From 5th through 12th grade
By: Kurt Moellering, Head of School
When a new student walks into a classroom at Learning Prep School for the first time, they enter a safe learning environment with classmates who learn like they do and teachers who tailor instruction to meet their learning style. We meet our students where they are and bring them along as they – at their own pace – acquire new skills, rediscover their self confidence, and begin to take control of their education. It is incredible to watch our students become more independent over time.
I find students who are forced to change schools because of the presence of a learning disability completely impressive. In spite of – or maybe even because of – their lack of previous success in more traditional schools, they demonstrate remarkable resilience. Make no mistake, their struggles are often heartbreaking to hear about and often have impacted the entire family. But the wisdom they display through this challenge is immense. That wisdom is seen in how they value education and understand their own learning styles. LPS students have this rare wisdom and beyond-their-years wisdom. Our students take nothing for granted because nothing has been achieved without tremendous hard work and sacrifice
Our senior class graduates later today, and I have been thinking a lot about this group of students. Some of these young adults have been at LPS for 2 years, some for 10. They all came to this school at a different place on their academic journey with differing needs. But they all are graduating with this hard-earned wisdom on display. As they make the transition from high school, they have all begun to realize the necessity of self-determination and self-advocacy. If LPS had to choose only one skill to teach, it would be this. Our students graduate with the wisdom of knowing they must take control of their future, and they must advocate for their needs.
We see this transformation from dependence to independence in so many of our students, current and former. For example, senior Eric Stoller notes that when he began his Experiential Learning Program this year “one of [his] most important struggles was engaging with [his] bosses and peers at work comfortably.” He realizes that although he “was never shy in front of people, advocating and asking appropriate questions appeared challenging at first.” However, through his senior year, Eric learned he “could confidently advocate for myself when needed whenever something at work seemed wrong.” Because of this growth, as he looks forward to his future, he realizes the knowledge he has gained. Eric shared with me that “any time change occurs for anyone, the beginning is typically challenging. The thought of how we will adapt and settle in can be nerve-wracking, but with a positive attitude and prepping from the past, the flow of it can be easier.” That is a wisdom that we could all benefit from as we confront uncertain futures in our own lives.
Similarly, when alumni Josh Goldstein returned to LPS this spring to talk to the juniors and seniors, he described how his self-advocacy in college helped propel him through. He noticed that help was always around . . . “if you ask for it.” He reminded our students to make positive relationships with teachers and to know and to demand their accommodations. When he noticed in college that he had to “work harder than other students,” he realized that this was not a negative because it forced him to believe in his own abilities and become even more self-reliant.
This is the time of year of transitions for many students, whether this is from one grade to the next, from one building to the other, or from high school to college or to work. As we witness our students moving on, we can’t help but reflect on their growth. More than reading or math skills, organizational or writing abilities, we are most impressed by our students’ maturity and the wisdom they develop over time to become more reliant on their own strengths and abilities to advocate for their needs and take charge of their futures.
No matter where you find yourself on your own journeys, I wish you and your students a wonderful, safe, and relaxing summer.