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Well, the school year is almost over, and this means so has my first year at Learning Prep School. After a career in independent education that has spanned over two decades, I have never felt so enthusiastic about a school, and it’s mission as I am about Learning Prep School. I have met so many kind students, staff, parents, and community members that have made my first year at LPS memorable! I enjoyed watching many proud parents walk into the LPS Cafeteria with their child for Senior Dinner last week! The Class of 2019 is now ready for the next chapter of their lives as LPS Alumni!
The LPS Panther came back to life and is now featured on most items in our online LPS School Store. It is so exciting to see students and staff walking through campus while wearing their LPS Panther gear taking pride in their school and mascot. To use the online store, click here.
After starting our LPS Social Media Program this past fall, our Instagram account called lpspanthers now has 415 followers! And our Facebook page called Learning Prep School has 180 followers, which helps us communicate with LPS families, Alumni, and potential students and their families. To understand the magic of Learning Prep School, you have to see it to believe it! Through social media, more and more people are now able to see it and believe it!
The LPS Alumni Association and the LPS Alumni Executive Council was formed this year and alumni are attending events in record numbers. It is so great to see former students reconnecting with their friends and community, and I have loved hearing many of their stories of days gone by. Last week a wonderful group of alumni gathered on campus for a meatball dinner and bingo night. There were alumni from the Class of 2018 all the way to the Class of 2002 and many others representing classes in between.
We look forward to seeing more LPS Alumni on Wednesday, July 10th @ 5:00 pm for our annual LPS Alumni BBQ.
Thank you to all our families and friends who have contributed to the LPS Family & Friends Fund this year! Our Annual Goal is $250,000, and we have raised $228,000 thus far, passing the 92% mark about a week ago. We only have $22,500 to raise by Sunday, June 30th. If you have not already done so this year, please consider a gift to support LPS, the mission and how we deliver it! Thank you very much for your consideration!
As the school year comes to a close, it is a time for reflection on the past school year and where we are headed for in the future. On May 31st, we will celebrate our senior class and their accomplishments both academic and personal. The evening, and weeks leading up to it, are filled with mixed emotions. Many students, families, and staff are thrilled to see our seniors take the next steps towards realizing their dreams beyond HS but there is also a sense of impending loss. Our staff spend approximately seven hours a day for one-hundred eighty days at school cultivating relationships with students, some of whom have been with us for many years. It is hard not to think of our community as an extended family which makes saying goodbye so hard.
While we recognize the sadness, we try to focus on the excitement and pride that moving on from LPS can bring. Some of the changes that we have seen in our students over the years can’t be measured by an IEP. They are getting together with a friend for the first time, sharing laughter when there used to be only tears, finding a voice, discovering a talent, accepting help, showing compassion, and being in a play. These are the elements of growth that we remember when we think of students. Our seniors will be off having new experiences and adventures which give rise to new opportunities for growth. They have gained confidence and skills that they can take with them and will hopefully look back on their time at LPS with fondness. Success has different meanings from different perspectives but happiness should always be part of that equation. For those moving on from LPS, we will certainly miss you, but we hope you see this ending as a new beginning.
Running the Boston Marathon is an adventure in every way. From the start of the training in the cold January months to the big day in April it is always a logistical feat to fit in the training runs around the chaos of school and home life. In the week/days leading up to the marathon you’d think there would be a sense of calm in that “there is nothing more you can do now” theory but our Boston Marathon always throws us a curve ball.
This year I spent the week prior to the marathon frequently refreshing the Weather Channel app on my phone and was willing to talk about the weather to just about anyone, as long as they were reporting a favorable forecast. The big day gave us a mixed bag of results; fear when I first woke up to pouring rain that in fact it could be as bad as last year, happiness as the morning cleared up, but then angst over the high humidity, sun and heat as I started to feel it on the course at mile 2. We just can’t win! Reflecting back I thought, "There's a lesson here": no matter how much one prepares (and I felt pretty prepared this year) life can always throw you a curve ball. We work hard at LPS to help those students who always seem to be thrown curve balls. While no one can anticipate every scenario, we try to prepare our students and give them the resources and strategies to keep going and finish the race. Running Boston is one of the hardest marathons because of terrain and the ever-variable conditions, yet people come from all around the world to compete and be able to say “I ran the Boston Marathon.” Every student at LPS runs their own educational marathon and should be so proud of their accomplishments. “A finish is a win!”
It is springtime at LPS and staff and students are looking forward to a much deserved April break. But April break is no vacation for our facilities department: Tom, Carlos, Patrice and Tim. This is the time to make necessary repairs such as filling the potholes in the parking lots and time to clean up the debris from the winter and spruce up the landscaping. They will also be busy deep cleaning the buildings, including washing and waxing the floors in the hallways and classrooms.
