This day was a bittersweet day.
A day that we as Roots of Success instructors have now grown all too accustomed to.
The day was bitter because we were reminded of the sobering fact of this communion. The fact that this day meant the end of our journey together.
The day was sweet because we were gathered together elated to celebrate the accomplishments of great men. Men that we had the tremendous privilege of guiding through this journey. Men that sowed the seeds of hardwork, commitment, and dedication to themselves and the Roots of Success curriculum and now reap the rewards of graduating such a program.
Roots of Success is a comprehensive environmental education curriculum that increases students understanding of environmental problems, solutions, the green economy, and green jobs. While simultaneously strengthening core academic and labor market skills.
The program is not merely about providing people with information and skills but instead R.O.S. is about sharing knowledge and positivity built on the foundation of love.
Love for self, love for others, love for humanity, community, and society because without love we have nothing.
Now as we look upon the 9th and 10th graduating classes sitting at attention eagerly waiting for their graduation ceremony to begin. We as instructors are trying to come to grips with the fact that there will never be another 9th and 10th class.
There is no way to recreate the magic.
There is no way to recreate the candid conversations and transparency.
There is no way to recreate the heated debates that lead to deep introspections and new revelations.
Yes, there will be other classes but none like these. For the uniqueness and authenticity of each class can never be lost, diminished, or replicated.
We recall the first day of classes, the first day that these scholars entered Room 2204, the R.O.S. classroom. One by one, they came in being warmly greeted at the door by strangers. Ten workbook modules and a HUB tour later, they left embracing new concepts and with new friendships forged through this shared experience. They all may have came in one way but today they all fill up these seats as transformed men.
For many of our students “Going Green” was a forgein concept, a seemingly unfathomable concept. Especially, when they were living in a world consumed by gray ad devoid of color.
Yet, the R.O.S. program here at Stafford Creek is doing the unfathomable. We are helping each student understand that they are precious, priceless and can make a difference.
Students often come into our classes feeling a societal disconnect. As if nothing they do matters or that any of the changes they make in life have any impact. That is until they learn that they are still an intricate part of the fabric of the environment. Both inside and outside of prison. We all are a part of the intricate web of life and the things we do (or don’t do) impact not only ourselves but others as well.
To the 9th and 10th graduating classes we want to congratulate you on your successful completion of the Roots of Success curriculum. But we want you all to know that the greatest and most lasting lessons are not those learned in a course, rather the greatest and most lasting lessons are those learned on the course, of life. To this end, the various experiences of our lives and the many lessons learned along the way shape who we are and are what create the uniqueness of each class.
R.O.S. at SCCC has been nothing short of a complete success. However this success has been a collaborative effort.
Without our partnership with the Sustainability in Prisons Project and the Evergreen State College. Without our amazing staff sponsors. Without the staff and administrative support, especially the unparalleled support of our former superintendent and the equally supportive new superintendent, none of this would be possible.
HOWEVER, the true unsung heroes of each class are not staff, administration, or even the instructors leading the classes, but the students. The men we are celebrating this day.
It is the synergy created by combining the collective experiences of these men that make R.O.S. so special. Without them, the R.O.S. curriculum is merely words typed out on paper and bound in workbooks.
It is the peer-to-peer interaction, the popular education format, and the transparent sharing of our personal (sometimes TOO personal) life experiences with one another that breathes life into the material and liberates the minds of the participants.
This day was a bittersweet day but the bitter makes the sweet taste that much better. So, I can speak for my fellow instructors when I say that we are looking forward to doing it all again.
Congrats to the graduates and remember that the past may be behind you but it does not have to define you.