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

Leadership Blog

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 03 Jun 2022 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    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

  • 01 Apr 2022 8:49 AM | Anonymous

    By: Gretchen Petersen, Chief Operating Officer

    Excellence in education and social development requires a diverse, inclusive community with a growth mindset featuring many voices and perspectives. Learning Prep strives to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone. At LPS, we recognize, respect, and celebrate all differences including differences in genders and gender identities.

    There is no medical or treatment threshold that individuals must meet in order to have their gender identity recognized and respected by all members of our community. All our students have different identities, learning styles, and needs. When it comes to gender identity, these needs can range from identity questioning to gender assertion. If students seek guidance from school, we must take into account many factors as we support them. We do our best to balance these differing needs, including the individual’s preference, the protection of privacy, the need for social integration, partnership with a student’s family, the removal of stigmas, and individual safety. In providing an environment that is free of discrimination for all people regardless of assigned sex, gender identity, or gender expression, we are following both our student-focused approach to education and the the Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity Law (G.L. c. 76, § 5,2).

    To increase the safety and support of our students on this topic, we have enacted two policy changes. We have designated single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms and created policies to follow for students changing their name or pronouns on internal documents (see links below). As you will see on those documents, students younger than 14 will need their parent/guardian/caregiver to be part of the requesting process. Students aged 14 and above can request a name change themselves without parent/guardian/caregiver permission.

    We recognize that this is a delicate and challenging topic. As a school, we want to provide the most support possible to our students and their families. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me, Amy Davis, or, especially, your counselor.

    We appreciate your continued support in creating a safe and inclusive environment for all of our LPS community members.

    Change in Student Name or Pronoun

    Preferred Name Change Form

  • 04 Mar 2022 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    By: Amy Davis, Principal

    Welcome back from the February vacation week. As we return to our regular schedule and turn the calendar to March, we are looking at two-thirds of the school year already complete, with the last third about to go racing by...CRAZY!  The break provided me a chance to step back, enjoy time with my family, get things done around the house but more importantly, it gave me a chance to reflect on my first half of the school year as principal of the whole school. 

    I have been at LPS for 23 years, and have worked in the Elementary/Middle School for all of those years.  This year was my first opportunity to expand my role and step into the high school world.  It has been wonderful to be able to catch up and see with my own eyes the growth in the students who started at LPS in the Elementary/Middle School.  So much learning on all fronts.  While LPS is a small school we occasionally hear about student successes as they move through the grades but there is something about being able to interact with them and experience how much they have matured and who they have grown up to be. 

    In my 23 years I have learned a lot about Learning Prep and what goes into making it successful.  I have learned about our student population and the best strategies to help them learn in the classroom and in the real world.  I think back to all that I did not know when I started in 1998. (SIDEBAR:  a student pointed out today “oh you started 5 years before I was born”...there is a moment of self reflection…).

    But, in this 24th year I am discovering that there is a lot I didn't know about our school.  It has been thrilling to expand my knowledge of what works best for our older learners, what they need to learn and how best to engage them as learners and young adults in this world.  My love for this school has grown in a whole new arena.  While many things have changed in my role over the years, one thing that has not changed (and never gets old) is receiving or being copied on emails like this:

    “I just wanted to let you know how fun and easy you made school for me. You made me excited to learn, you made the kid that didn’t like reading excited to view a whole new world through books.”

    This is just priceless.  I am excited and committed to our students, families and staff to continue to build a strong, creative, and supportive learning community.  

  • 04 Feb 2022 2:51 PM | Anonymous

    By: Korina Martin, Director of Admissions

    As the Director of Admissions, I talk to a lot of parents. Via email, phone and Zoom, many of my hours are spent listening to and talking with concerned mothers, inquisitive fathers, upset grandparents - all trying to understand why their child is struggling. As a parent, sometimes you just feel helpless. You don’t know what you don’t know, and while you may have all the right tools in place, most of the time, sometimes you can’t help but feel like you want to do more. 

    As parents, the place we have the most control is usually at home. The Learning Disabilities Association of America is a fantastic resource for families whose children learn differently. They share strategies that can be used at home for children with learning disabilities. They describe trying to find a balance - of providing some, but not too much support. What is that balance? The truth is, it’s likely changing all the time. With time, maturity and new skills being acquired regularly, it’s a moving target. But the LDA has some suggestions you can use to help find that balance: 

    1. Focus on the child’s strengths. Every child is unique; all can contribute to the joys of family life. Find special times and jobs that allow the child to contribute to the group.

    2. Set reasonable expectations. Try not to expect more than the child is capable of doing, but expect the best that he or she can produce, with and then without assistance. The child may need to be taught simple skills, and then complex tasks can be taught step by step, gradually reducing the support as the child makes progress.

