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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Dyslexia

I was born dyslexic and I will always be dyslexic.  By the end of first grade, I was well aware of the fact that I was unable to read as well as my peers.  I didn't know why this was the case, but as a result, I developed feelings of inferiority that have haunted me for years.  

My life in school started out as mediocre and remained as such throughout my K-12 years and beyond.  I'll never forget meeting with my high school counselor and being told that I shouldn't bother taking the SAT because (as he put it), “it would be best if I would focus my attention on learning a trade that doesn't require college.”  Fortunately, my mother was there to build me back up saying, "everything will be OK, some people just need a little more time to realize their potential."  She helped me believe that someday I would make it to college.

School was a chore, but on the bright side, I excelled in sports.  They were my outlet and without them I truly would have been lost.  Because of sports, I always worked (and sometimes cheated) hard enough to maintain the "C" grade point average required for eligibility.

My biggest obstacle as a high school student was my attitude and lack of motivation.  I was angry and rebellious, always finding ways to rationalize my mediocre school performance on poor teaching.   I spent so much time in the Dean of Students office that in hindsight, I'm surprised I wasn't charged rent!  Over time, he became a mentor and friend. 

By 12th grade, I had three very significant advocates, my mother, my grandmother and my Dean.  All three, in their own way provided exactly what I needed at important stages in my life.  Their unconditional acceptance combined with a sincere belief in me are what got me through high school and into a local community college.

I spent my first two years in college on academic probation.  Not because the work was too hard, but because the work simply wasn't a priority.  By the end of my sophomore year, I managed to squeak out a 2.0 grade point average, just enough to transfer to the local state university.

In my junior year, my former high school Dean introduced me to a professor at the college I was attending.  This introduction turned out to be the single most important gift I had ever received.

Dr. Colwell, known as Maurice to his friends, was the most brilliant, charismatic, insightful and funny individual I had ever met.  We became close friends, discussing philosophy, education, mental illness, golf, baseball, movies, books and relationships.  Our friendship turned out to be more of a dialogue, a dialogue that lasted over 20 years (until Maurice passed away).  

While having lunch together during my senior year of college, Maurice brought up graduate school and the next thing I knew, I was enrolled in a master's program. Immediately after completing the program, I was offered a teaching position.  I accepted the position as an adjunct professor and continued teaching in the Department of Social & Philosophical Foundations of Education for over 30 years.  In looking back at my school experience, I'm often amazed that I went from academic probation to master's degree and college teaching in a span of five years.

My reason for sharing all this is because as Head of Assets School, I know there are parents dealing with the same anxieties my parents faced.  I know that we have students here at Assets who will make many of the same mistakes I made along the way, and I know that all of our students are bright, capable individuals deserving of the same level of unconditional support I had as a young person.

I will be "blogging" from time to time with the hope of discussing various issues relating to parenting, education and more, with the hope of striking a chord with others in a way that will allow for optimism, provide assurance and hopefully lend some practical guidance. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

K-6 Open House

This Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013, is Back to School Night for the K-6 parents at Assets.  Back to School Night is an opportunity for you to learn about your child's program directly from the teachers.  During the course of the evening, expect to hear about the daily routine for the students, teacher expectations, homework policy and special projects planned for the school year.

Teachers will not be discussing individual students, as the evening has been set aside for a more general overview of the program and to give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of your child at school.

If you would like to spend one-on-one time with your child's teachers, please schedule a time to do so by contacting them via email and letting them know that you'd like to meet. You may expect to hear back from your child's teachers within 24 hours.

While here for Back to School Night, try to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your child's classroom environment.  Is there a daily schedule posted?  Are there classroom behavioral expectations displayed?  You might want to jot down a short note for your child and leave it in his/her desk.  Most importantly, listen and try not to judge.

Our teachers are an amazing group of individuals working diligently to accommodate the unique characteristics and learning styles of our students.  Their jobs are very challenging, yet also very rewarding.  I enjoy walking into classrooms and seeing the magic.  I hope you will get a taste of it during Back to School Night.