCRS. During the financial struggles of 2007, HCRS came as a community partner to keep Kindle Farm fiscally solvent. Since then our relationship has been one of supportive inclusion, robust clinical development, and an important sense of common vision. We are incredibly thankful to all the teams of HCRS who support us to achieve our goals.

In conclusion, our last 20 years started in direct response to an underserved need in Windham County. As we have grown, we know that Kindle Farm has become the school that allows our students the chance to grow and see themselves as engaged learners who are caring members of this community we all share. Thanks to all who have shaped this vision and know that it is your contributions that will continue to serve our youth well into their bright future.

Drew Gradinger, Director Kindle Farm School Newfane, Jan. 20

Editor of the Reformer:

For the 33rd year in a row the Charlie Slate Memorial Christmas Breakfast was another huge success, serving 742 free breakfast meals to the community including deliveries.

Thank you to the hardworking team of volunteers and to our amazing kitchen crew who go above and beyond every year to help keep the breakfast a success.

My sincerest gratitude to the American Legion and Sportsman's Lounge for the use of their facilities again this year and to Don Strange for opening the doors for us as 4:20 a.m.

A special thanks to the Brattleboro Reformer and WTSA for their continued media coverage throughout the years.

Thank you to the entire community for your outpouring of support, for everyone who donated cookies or made monetary donations to help keep my grandfather's tradition alive, without each and every one of you none of this would be possible.

I would like to express my appreciation for the generous contributions from Dunkin Donuts, Country Kitchen, Farrell Distributing Co., Black River Produce, Adams Seafood, and our anonymous pancake mix donator. As well as the 2014 and 2015 maple syrup donations from Hidden Springs Maple, Robb Family Farm, Fred Nobble, Glabach Maple Farm, and High Meadows Farm.

Last but certainly not least a huge thank you to my family for all their love and support during this hectic time. I couldn't have done this without you.

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Jadi Flynn Brattleboro, Dec. 29

Editor of the Reformer:

The Marine of Detachment 798 and the ladies of the Auxiliary Unit 798, Marine Corps League report the most successful Toys for Kids campaign to date. With the help of area clubs, organizations, businesses and many individuals, we were able to meet the demand and provide gifts for several hundred needy kids. We were also able to help other providers with gifts for families on their lists.

Once again, Cheryl Bachinski's Hinsdale Elementary School kids led the way by filling five barrels with toys for other less fortunate kids. Great job again this year.

We also had help from area Cub Scouts and 4H'rs who donated and distributed toys for us.

Special thanks as always, go to Tim Johnson, WTSA, Sean Patrick and Gary Ferguson, WYRY, and The Brattleboro Reformer for their continuing support.

We worked with the Windham County Sheriff's Department again this year and enjoyed not only filling the Humvee but raising over $2,400 as well. Thank you Sheriff Clark, Deputy 1st Class Brett Gaylord who led the charge and all the other deputies, police, firefighters, and first responders from around the county for their participation.

Special thanks again this year to the generosity of the staff and ownership of Auto Mall who came through with yet another dump truck full of toys to help us finish up this year's campaign and start next year's.

In conclusion, I would be remiss if I didn't thank our Marines, Ladies Auxiliary and others for their ongoing efforts and dedication to Toys for Kids.

R.B.Hodgdon, chairman Marine Corps League Toys for Kids, Jan. 13


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