“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” ~Albert Einstein
I love this quote. Shelly Terrell ( @ShellTerrell ) shares this quote on her blog post for today’s #30goals challenge. It speaks to me for several reasons, but in particular, it speaks to me because of my son, Ryley. You see, Ryley is dyslexic and has ADD. He was diagnosed at the end of his 1st grade year and began dyslexia therapy at his school at the beginning of 2nd grade. Ry is now a 4th grader, and, in November, my husband and I made one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make with regard to Ryley’s education. We decided to withdraw him from the public school where he had attended since 1st grade (within the same district that I have worked for the past 13 years) and enroll him in a private school.
Ryley had a wonderful teacher in 1st grade, Mrs. Seymour. Mrs. Seymour worked so hard in order to make sure that Ry was caught up. She was attentive to his needs and encouraged his questions and stories. She had a knack for knowing his frustration level and keeping it from reaching that point. It was also evident that Mrs. Seymour truly loved Ry.
This could also be said about Ryley’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Moushon. Mrs. Moushon always thought a bit outside of the box and came up with clever solutions for common problems. She had a very untraditional classroom where children sat on exercise balls instead of chairs and assigned hand motions and body movements for almost all of the concepts that she taught. This style of teaching and learning really appealed to Ryley, and he made a great amount of progress in Mrs. Moushon’s classroom.
Unfortunately, when Ryley reached 4th grade, all the progress he had made in 3rd grade slowly began to fade. It wasn’t that his teachers didn’t want to work with him. It wasn’t that his teachers never worked with him. They did. However, I kept finding that things could not be modified in certain ways for him because they could not be done that way on the day of the state mandated test. This seemed counterproductive to me, and so I began searching for alternative solutions for this problem. That’s when I found Sharp Academy.
Sharp Academy is a school primarily for students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphic, ADD, ADHD, or other auditory, language, or visual disorders. This school has been a HUGE blessing for not only Ryley, but also for our family. Why? Because the value is not on grades (although Ryley is now making straight A’s!). Instead, the value is on growth.
Today, I met with the director of Sharp Academy to discuss Ry’s progress since November. Instead of pulling out a bunch of papers and worksheets that Ry had completed (probably because most of their work is project based) we discussed Ryley’s IEP and his progress at the school. Each six weeks the teachers at the school meet to discuss each child’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs. They then modify the IEP accordingly. In addition, they each take the time to write brief notes on how each child is progressing in their class academically, behaviorally, and socially.
As a parent, and as an educator, I so appreciate this approach to education. I love the fact that they value my son, flaws and all. I love that the focus is on individual growth and not on grades. After all, isn’t this what education should really be about?
View Ry’s Week 1 Reflection about Sharp Academy.