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News & Views - Sept  2000 Issue #73

By Jane Samuels, Admissions
New Leaf Academy, Bend, Oregon

On Saturday, August 12, many old time friends from the emotional growth schools (both those working in and those referring to...) joined together to grieve the passing of John Padgett.† To many of us who were in this field as it began to develop, we were trained with stories of John Padgett and the magic that he performed in groups and workshops, changing the lives of young people. John was one of the ďgrandfathersĒ of emotional growth education as we know it today and his presence will be missed even though his influence is still with us in the form of a multitude of special purpose programs for youngsters. 

The varied people who came to pay their final respects and to celebrate Johnís life all had some choice story to relate about how Johnís well-place humor had allowed him to deliver an important bit of wisdom. The friendships and associations spanned some 25 plus years and crossed an ocean.† It was an impressive gathering, indeed, all with a link through this powerful and loving man. 

It occurred to me that emotional growth schools have become a ďcommunityĒ in and of ourselves.† Many of us talk to our young students about the importance of building a supportive community and learning to give back.† Johnís life should serve as an example of how this occurs.† Staff and students alike first come to an emotional growth school to learn about a new way of living and being.† It begins with respect for others and being accountable for our actions and how they might affect others.† We look inward, finding and defining our values.† We continually ask ourselves about what kind of people we really want to be.† Is is any wonder that staff members also change and grow, and, thus make decisions to move on to something or somewhere new?† If Johnís life is to be of any example, it is that in spite of change and conflict, true friends are always with us.† In fact, friendships seem to grow stronger. 

We all owe a prayer of thanks to John for being who he was; for teaching the lessons he could see so clearly; for giving us the opportunity to see each other once again, thus, allowing us to see our own growth by talking with those who were met earlier on the our pathways. 

We have a responsibility to the work that we do.† We must always remember why we do this work and safe guard the process that we all know works.† In this frenzied time where many only see the opportunity to earn vast amounts of money, letís make the time to reevaluate what is truly important in our work.† Letís learn to cooperate rather than compete; keep focused on our missions and values; make decisions that are best serve each child and his or her family.† Itís time to get back on track and do what we do best: Love the children of this world.† Itís what John did best. 

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