Opinion & Essays
- Aug, 1994 Issue #29
(In the June, 1994 Issue of Woodbury Reports, #28, Tom Bratter, Founder and President of the John Dewey
Academy in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, described an especially confrontational enrollment interview in an essay titled "The Interview".
The student stayed, and the following is that student's response about two months after enrollment at John Dewey Academy.)
When I think about my interview at the John Dewey Academy, I laugh at my immaturity and stupidity.
I arrived with my image, which Tom described as "the planet of the apes." I had a filthy beard and long hair. I was confused and frightened.
Tom made me feel worse by confronting me. He angered me deeply. I was given an ultimatum by my mother; I would attend the Elan School,
the John Dewey Academy, or a juvenile facility in New Jersey. In my delirium, I chose the juvenile facility, which was amusing to
Tom and the other John Dewey students. I was in a state of rage, my reality testing was distorted. Bratter would not permit me to
play games. I hated him when he described what fate awaited me if I selected the House of Detention. But I knew he was right.
I felt a strong dislike towards Bratter in the beginning because he consistently mocked and ridiculed
me and my crazy thinking. He forced me to view myself realistically and would not permit me to delude myself. I had no choice but
to believe him when he mentioned he was confident I would self-destruct. What impressed me is that he never tried to convince me to
attend the John Dewey Academy. Actually, he told me to leave because I was so stupid. He said he wanted students who knew they had
made mistakes, and wanted to change and would agree to work hard to improve.
Tom is strange and crazy because he has declared war against my dishonest, self-destructive behavior.
I'll change because he has the power to make my life miserable if I don't. Do I like him? Yes! I am beginning to trust him because
I always know what he is thinking. I am positive that we will do well together as we remain:
IN THE STRUGGLE TOGETHER,
Copyright © 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced
without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)