    3. Maintain consistent discipline. Give clear, simple explanations, particularly if children have language challenges. They may not understand the vocabulary, lengthy instructions, and complex sentences used.

    4. Foster intellectual curiosity. Try to excite children about the learning process. Parents and teachers who enjoy learning themselves can convey such an attitude to their children. 

    5. Guide the child’s language comprehension. When helping children comprehend new vocabulary, remember that words are concepts, not simple associations. The same object can have more than one name (rug, carpet). Many children with learning disabilities have problems understanding words with multiple meanings, particularly those that change with the context. For example, children probably first learn the word “letter” when it refers to an envelope that is sent or received in the mail. Later, however, the word “letter” will refer to a part of the alphabet. 

    6. Help the child comprehend and remember longer units of language. Some children can comprehend single words or short phrases, but they have difficulty understanding the meaning of sentences and stories. When children have difficulty listening to stories, it is often helpful to speak slowly, to repeat phrases or sentences, and when necessary, use pictures to illustrate the meaning. When disciplining the child, make certain that directions are not too lengthy. Show the child what to do if he or she does not understand verbal instructions.

    7. Do not call attention to expressive language weaknesses. Language is first and foremost a form of communication. Parents and teachers should not interrupt a child’s flow of thought when he or she is communicating. It may be helpful to give a multiple choice question. Make the verbal interactions as pleasant and meaningful as possible. Listen to children. Make certain they have opportunities to contribute to family discussions.

    8. Consider the importance of nonverbal communication for social skills. Certain children with nonverbal learning disabilities have problems interpreting or using appropriate body language including facial expressions and gestures. Others have difficulty interpreting tone of voice. Play games in which you initiate various body movements, facial expressions and intonations.

    9. Teach simple time concepts. Many students with learning disabilities have problems understanding the language of time. During the early childhood years, words such as “early, later, today, tomorrow,” can be emphasized. Mark school days on a calendar with a special color, and perhaps keep simple weather journals illustrating sunny or rainy days with simple drawings of a sun or raindrops.

    10. Provide structure for children with attention problems. Some children with learning disabilities have problems focusing and maintaining attention. In these cases, we recommend structure and quiet, but firm discipline. The goal is not to punish, but to create an environment in which the children can succeed. For example, help them with organization by breaking down complex tasks and giving them an orderly sequence of activities.

  • 14 Jan 2022 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    By: Amy Plante, Assistant Principal

    Students and adults world-wide have gone through an ever-changing world of expectations socially and emotionally the last two years. Our society has been asked to recreate how we educate, communicate and socialize. Individuals have been expected to include structure and consistency in their life yet must remain flexible to the continuous requests being placed on them. This challenge has created the necessity for individuals to build a “tool box” of ways to remain resilient.

    The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five competencies of social/emotional learning:

    1. Self Awareness
    2. Self Management
    3. Social Awareness
    4. Relationship Skills
    5. Responsible Decision Making

    We are all lifelong collaborative learners. Here at LPS we have a vision of assisting all of our adults and students in creating a healthy and inclusive school that supports all learners. We know how difficult the lack of social interactions has been on our students. We realize recognizing self awareness and fostering relationship skills has been extremely cumbersome to do over Zoom and social media. Some media interactions have created even more misunderstandings for students. Now that schools have gone back to “in person” we have an opportunity to practice these skills with our students in real life situations. Integrating these competencies into our daily instruction helps our students to build connections with each other, their community and ultimately understand themselves better.

    At LPS our view on discipline is to use it as teachable moments. We explore how our students can be more self aware, build their relationships and make responsible decisions. We are changing the conversation, our students have a voice in how to support their own needs and add to their “ tool box.”

    We live in challenging times, but our students have continued social and emotional support not only from LPS but more importantly from their incredible parents/caregivers. In the last two years I have learned; we all need to take a breath once in a while, human connectedness is key to our growth and we are more resilient than we ever realized. Happy New Year!

  • 03 Dec 2021 12:32 PM | Anonymous

    By: Vanessa Craveiro, Chief Financial Officer

    Every group of kids has a leader and they’re usually easy to spot. They’re the kids that are always speaking up or helping in class. They’re the ones getting the other kids excited to jump in the mud. They set their goals, and they get others to help them achieve it. Many of these kids are natural born leaders, inherently charismatic and convincing, but luckily for the rest of us, leadership can be taught.

    If you google leadership skills, here are the top examples:

    • Accountability
    • Resilience
    • Reliability
    • Integrity
    • Problem Solving
    • Positivity
    • Honesty
    • Communication
    • Team building
    • Hard Working
    • Listening
    • Persuasive

    There are many ways we can teach these skills at home or at school. One way is by having kids work in a team towards a common goal. You can assign a leader for the team or for a component of the team. One can lead the exercise, another can lead the reporting, someone else can speak for the group. They would have to help their team identify the goal and delegate the tasks. They would need to communicate effectively, work together, and make decisions in order to reach the goal.

