Fletcher Subers is a recent graduate of the most challenging academic program the U.S. military has to offer—an intense, accelerated technical school that crams 6+ years of college-level nuclear training into just 1.5 years. Fletcher is now a Qualified Nuclear Operator in the Navy, but as a 15-year-old, he was bored with school, refused to do homework, and fought with his parents until their relationship reached a breaking point.

“I would have terrible arguments with my Mom every day after school,” Fletcher remembers. “My dad would come home from work to a war zone.”

Fletcher’s parents knew about Shelterwood (Fletcher’s uncle is CEO Jim Subers). They enrolled Fletcher in the hopes that he could get back on track academically, and that they could find peace as a family.

Fletcher says he was angry with his parents at first, but several months into the program he started thinking about what it would mean to not work on his relationship with them. “It would have a negative impact on my relationship with my brothers,” he remembers thinking. “It would mean my future kids not knowing their grandparents. It would mean separating myself from my family. That’s not what I wanted.

Around four and half months in, Fletcher decided he wanted more from his relationship with his parents, from school, from life and from God.

Before Shelterwood, Fletcher said he had a relationship with God, but he wasn’t really pursuing it. Being exposed to chapel services, church, and the changes he saw God working in other students’ lives made him want to go deeper, too. With his relationship with God growing, he was ready to work on his relationship with his family.

Healing relationships

“My counselor Julie did an amazing job mediating between me and my parents,” says Fletcher. Even five years after his Shelterwood graduation, Fletcher says Julie still remembers everything like it was last week. “She remembers the specific struggles we were going through and what we did to overcome them,” he says. “She did play a huge role in transforming my relationship with my parents. She told me, ‘You were a stubborn kid, but your parents were on a different level of stubborn.’”

Julie helped Fletcher and his parents see the efforts they were all making to reconnect. “When my parents started putting in that effort, and they saw me putting in that effort, it really started to take off from there,” Fletcher remembers.

Fletcher’s relationship with his parents is now a good one. He looks forward to seeing them when he has time off from the military. “We get along great,” Fletcher says. “We actually have a relationship, and we wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for Shelterwood.”

Fletcher also emphasizes the impact his grandparents had on his teenaged turn-around. His mother’s parents always had high hopes for his education and future career; they encouraged him to go to an elite school and become a doctor, a lawyer or go into finance. “I knew how much they loved me, and I really did not want to let them down,” Fletcher says. He’s proud of making his grandparents proud with his current achievements and chose his next duty station so he’d be within driving distance of them.

A vision for the future

“Before Shelterwood, I had absolutely no vision for my future,” Fletcher says. “I thought, hopefully, I’ll graduate, then wing it from there.” At Shelterwood, he had time to think about what he wanted to do with his life. He didn’t quite know what it was yet, but he knew he needed to do something. At Shelterwood, he was able to re-engage with academics and establish habits that allowed him to be successful when he returned to his home high-school.

After Shelterwood, Fletcher worked as hard as he could to bring up his GPA, but the damage he did early in his high-school career seemed to limit his options at competitive colleges. He looked into ROTC programs and scored very highly on the military’s entrance exam (ASVAB). That’s when a Navy recruiter told him about the nuclear program. “Lucky for me, the Navy had a program targeting smart people who didn’t do well in high school,” Fletcher laughs.  

Advice for others

Looking back on how far he’s come since he was a bright, frustrated kid boycotting school work, Fletcher has perspective to share.

“Looking back on my time at Shelterwood, it was such a brief season in my life,” he says. “I know it feels like you’ve been here forever and probably never leave, but it’s really such a short time.”

Fletcher reminds current Shelterwood students that their time here can make a huge difference, depending on how they spend it. He tells them that they need to make the decision to change—it’s really up to them.

“This is a golden opportunity to have time to think about what you want to do, where you want to go in life, and how you’re going to get there,” Fletcher says. “You’ll never another opportunity like this one.”

Do you know a kid like Fletcher? One who has incredible potential but is struggling right now? Talk with our admissions office about how Shelterwood can help.