A Look Inside John’s Graduation from Eagle Ranch
Graduation is a special time at Eagle Ranch. Greater than any personal or academic achievement the graduate may have experienced, the most significant accomplishment for a boy or girl is going home. Upon graduation, a child returns home to their family, with the tools, resources and information needed to manage any future struggles. Families are also empowered to improve communication, build stronger relationships and deal with any difficulties before they become a crisis.
John spent 20 months at Eagle Ranch working on anger and how to work with others, rather than try to address problems by himself. His family also worked on struggles of raising a large family that includes adopted and special needs children.
Following are highlights from John’s graduation ceremony. Each ceremony is attended by key members of the team that work with each child and family during their time at Eagle Ranch.
Housemom, Sharon: “John’s parents, Leann and Gary, have embraced the choice-consequence model we teach here at the Ranch. They set goals with John that he could meet, and they saw results. His hard work at home and at the Ranch has paid off. I’m excited for you all.”
Housedad, Jerry: “I’ve been impressed with the plans you have for your life, John. We love you and are praying for you and your family. We’re excited to see you move forward.”
Program Assistant, Matthew: “The first week you were here, you were trying to get out of your math homework. Over time, you began taking on more responsibility and you’ve grown a ton. You take responsibility for yourself, your homework, for your chores. You’ve stepped up and shown your peers what it’s like to be a man.”
Counselor, Phillip: “John has been persistent and consistent in learning to overcome challenges. He’s moved from power struggles to be able to maintain cooperative relationships. Even with his siblings, he’s becoming a leader in his own home. Life has gone from a roller coaster to more gentle slopes. John became goal oriented and solution oriented.”
Director of Education, Jon: “This year was a turning point for John. He saw the connection to changes in his behavior to his relationships and his grades. Something happens inside of you as a person when you have the satisfaction of accomplishing your goals – I saw that in John and it blesses me. I’m so proud of you, John. I hope the success you had here at the Ranch will carry through to the rest of your life.”
Graduate, John – “Our family has gone through troubling times. The turning point was around my 12th month here. I decided that I was going to try to be more helpful than hurtful. One weekend when I went home, my mom pulled me aside and commented that I had changed. I guess seeing how happy she was made me want to continue. The thing I want to take home that I learned most here at the Ranch is dealing with my anger and not taking it out on my family. My family and I plan to use a group setting to solve problems productively. Thank you for sticking with my family through the difficult times, and thank you for making my family better.”
This story was featured in the Eagle Ranch Celebration 2017 Newsletter
Children in large, blended families sometimes struggle with finding their identity. With eight siblings, John had difficulty understanding where he fit in. Adopted when he was five, John also had issues with trust and expressing his feelings.
John’s misbehavior included teasing his sisters and disrespecting his parents. John and his mother faced daily power struggles. He constantly rebelled against his parents’ wishes. Struggling behaviorally and academically, John thought maybe he didn’t even belong at home and considered ways to get kicked out by his parents.
“My life was a mess. I figured I’d do a better job of fixing the problems I had caused instead of fixing them the way my parents wanted to,” said John. “I thought I would be better off on my own.”
Instead of kicking him out of the house, John’s parents, Leann and Gary, brought him to Eagle Ranch. It took John nearly eight months to realize the impact that the Ranch was having on his life. He learned how to talk through his emotions and discovered that goal setting helped him address his problems in a productive way. For the first time in years, his life didn’t feel like such a mess.
“John didn’t realize how much his brothers and sisters look up to him, even though he’s not the oldest,” said his dad, Gary. “He is a natural leader, and I believe his time at Eagle Ranch helped him not only discover the influence he has, but also how to use it in a productive way.”
John also recognizes the positive changes in his life. “At the Ranch, I have learned to control my anger and be a better brother and son,” said John.
John looks forward to returning home, completing high school and exploring a career in the Coast Guard as a certified underwater welder. He is hopeful, determined and excited to begin the next season of his life. Today, John understands who he is and how, even in his big family, there is a perfect fit for him.