A school delivering a language-based program for students grades 5-12 with complex profiles.


  • 09 Nov 2018 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    A few weeks ago, Heather Carey was driving her son home from a soccer game. He was frustrated. His teammate never passed the ball.

    “Why not talk to him about it?” Carey asked.

    “I can’t. I don’t want him to think that I’m bullying him,” he replied.

    She was shocked.

    “I said, ‘That’s not bullying — bullying is when you have control and power over someone and purposefully demean and put them down,’ ” she recalls.

    He wasn’t convinced.

    Bullying has become an appropriately high-profile issue: It is devastating and corrosive. Massachusetts now requires public schools to maintain an anti-bullying and intervention plan, the result of a 2010 law in the wake of two suicides by students who were reportedly bullied.

    Bullying.gov defines the behavior as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

    This justifiably heightened awareness about bullying has an ambiguous edge, though: Not every childhood hurt fits the definition. Carey understood the difference and was able to explain it to her son. But it’s easy for children — and in turn, well-meaning parents — to become needlessly alarmed, educators say.

    Not invited to a birthday party? Ignored by a best pal at recess? Sometimes it’s a normal, age-old bump in the road. And it’s essential to understand the difference, says Michael Thompson, supervising psychologist at the Belmont Hill School and the author of books including “Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children.”

    “Anti-bullying programs have made schools much safer. I totally approve of them,” says Thompson. “But parents defining every little hurtful act or every act of social cruelty as bullying devalues the word and confuses children.”

    It can also strip children of their innate resilience, he says.

    Recently, Thompson encountered a mother of a 6-year-old who was upset because her daughter’s feelings were hurt. Another child had called her an idiot on the playground. Thompson gently explained that while nobody likes to be called an idiot, it’s not bullying.

    Thompson also recalls another parent of two fifth-grade twin boys.

    ‘Parents defining every little hurtful act or every act of social cruelty as bullying devalues the word and confuses children.’

    “Her sons would come home from school and tell her all the mean things kids had done to each other and to them. So she would pay attention, go into the school, and tell the children what they’d done wrong. She was destroying her sons’ social life, because her presumption was that her boys can’t defend themselves,” he says.

    He stopped another father from writing a legal brief to a school after his fourth-grade daughter complained about a fickle friendship with another girl. Dad considered it bullying; in reality, it was the natural course of on-again, off-again fourth-grade relationships.

    Seth Kleinman, a social worker for the Danvers public schools, says that as bullying has come into focus, today’s parents are more aware and able to support their children in positive ways.

    But in other circumstances, “The pendulum has swung a little far. When you’re hyperaware, you develop worry about bullying happening, when in fact it’s just a conflict or there may not be bullying at all. I see both,” he says.

    Where does this compulsion to intervene come from? Thompson says the issue is that parents don’t want to feel helpless, and at the same time, human beings are hardwired to report more bad news than good. Your child might be more prone to complain about the kid who didn’t sit with them at lunch and gloss over the one who passed the ball at recess.

    In recent years, schools have implemented social-emotional learning programs to impart coping skills. These programs aren’t merely a response to bullying; they also address a heightened climate of anxiety and scholastic pressure. But such programs also aim to differentiate between bullying and ordinary childhood tussles, helping children to discern when to solve a problem independently and when to confide in a trusted adult.

    These programs help children “recognize and manage their emotions and solve everyday problems,” says Jim Vetter, executive director of the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for Massachusetts.

    Social-emotional learning generally comprises five core competencies: self-awareness, which is recognizing one’s own emotions; self-management, which is the ability to regulate emotions; social awareness, encompassing perspective and empathy; relationship skills, which incorporate listening and cooperation; and responsible decision-making, which is making constructive, ethical choices.

    In practice, this means that today’s kids are more attuned to a child getting left out during a game and will problem-solve together to include him. Meanwhile, an excluded child who feels his chest tighten and his heart race might count backward from 10 and identify a friend to start a new game rather than having a meltdown, Vetter says.

