Attending Rectory School has been a life-changing experience for our daughter Addisyn and as a result, our whole family. Her education has been an incredibly positive and growth-stimulating experience. Instead of needing to conform to a specific set of universal standards, she has been encouraged, supported, and nourished through a creative, optimistic, challenging atmosphere to meet her own potential. Through that mindset, she has surpassed the limitations she viewed as constraints to obtaining grade-level success. Rectory maintains small classes, where students are engaged, celebrated, and truly known for who they are. Their strengths and weaknesses are followed by their teachers and used to maximize potential in each academic subject. Every teacher has made themselves available to us as parents, and to our daughter, teaching her that advocating for herself falls on receptive willing ears. She is a student that receives support from Rectory's Individualized Instruction Program (IIP) and was perfectly matched with a Learning Specialist who has extensive knowledge about Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. Her Learning Specialist has training and certification in the most researched, evidence-based method of instruction: Orton Gillingham. I think the most important and beneficial aspect of IIP at Rectory is that although there are general goals that guide her instruction, there is a sense of flexibility. If she finds herself struggling with a specific topic within a subject, she can benefit from individualized instruction from her Learning Specialist throughout her academic day. Her Dyslexia is a different way of learning, understanding, and interpreting. It is not just a learning disability that affects reading and writing. It impacts every subject, and to have teachers and tutors that understand that she needs support throughout her curriculum is invaluable. All her teachers are aware of her needs and work with her Learning Specialist as a team to best engage her and challenge her appropriately. There are many assets that a dyslexic student brings to academics, including a strong work ethic and creativity. Students at Rectory are encouraged to explore projects and infuse their own culture, strengths, and abilities into their work. Allowing her to illuminate her own path has opened up the potential that was previously hidden by set standards and universal goals. My daughter always felt isolated and ashamed to be constantly pulled from the traditional classroom, flagging her as a student who couldn’t keep up.
At Rectory, all students' needs are addressed, some are ahead, some are behind, some are working on special projects in their area of interest. So, it is normal and expected to see peers coming and going, and placed in different classes based on many factors. She no longer feels like the student who is behind everyone else. She has had her eyes opened to the fact that everyone learns differently, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Lifting that burden has freed her to explore her own interests in science, creative writing, art, and reading. Her self-esteem has been healed and she knows that not only can she meet any goal she sets for herself, but she knows what she needs to do to get there, and the strategies to succeed. She had incredible accomplishments last year, the first being that a story she wrote was selected and published in RECstory (the annual compilation of artwork, poetry and short stories). Another accomplishment was that she received the Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Lewis Prize for Greatest Gains in Language skills. This recognition validated her hard work and improvements in this area of struggle.
Rectory also provides students with an advisor. This is key in teaching a student like Addisyn organization techniques. This may seem like a small piece of a larger puzzle, but a student that can’t keep track of their books, doesn't have a system to organize homework, and isn't able to break down expectations will not be able to succeed in school or their future career. She needed a lot of support in organizing her day, organizing her belongings and locker, and how to break down a project to initiate the first steps. These techniques and skills are taught on a one-to-one scale with specific attention to each student’s needs. This took an incredible burden off of my husband and me because she was able to become more independent in her homework and projects.
As parents, one of the most valuable aspects of Rectory is the relationship we have built with each and every one of her educators. Everyone single teacher has high standards and expectations for our daughter, but they are willing to put the time into working with her to reach those standards. We had become so discouraged by lowering the standards to help her gain success, instead of helping her gain the tools to achieve greatness. Anytime we have an academic concern, we are able to directly discuss it with the teacher and her individual tutor. We work together to come up with a plan that is immediately implemented. There is no need to wait weeks for a meeting or wait for scores to show she is struggling. The staff listens, they work with our family, and they instill confidence in our decision to have our child at Rectory.
MELP is a hands-on learning experience that all students participate in. Research shows that experiential learning is highly beneficial to all students, but is particularly beneficial to students with dyslexia. During MELP, students are immersed in a week-long, hands-on, off-site learning adventure that goes above and beyond a traditional field trip. It is tailored to the area of interest that the group of students wants to dive deep into. Addisyn has made wooden tools, fed baby animals, slept on a whaling boat, and had countless other incredible, memorable opportunities through this program.
Aside from the limitless academic success that students are able to achieve at Rectory, they also are exposed to a fantastic social environment. She has been enveloped by a diverse community with students from all different countries, with a variety of traditions. She has friends from all over the world that are teaching her different languages. She has experienced sports that she never had any exposure to like fencing, tennis, and squash. Students are given the freedom of a beautiful campus where they can socialize, play sports together, watch musical performances, and picnic together. With that freedom comes great responsibility. The importance of honesty, responsibility, respect, and compassion are stressed, and students who live by those principles are celebrated. I appreciate the social standard that students are held to through the Rectory Creed. Students have many discussions that relate to life and can explore topics that are social struggles at this age through the guidance of their advisor and small social groups. Rectory develops the whole person. Addisyn has had opportunities to read to and play with younger students, promoting her caring soul, which is noticed and appreciated at Rectory. She has been involved in groups for community service and had opportunities to engage and help the surrounding communities. Many of the projects and experiences are student-driven. The teachers help students realize their visions and make them a reality. She also worked as a team and explored her engineering side by building a boat out of cardboard and duct tape that was maneuvered across a pond, winning the Regatta Race! She was so proud of her creation, accomplishment, and is already planning the boat she will engineer next year to defend her teams title. There is a balance of freedom and independence that is guided by high standards and success.
Rectory is more than just a school that will teach your child academic subjects. It provides a foundation for life, giving each student the freedom to see and appreciate who they are, and supports them individually to achieve immeasurable success academically and personally. For two years she has been a part of Rectory’s community and we have seen her develop, grow, and build self-esteem to become the strong, caring, independent, educated person that we always knew she was.
This article was originally printed in the Fall 2018 issue of The Rectory News.