The potential of students with learning differences is limited if their educational environment isn’t supportive. Their futures look at the least uncertain and maybe even discouraging. In the article below, a Fairhill parent describes the positive changes she saw in her high-potential son once he got the support he needed.
Folk wisdom holds that, “in choosing the beginning of a road, we also choose its destination.” Our family took great care in choosing Fairhill School for Jack. He attended from ninth grade through his recent high school graduation.
Despite being a new student to Fairhill at the high school level, he slowly developed close friendships. He was always treated respectfully by students and teachers. Though middle school is a difficult transition time for many students, it was particularly painful for Jack. It was a welcome change that in times of difficulty – homework not getting turned in, a lack of organization or participation, or a bad test score – Fairhill teachers worked with Jack and our family.
Jack’s confidence and maturity progressed greatly. Athletic participation, with encouraging coaches such as Coaches Bruno, Wiemann, and Brown, played a big part in this. He lettered in a sport each year, playing baseball, golf, and football.
The drama department, led by Deni Kingston and Kim Mlcak, welcomed and celebrated him. He loved working the lights and being part of the behind the scenes crew. He became quite a professional at light direction under their able mentorship. The camaraderie of athletics and drama was instrumental in his social progress and enjoyment of school.
As a parent, it was always nice and comfortable to be around welcoming, genuine moms and dads. We always felt some kinship and relief when walking through the door, never judgment. Despite his learning differences – fairly severe Attention Deficit Disorder and dysgraphia, as well as mild dyslexia – Jack generally performs extremely well on standardized tests. He is a voracious reader, especially military memoirs and history. He comprehends and recalls almost all of what he reads. He has always been bright and quick, though he needed a lot of encouragement to turn things in on time and follow through. This made the long journey through school exciting and frustrating for his teachers and parents.
He did very well on the ACT, particularly the verbal section. He prepped by taking the Fairhill course “College and Career Readiness,” but took no outside prep course, because we all chose not to place too much pressure on this one test. By his junior year, he was getting excellent grades. He took an ambitious schedule senior year, and through the struggles he and his teachers persevered.
He wrote a beautiful essay, which his wonderful Honors English teacher, Ms. Allen helped him polish, about his Boy Scout experiences. Jack achieved Eagle Scout rank during his senior year.
Combining these elements resulted in his admission to Hendrix College, a small liberal arts “college that changes lives” in Conway, Arkansas. His achievements resulted in Academic and Odyssey Distinction Scholarships totaling $60,000 to this prestigious school. He plans on majoring in Psychology (a course he took senior year at Fairhill School and loved), though he is also interested in Theatre and medicine.
The journey was arduous, and the destination was definitely worth it. We can’t wait to see how Jack turns his progress and education at The Fairhill School into a promising college career, and beyond.
Contibuted by a Fairhill parent