    Respected programs include the Pear Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience at McLean Hospital and the Training and Access Project (TAP) at Boston Children’s Hospital. More than 300 schools nationwide use the Open Circle learning program, based at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. Right now, the curriculum is tailored to kindergarten through fifth grade, but this year, due to demand, they’re working on expanding it to middle school.

    Classroom teachers implement the curriculum during twice-weekly meetings; kindergartners are taught calm breathing techniques; second-graders do the “wave,” just like at a baseball game, to visualize what cooperation looks like; fourth-graders write down examples of negative self-talk on strips of paper and turn them into positive statements instead.

    It works. Research, notably a 2011 landmark study in Child Development, found that communities that use high-quality social and emotional learning programs and practices experience decreased aggression, fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.

    Lately, the onus has been put on schools to teach these behaviors — behaviors that, in prior generations, may have been left to evolve on the playground, for better or worse. In a modern environment of structured extracurricular activities, some of that rough-and-tumble has evaporated.

    “Some natural opportunities have been lost along with the organic nature of play,” says Meagan Burke, a social worker at Arlington’s Dallin Elementary School, which has implemented a proactive social-emotional learning program. Dallin maintains a set of community expectations based on “courage, respect, and responsibility” throughout the school; at recess, students are asked to find ways to include others; at morning arrival, they’re reminded to say hello to other students with a smile.

    This structure may seem foreign to today’s parents — children of the 1980s and 1990s, when childhood angst was fodder for John Hughes movies. But the role of schools has changed since then.

    “We find ourselves in a position where we’re asked to field conflict here. Schools have become a place where people seek refuge, resources, and respite, where we haven’t been in the past,” says Dallin principal Thad Dingman.

    And as schools seek to impart these skills for students, they also find themselves soothing parents. Jenny Loop, an Arlington social worker who teaches social-emotional learning, fielded several e-mails from concerned parents after implementing one such curriculum last year.

    “I sat there saying, ‘This is a victory. Kids are hearing the information I’m teaching, making the connection, and reporting it at home. But now the parent has to do work: Is [behavior] one-sided? Is it over and over again? It’s something that I wasn’t prepared for. ‘Bullying’ is a very strong word. There’s a lot of emotion associated with it. So let’s take a deep breath: ‘I’m happy to meet with you, I don’t want to minimize it, but let’s look at these questions and dive in. Is it a conflict, is someone being unkind, or it is actual bullying?’ ”

    Today’s parents — some of whom might still nurse their own childhood scars (I’m raising my hand here) — are deeply attuned to their own children’s problems, Thompson says. This is natural. But if we jump in preemptively to solve them, we could also strip our children of crucial developmental milestones.

    “It seems wrong not to be in touch with every one of a child’s hurts, and it’s admirable. It’s really admirable and misguided. Because if you know about every one of your child’s hurts, you will want to go to war on behalf of your child — and what most normal children do is stop telling their parents about them,” Thompson says. “Treat your own sense of helplessness, and focus on your child’s resilience.”

    Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com

  • 06 Nov 2018 12:46 PM | Anonymous

    We are excited to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Operational Services Division (OSD) of the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance have granted formal approval to our LPS Reconstruction Plan. This is evidence of the significant work and dedication by the staff and administration of the school, enabling us to substantively advance the mission and the educational program of Learning Prep School.

    State approval of our Reconstruction Plan also includes establishing the tuition rate at $54,848, effective November 1, 2018.

  • 23 Oct 2018 12:44 PM | Anonymous

    Newton Free Library has graciously offered to allow LPS students and staff to acquire local library cards to expand our students’ access to free library material. Due to differences in public funding, not all public libraries are created equal, and Newton has one of the best funded libraries in the state. While Newton Free Library cards may be used to access physical books, we see the main benefit to our students as being able to access the wealth of digital resources the the Newton Free Library has to offer!

  • 23 Oct 2018 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    We just launched our online School Store where families can now buy a variety of items to show their love and support for LPS! 