    Another way is by teaching kids how to set goals. You can set goals for the classroom as a whole or work with kids to set their own goals. These goals can be placed somewhere that’s easily visible and monitored regularly for progress of milestones.

    A great way to teach kids how to show accountability is by modeled behavior. When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. Don’t make excuses, don’t shift the blame, instead take responsibility for your actions and apologize. Encourage kids to do the same and own up to their mistakes. Acknowledge the mistake and move on.

    Problem Solving is another lifelong skill that helps students throughout their time in school and later in their careers. Students can be given a list of problems in their community and work together to brainstorm solutions. Then the group leaders can present their idea to the class. They could also have a day of service, where they volunteer at a food bank and learn how they can impact change.

    Listening and communication skills are sometimes the most challenging to master, probably more for adults. A great way to learn both is through debates. They start in the earlier grades by debating trivial things like which ice cream is the best or who is the best Disney princess (in my house Elsa wins). Presenting to the class is a great way to practice public speaking and how to deliver a clear and concise message.

    Books and movies are a great place to discuss honesty. Pick a well-known character and discuss their life, decisions, consequences, what they could have done differently and what we can learn from it.

    In my opinion the most important skills are perseverance and hard work. Sports can be an excellent way to teach determination and the idea of never giving up when faced with adversity. Just watch any sports movie and you’re sure to see an inspirational coach speech. Competition is a great way to set goals, practice resilience, teach encouragement and how to accept a loss gracefully.

    Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, or should I say styles. Some are born with it, while others slowly practice and develop these skills. They can be the outgoing charismatic leader or the quiet introvert in the back of the classroom. It's our job to help them develop these skills.

  • 05 Nov 2021 12:14 PM | Anonymous

    By: Susan Smith Powers, Dean of Students & Student Support

    One of the hallmarks of our program is our commitment to our community core values which include respect, honesty, courage, compassion and responsibility. All members of our school community are expected to demonstrate responsible behavior consistent with these core values. We believe that these core values are fundamental to a supportive, safe and orderly school environment. Many of our students, especially our younger ones, are still learning about our core values and how they apply to everyday life.

    One of the ways we teach and reinforce our core values is by “catching kids being good”, which reinforces positive behavior. With my background in child development and clinical counseling and almost three decades working with adolescents, I’ve learned that the best way to increase positive behavior is through positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement focuses on what the student is doing right rather than on what the student is doing wrong. This increases the likelihood of the favored behavior being repeated. Positive reinforcement helps motivate students to do better in the future. They also understand that their good behavior results in positive consequences such as rewards or even mere positive praise. This teaches them the value of personal responsibility, self-discipline as well as pride for their accomplishments.

    So how do these “Good Citizen Slips'' (GCS) work? Although students make mistakes, most of the time they are doing great things. They are taking learning risks, helping others, showing good effort, being respectful, taking responsibility for their actions as well as improving their skills. Teachers who observe these great behaviors let them know they earned a GCS and why. An example could be that Sally, who has a very difficult time walking in the halls may need reminders to “please walk” but any time I see Sally walking I let her know by saying, “great job walking in the halls (responsibility), that’s a GCS”. Or Bobby who is usually quiet in class takes a learning risk by volunteering to read (courage). Students then put their slip in the GCS box (one is in the HS and one in the MS) for the next Good Citizen Slip assembly. Students can win prizes or a $5 gift card if their name gets drawn. The more slips they have submitted, the better their chance of winning. The goal for our staff should be to give out as many slips as they can every day. Catching our students being good is a fun (and effective) way to teach our students about our core values as well as reinforce their positive behavior.

  • 01 Oct 2021 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    By: Cate Wilson, Human Resources Manager

    I get to say this a lot lately. A significant number of teachers and administrators are changing jobs or switching careers in 2021, creating many opportunities - particularly at independent schools. It’s not hard to get people excited about the work we do. LPS has a rich faculty culture of talented, kind professionals genuinely committed to helping kids grow and succeed. When I’m recruiting for our open positions, I’m not just looking for credentials on a resume, I want folks that are philosophically aligned with our mission of providing a comprehensive, supportive education for our students. My goal is to attract people to our school who bring experience, expertise, and enthusiasm, because each new hire is a chance to further enrich our truly wonderful culture.

