Discovery Academy (DA) is a program for troubled teens. Teens who attend DA can learn how to manage their out of control behavior, mature, and excel. For teens who achieve the highest level of excellence while attending DA, the school offers an Honors Program. 38% of troubled teens who attend DA not only complete the Honors Program during their time at DA, they also graduate from high school. One DA therapist, Austin Haacke, honors student excellence by crafting a pen as a gift for each student.
Austin has always enjoyed making things with his hands. He has more than 20 years experience in woodworking. Austin has compared Discovery Academy to Home Depot.
“If you have a hole in your wall Home Depot is not going to fix it for you. But if you come to them, and they are going to give you the tools, skills, and materials necessary for you to go home and fix it yourself,” said Austin. “That really is what we focus on while your kiddo is here. We want to provide them with the tools, skills, and materials necessary to succeed.”
Like holes in walls, family problems seldom fix themselves. However, after completing the Honors Program and graduating from high school, students return home with the skills they need to fix problems for themselves. Completing the Honors program is one more way of ensuring that both the parents and the students will have the right tools their toolbox.
Austin wanted to do something unique to honor the students who have worked hard to transform their lives. These students demonstrate their genuine growth by completing the Honors Program and graduating from high school. He chose to craft pens for students. Making a thing himself carries a special meaning for Austin. He hopes it will remind them of the experiences at DA, and the effort they have put in to crafting a new life for themselves. These pens are also a functional reminder of the students’ experiences at DA.
“Education is such a big focus of our program, I wanted them to have something that they could use in a school setting or in work setting even and have a tactile reminder, of what they have accomplished,” said Austin.
Austin creates a unique design for each student. He also chooses a specific wood that reflects some of the characteristics of that particular student. Depending on the complexity of the design, the pens can between one to four hours to complete. The care and effort that Austin puts into making each pen exemplify the concern that DA aspires to demonstrate to each student.