Springtime also means that the horticulture program has started planting outside and not just in the greenhouse. Please stop by to browse or to purchase a plant. Bella and Val, our horticulturists, have done an amazing job, and it is well worth a visit. There will be an open house dedication of the greenhouse on Friday, May 10th, and on Saturday, May 11th. More information will be available regarding time and events.
Springtime is also special at LPS since we are a short walk from the Boston Marathon. On Patriots’ Day, Monday, April 15th, we can cheer on the runners, especially Amy Davis and Denise Bynum who are raising money for LPS. You can still support our runners and LPS by making a donation at the following website: https://www.crowdrise.com/donate/project/learning-prep-school-boston-2019/learningprepschool
I hope our staff and students enjoy the April break and come back refreshed for the last push to the end of the school year!
There have been some questions regarding the differences between the traditional Legacy MCAS and the Next-Generation MCAS tests. The following information, from the DESE website, explains the differences in testing as well as scoring. In general, the new standards for 'Meeting Expectations' are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the 'Proficient' level on the legacy MCAS, and the computer-based format is new for our students. Because of these changes, we anticipate a difference in scores compared to previous years. Please know that all students have participated in tutorials and practice tests in preparation for this change.
How are the computer based next-generation MCAS tests different from traditional Legacy MCAS tests?
Good teaching is not just a matter of being efficient, developing competence, mastering technique, and possessing the right level of knowledge. Good teaching also involves emotional work. It is infused with pleasure, passion, creativity, challenge and joy. It is a passionate vocation! Substantive and timely professional development expands the competence and the confidence of teachers and, in doing, significantly enriches the teaching and learning dynamic at work in the school.
Once a school has responded to the questions that are posed when developing its mission, vision, values, and goals, it can help sustain its initiative to establish a professional learning community by asking salient questions such as the following:
Are we acting in accordance with our fundamental mission?
Have we clarified what we want all students to know and be able to do?
What is the most effective response for students who are not succeeding?
What are the discrepancies between actual conditions in our school and the school we strive to be?
What are our plans to reduce those discrepancies?
Are the proposals under consideration consistent with our vision and values?
What steps are we taking to advance vision and values in the day-to-day operation of the school?
What results do we seek, and what evidence are we gathering to assess our effectiveness?
Have we established systemic collaboration as the norm in our school?
Are there more effective ways to fulfill our mission, vision, and values?
At LPS, we are focused and engaged in reasoned dialogue and reflection to assure that we are who we purport to be as educational institution. In essence our reason for being is dedicated to providing our students with the core content knowledge, the essential skills, and the social emotional disposition to successfully navigate the challenges and the opportunities that life may present.
The 2019 Learning Prep School Boston Marathon Team Roster has been finalized, and our dedicated runners are ready to roll, but they cannot do it without you! Amy Davis returns to lead our team this year for the fifth consecutive year. Our popular EMS Principal brings energy and enthusiasm to everything she does. Amy has raised close to $60,000 for Learning Prep School's Family & Friends Fund during her first four marathons.
Sponsor Amy's run in the 2019 Boston Marathon and you are also supporting the LPS Family & Friends Fund. The F&FF supports the LPS operating budget that is stretched thin providing small classes, educational counseling, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language, Social Communication, and Thinking Maps™ to aid executive functioning, enrichment opportunities, and college and career readiness opportunities that prepare our seniors for life after LPS. As a non-profit organization, we depend on donors like you to help us close the gap between our budget and our operating expenses so we can continue to provide dynamic learning experiences for LPS students.
Last year Amy endured the most treacherous conditions in Boston Marathon history overcoming frigid temperatures, gusty winds, and freezing rain to the already grueling marathon course. We are so proud of Amy and all that she does for LPS!
CLICK HERE to support Amy in this year's race!
Recently a runner from Fort Worth, Texas named Denise Bynum was selected to join Amy Davis in representing LPS in the running of the 123rd Boston Marathon. Denise ran her first marathon in 2005, but not long after her first marathon, she tragically lost her husband, Mark, who died after complications from a severe accident. Denise knew that she wanted to raise her children on her own, and maintain the life that Mark had envisioned for them. Denise wanted her children to be proud of her and to inspire them to be their best. To overcome her grief and encourage her children, she returned to running marathons; this helped her stay focused on her goals and marathons became an essential part of her life.
Denise is an educational consultant by trade and helps teenagers in the Fort Worth, Texas area identify, select, and apply to colleges that fit their needs. Denise is excited to run for LPS because she identifies with our mission as both her cousin and nephew have autism. Though very different, they excel when they are in the right learning environment. Denise says, " I am honored to represent Learning Prep School in the 2019 Boston Marathon!”
We encourage everyone in the Learning Prep School Community to support Amy and our Marathon Team, at a level in which you feel comfortable, for their effort and sacrifice in running the 2019 Boston Marathon for our students! No gift is too large or too small. It is all about joining the team and helping our runners get across the finish line. Once again, to sponsor Amy, Denise and our team, go to our secure Crowdrisepage at https://www.crowdrise.com/…/learning-prep-school-boston-2019.
