Boarding school is so much more than a learning environment, which includes a place to live and sleep. A boarding environment creates a community where the learning happens in and out of the classroom naturally.
Kevin Pendergast, Headmaster of The Kildonan School, says, “In 20th Century America, non-parochial private school placement carried a societal prestige and a near-guarantee of successful college placement that public schools often struggled to achieve.” He explains that today, parents have become much more involved in the daily lives of their children causing the desire to send them away to school to fade.
“The relationship between tax revenue and the quality of public education is also driving this gradual transformation,” Pendergast says. “If the local public school that you worked so hard to gain access to offers every sport imaginable, fantastic SAT test results, and AP courses, why would you pay both those high taxes and a private school tuition elsewhere?”
He continues, “Parents who do make the independent school choice, especially the boarding school choice, most often find that the added investment is worth every penny.” Pointing to research, Pendergast says graduates of independent schools, student for student, get into better colleges and secure more rewarding careers than their public school peers.
“The data is even more favorable for boarding school graduates, who also achieve financial independence sooner than graduates both of private day schools and public high schools,” Pendergast says. “Although correlation isn’t causation, it’s clear that the independence fostered by a boarding school placement elicits from students the resourcefulness, maturity, and self-advocacy skills necessary to succeed in college and in a career.”
The independence of boarding schools from the standards and procedures of a state’s education department also boosts a student’s possibilities by allowing school staff to tailor that student’s academic program to his or her specific needs.
Pendergast adds, “No one sees the benefits of that independence and residential character-building more than students and families at independent Learning Disabilities (LD) boarding schools. When you add the boarding dynamic, in which specially trained teachers guide students in their evening assignments and act as dorm parents to them during downtime, the full potential of that bright LD student emerges.”
Pendergast concludes, “I have just described daily life at The Kildonan School, where bright dyslexics in grades 2 through 12 (boarding for middle and high school) develop skills in reading, writing, and spelling while discovering and advancing their dyslexia-based talents in problem-solving, critical analysis, narrative reasoning, programming, design, and the arts.”
Although every student receives one-on-one tutoring from an Orton-Gillingham-trained specialist, all the subject matter teachers (science, math, history, literature, foreign language, design, art, music, and horseback riding) also receive the O.G. training and use their knowledge of the dyslexic brain to engage their students intellectually and creatively. Those teachers make the most of dyslexics’ visual abilities and incorporate O.G. principles into their lessons so that students are building their reading and writing skills while acquiring content knowledge in a non-traditional manner.
“All of our graduates win acceptance to four-year colleges by traveling the less-beaten path of a dyslexia-focused college prep program in which their confidence rises on the triad of skills-building, talent-development, and community service,” Pendergast says. “Such service opportunities include the mentoring our high school students conduct with dyslexic elementary students at a local public school through the national grassroots organization Eye to Eye.”
Sound too good to be true? Come visit to see this unique enterprise for yourself: www.kildonan.org.
The Kildonan School
425 Morse Hill Rd., Amenia
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