Presentations that are entertaining, inspiring, and touch your heart and soul are few and rare, but I already knew, if anybody could make that happen, it would be Joell Dunlap.
When I first met Joell and listened to her teach, I quickly realized she is one of a the few true story tellers left in this world who can remind you of the enjoyment people must have felt sitting around the fire having perfect vivid pictures painted through voice, tone, words, and something magical that is simply not tangible. Her focus “How to grow a program” sounded business- like, maybe even with expectations of graphs, numbers, and cold facts- what she presented was a roadmap, post markers, and my yellow brick road.
I do not have a program like many other folks in the room had. I do not have the financial capability to start a program, or school I envision, but I was willing to dream and play. When she asked us to close our eyes and truly SEE our program in every detail, not just the program, but EVER DETAIL, tears were forming in my eyes and my throat was getting tight from the experience- I could briefly see the 20 acres with green fields bordering state forest for easy access to endless winding trails for my work with veterans and children, I could briefly see the small log cabin in the corner of the property, just large enough to allow my daughter to have troubled teenagers stay at our place whenever they did not know where to go (her idea by the way), with a bunk bed room in the loft, simple, small, but beautiful, the creek providing the peaceful tranquility so many of us need; I could see the small school house offering services to children who just did not get a fair hand in life and really needed a better experience with teachers who care and want to help the child grow without suffering, the horses peacefully grassing while the dogs cuddled up beside the natural fire pit;
Yes, Joell got me to see all this- but there was a drastic change in my mind, the dream bursting like a bubble touched by a rough surface not allowing to form beautiful rainbows before peacefully dissolving- it was a very clear message in my visual imagination: The architectural nightmare of our school buildings, the small windows that do not open, the “quiet rooms” imprisoning children who would need extra care, loving, and the ‘following the child’ concept, children with migraines and stomach aches because of stress in school, saddened and disappointed parents lost in a system of experts telling them what their child will never be able to do- this is my dream! This is my journey a higher power has put me on with an amazingly talented team- we are on our way to make the change where it is needed the most. The tears were swelling up because of the vulnerability these students are exposed to and the power that so often take their dignity away. There is no earthly way anybody should abandoned these little folks who need us the most. Governments and schools are institutions that will not look at the individual child and offer a chance; this has to come from teachers, parents, care givers. If we dare to dream, if we dare to want to see the detail of a powerful idea to ‘help grow our program’, Movement Method, this easy to implement framework, this conceptual international approach, needs to be in schools. It needs to be in primary and secondary education so children who need it the most get access.
Again, Joell has done it- she refreshed my memory of what is important, put things in perspective and refocused my mission. With the New Trails Learning Center creative team, we worked hours and days and brainstormed ideas how to get the job done. We are moving forward, and I am extremely honored to be part of this because it will make a difference for everybody who will be touched by it.