Dark, Cold, Snowy, icy….all are words that can be used to describe our New England winters. We go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. We get the winter messes like we did this weekend and wish we were in warmer weather. The snowblower doesn’t work and the stores are out of ice-melt because it was 50 degrees last week and no one was really thinking of snow. We battle the lines at the grocery store for the makings of french toast that we won’t be able to make if we lose power anyway! No wonder some us find ourselves down and less productive during these months!
Finding ways to fight the winter doldrums and embrace our crazy New England weather can be challenging at times but when we make the effort to change the way we feel about winter, we become happier and more productive in our jobs, relationships, in school etc. Here are some pointers to help:
Let the sunshine in! Any bit of sunshine can lift spirits. Open the shades and let it in.
Get moving (and outside). Exercise has been scientifically proven to improve your emotional well-being. Even 20 minutes a day can help. Getting outside in the fresh air can also do wonders for your mood. Bundle-up for a brisk walk and take a deep breath!
Get together with friends/ family. It is tempting to hunker down in your PJs and slippers when the sun and the thermometer goes down but spending time with others in or outside the home can boost your spirits. Plan a game night, go bowling, walk the local shopping mall together!
With a few changes, we can all successfully make it through another New England winter. Soon enough, the snow will melt, the flowers will bloom, and we will be complaining about how hot and humid it is. Remember as Mark Twain said…..”If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
Welcome back to LPS! I hope everyone had a safe and restful vacation. 2019 is here! It is always so funny to send the students off before December break with the “See you next year” phrase and watch them all do a double-take. It is kind of funny to think that a new year has begun especially when people who live in the academic world think about “a new year” starting in September. However, a common tradition for the start of the actual new year is to make a new year’s resolution.
“A New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.” (Wikipedia)
I was watching Jeopardy on New Year’s Eve and Alex Trebek mentioned that one of the contestants made it her New Year’s Resolution last year to be on Jeopardy and…VOILA here she was. I was struck thinking, "Wow, how does one just make something like that a resolution and then make it happen?" The contestant mentioned that she made it her mission and trained every way she could to gain the knowledge and skills (there is skill in that finger clicker) to make her dream come true. It made me stop and think, "Wouldn’t it be nice if everything were that simple?" I see our students work so hard every day (likely harder than that Jeopardy contestant) to gain the knowledge and the skills necessary to answer that history question, do that science experiment, write that paragraph, take a social risk, answer those math questions, make a friend, pass the MCAS, pass that driver test, get a job, and on and on. Additionally, I see LPS staff work so hard every day to ensure that we are educating your students for all aspects of life. There are not many easy VOILA moments in our students lives, but rather hard fought battles that make it all worth while.
We have many exciting things ahead for the next 6 months and are looking forward to continuing to help students grow and learn with the same commitment and intensity as that Jeopardy contestant, with the hopes that all of our students, can achieve their own "VOILA" moment.
The following explains who maaps is and the benefits that maaps can provide to faculty of 766 schools and parents of special education students:
“The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps) was founded in 1978 as a statewide association of approved private special education schools dedicated to providing educational programs and services to students with special needs.”
There are 81 member schools serving approximately 7000 students. “Membership in maaps signifies a commitment to excellence and ethical integrity. maaps is concerned that all children with special needs have access to appropriate, high quality educational experiences and treatment options which are necessary for their individual growth and development.”
Through their Professional Development Groups (including Education Directors and Principals, Chief Financial Officers and Business Managers, and Emerging Leaders), maaps provides timely and relevant workshops. Topics covered in their workshops have included Program Reconstruction, IT Disaster Recovery, Importance of IRS Form 990, Supporting Families through Separation and Divorce, MCAS and Accommodations, Occupational Therapy in the Classroom, Coaching for Excellence, Influencing Organizational Culture (Chaired by Ted Sharp), Special Education Law, and Employment Law. The speakers at the workshops are experts currently working in the field. The workshops help to keep leaders and employees at 766 schools engaged in important topics that affect all special education students. Learning Prep School has benefited significantly from these workshops.
In addition to providing training workshops, the maaps Action Network provides an easy to use online portal for Massachusetts residents to contact their legislators regarding budget or policy issues that affect 766 schools. Signing up is easy to do and can be done online at the maaps website. Once you sign up, you will receive emails from maaps inviting you to respond to your legislators. The communication will be directed at the appropriate legislators based on your legal residence. The Action Network has been instrumental in assuring that 766 schools receive the appropriate funding to provide service to special education students.
There is also a helpful section for parents. The “For Parents” section covers such topics as College Resources for Students with Disabilities, Tips on Finding a Good School, Common Abbreviations used in special education, and Evidence Based Practices.
I encourage you to visit the maaps website to better understand all that is offered by visiting their website at www.maaps.org.
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