Know Thyself Maine

Spirited ’24: Why Meaning Matters

The classroom was pin-drop still. Seventh grade humanities teacher, Aaron Filieo, repeated the question: “Does popularity feed the soul?” For an educator, there is no better feeling than engaging the undivided attention of your students as together you delve into life’s deepest questions. In that stillness, the joy on Aaron’s face was palpable.

This was ground-zero. The reason he had entered this most noble of professions in the first place. To open doorways. Guide young people on their passage to adulthood. And seek meaning amid the perplexities of life.

“The search for meaning begins in wonder.”  

The search for meaning begins in wonder. After nearly a quarter-century of classroom work, we have discovered that this quest actually animates the lives of young people, whether they recognize it or not. The search itself lights them up. If given the chance, the act of seeking answers to profound questions feeds the spirit, inspiring the seeker…and the teacher who guides them. 

Pursuit of big understandings can turn disillusionment and hopelessness into reverence and awe. In our view, the mental health crisis ravaging our young people can best be addressed by a conscious, concerted effort to guide them on their journey of self-discovery, as elders have done since the dawn of time, helping this generation rediscover wonder as they seek to make sense of a challenging world. 

“The act of seeking answers to profound questions feeds the spirit, inspiring the seeker…and the teacher who guides them.”

We had the privilege of watching Aaron work as he piloted SpiritSeries On Screen. This next evolution of our programming empowers classroom teachers with vibrant video support every step of the way as they lead their students through the Series’ three-week drama-based wisdom adventure. So, unlike the many thousands of program participants before them, approximately 100 students in California and Maine were guided by their classroom teachers this spring through self-discovery, Greek philosophy-style, and on to memorable performances of our one-act play “Seeking Socrates.”

After the show, when asked to summarize his SpiritSeries On Screen experience, Aaron replied “rewarding.” Then closed his eyes for a moment and slowly smiled: “Incredibly rewarding.”

We end this school year in gratitude for our partner teachers, and classroom teachers everywhere. As we look forward to the year ahead, with the many ways that our programs can bring new meaning to students—and the teachers who serve them—we thank you, once again, for continuing to fuel our mission with your very generous support!

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