    I keep our core values at the center of the conversation when I speak about Learning Prep. This is a place of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Courage, and Compassion. We’re committed to prizing what makes kids special, supporting them through challenges, and helping them set goals that are both aspirational and achievable. I want folks to know they’ll be held accountable to these values at LPS, but they will also find so much support and encouragement here. When people tell me why they love it here, it’s because of our community. We care about each other in an authentic way. We pitch in when someone is struggling. We laugh through the wacky, stressful moments. We cheer each other on and we grow together.

    So what do I love about working at Learning Prep? I love that sometimes teachers play their guitar in class or teach math by taking their students on a jog. I love the Lego city that’s taking over our makerspace. I love walking past room after room of students looking proud and engaged rather than bored or discouraged. I love hearing that LPS is the first place where a kid has made real friends. I love that some of us have been here for decades! And I love saying with confidence that Learning Prep is a unique school full of brave, gifted, caring educators who absolutely make a difference in the lives of their students.

  • 07 Jun 2021 8:09 AM | Anonymous

    By: Gretchen Petersen, Chief Operating Officer

    Typically, kids thrive in an environment that is predictable and consistent, opposite of how this school year has gone and the future months will be. How do we help them adapt, survive, and accept that change is part of life, something that there will be more or less of at different times? Helping them focus on consistencies in life and finding things that they DO have control over, are good places to start.

    Consistencies can come in many different forms. From people to places to processes, there are consistencies everywhere. Identifying reliable people to reach out to when they’re feeling overwhelmed could help them feel supported. Choosing places they can go to in their time of need or just to relax could help them feel secure. Having a schedule, even on the weekends and summertime, could help them feel grounded. Even having a mental picture, or talking, drawing, or journaling about these stabilities could benefit kids in an unpredictable world. Because, let’s face it, consistency is a relative term as those things that are consistent are still apt to change, sometimes.

    A sense of control in times of change is incredibly important. Giving options to kids can help them have some influence over parts of their lives, even if they are small choices. For example, asking a child to clean up their room either now or in a half hour is a choice they can make and feel like they have a voice. Allowing them to be part of a family decision can add to their self esteem and make the process of a change seem less anxiety provoking. Pointing out different activities they participate in and behaviors they exhibit that are under their control can help them realize how much power they possess each day.

    Consistency and control contribute to a sense of well-being, especially in times of ambiguity. Keeping communication open with children, helping them identify stabilities and allowing them to have input in decisions can only aid in their ability to manage change in times of uncertainty.

  • 07 May 2021 9:57 AM | Anonymous

    By: Amy Davis, Middle School Principal

    Many, many years ago, I think it was either my second or third year at LPS, I was one of two people in charge of planning a whole middle school field trip to George’s Island. Marla and I were so excited to take the students on such a big trip and could not wait to see all the hands on experiential learning that this trip could provide our students and the smiles. We had to convince the administration to allow us to take all these students on such a big trip that involved multiple forms of transportation. In the end our persuasive skills prevailed. Marla and I were like “We’ve got this,” “It won’t be a problem.” Once we all arrived on the island we split up into two guided tours, one led by me, one led by Marla. The students were safe, engaged, listening and having fun - things were going so well! And then I had my moment of panic. Our guide stopped our group and explained that we needed to walk through a pitch black tunnel. They instructed all the students to line up against the wall and put their hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. “You won’t be able to see anything but will be guided by holding the shoulder of the person in front of you.”

    ...“WAIT, WHAT??????

    ...Silent panic

    ...A student will for sure freak out in the tunnel

    ...I quickly pulled out my walkie talkie (yes, pre-cell phone) and tried to reach Marla to problem solve our way out of what was surely going to be a nightmare and we for sure would never be able to go on another field trip EVER again.

    ...Why is she not responding to me?

    ---and before I knew it I think I heard the guide say to me “you will bring up the rear” and then off he led the group.

    ...more panicked walkie talkie attempts but this ship had sailed and I better get on it.

    What was so amazing, fantastic and thrilling is that WE DID IT! Both groups!

    If you had told us before the trip, “All your students will blindly have to walk through a pitch black tunnel and trust the person in front of them to guide them” we would have said, “Nope, we need to think about a work around.” We are so glad we did not know because we all learned something new that day... and clearly we didn’t need the work around.

    Fast forward to educating through this pandemic. If you had told me before all this started that our students would need to be wearing masking in school all day, hand sanitizing at every turn, would need to social distance at all times, would have to learn to manage technology in all new ways and would be required to be independent in so many more aspects of of their social, emotional and academic learning I would have similarly thought, “No way, we will need a work around.”

    It feels great to succeed and even more amazing, fantastic and thrilling that WE DID IT! This year learning has come in so many forms and I am so proud of how hard everyone has worked. Turns out, our students are way more resilient than we give them credit for and when given the opportunity they rise to the challenge.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

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

Log in

© 2019 Learning Prep School. All Rights Reserved.