    Check out the store here

  • 25 Sep 2018 12:36 PM | Anonymous

    On Monday, September 24th, 18 elementary students walked downtown with chaperones to the West Newton Courthouse to hang their artwork in the courthouse for a month-long exhibit to kick off Cultural Appreciation Day. After hanging their artwork, students received a tour, had snacks, and met with the judge for an extensive question and answer session.

  • 11 Sep 2018 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    We have recently relaunched our Facebook page! "Like" us here to stay up to date on school happenings and events!

  • 28 Aug 2018 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    Our breakfast and lunch program has had some exciting changes! Students will no longer be charged for breakfast and/or lunch. The business office is working on refunding families with positive balances. We will have snack bar sales for families that choose to take advantage of that program. We also are excited to collaborate with the greenhouse program!

    Breakfast will be available as a Grab and Go service. EMS students who elect to have breakfast will notify their homeroom teacher. High School students will notify their first period teacher. Any student tardy past 8:15 will need to give Clara or Dawn their order.

    Students can get lunch any day they would like. They simply need to go in the lunch line and choose components of the lunch they would like to eat/try. As always, we will be promoting healthy eating and making smart choices.

    Some students have food allergies, food sensitivities and restrictions. Our alternative lunches are listed on our menu.

    Our Food Services Director, Lindsay, is certified in Allergen Awareness. Our food service staff is certified in food safety. Available for review, will be a binder with food ingredients and nutrition labels for quick access.

    Food Service Snack Bar Policy 2018-2019: All students will have an opportunity to buy snack bar items daily, in addition to being offered a breakfast and lunch. All proceeds will go towards student activities for the LPS community. Snack bar sales will be cash only. No exceptions.

    E/MS snacks will include items such as:

    • Water bottles
    • Bags of chips/snacks/cookies
    • All items will cost $1.00 each

    High School snacks will include items such as:

    • Water bottles/sparkling water
    • Bags of chips/snacks/cookies
    • Student-made cookies/muffins/baked goods
    • Second helpings (i.e. pizza, macaroni and cheese, turkey wraps, salads)

    All items will cost either $1.00 or $2.00 based on size/item

    All items are subject to change.

    We look forward to serving our students and working with families to create a healthy and enjoyable dining experience!

  • 26 Jun 2018 8:07 AM | Anonymous

    Congrats to 3 of LPS' 2018 Seniors Josh Murphy, Kaitlyn Gilman, and Tim Raphael who were winners in the Yearbook category of the Best of the Massachusetts High School Press 2017-2018. Congrats!

    Check out their winning designs here:

    Design of the Year: Yearbook Cover

    Design of the Year: Yearbook Spread

  • 20 Jun 2018 12:29 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to Theresa Hopp, Cheryl Baggen, Bob Owens, and Katie Cerrone who were recognized at the 9th Annual Newton SEPAC Special Educator Awards!

    Nominees were invited to a event to connect with families and peers and to be celebrated for doing exceptional work with students receiving special education services. Newton's mayor, superintendent, asst. superintendent, and school committee members were in attendance (about 250+ guests). We are honored that LPS family members recognized the talents of these wonderful staff members!

  • 07 Jun 2018 7:51 AM | Anonymous

    Please join us in congratulating our very own Meredith Sullivan who will be taking on the role of High School Counseling Supervisor permanently, as of July 1st. Meredith began her work at LPS twelve years ago and has been a positive contributor to our school ever since. In addition to providing counseling services, she has held a part-time Dean of students position, as well as a Student Council advisor.

    Prior to coming to LPS, Meredith worked in specialized foster care as a supervisor and director. She provided clinical supervision of staff as well as the managerial aspects of the agency.

    Meredith's supervisory skills, clinical experience, professionalism, and dedication to the LPS community will be a great addition to our administrative team.

    Congratulations, Meredith!

Learning Prep School | 1507 Washington Street | West Newton, MA 02465  | (617) 965-0764

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