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Ever since I was a young boy I have been curious and excited to learn new things. My favorite books where the Curious George books, as I thought the little monkey, George, was very much like me. George was certainly lovable, but he was always in some sort of predicament. I could relate to George.
From my earliest memories of elementary school, I felt as though I was not meeting the expectations of my teachers. I particularly struggled in reading, writing and math, and was diagnosed with a non-specific learning disorder. I felt as though I was always lagging behind the other kids and I had a great deal of trouble being organized. I spent hours doing my homework each night, but usually got in trouble anyway because I couldn’t find it to turn in. My backpack always looked like a bomb had exploded inside it.
In junior high school, things got even worse as the course load increased. I had a hard time adjusting to changing classes and trying to meet the expectations of many different teachers, all in the course of one day. Organizational skills were still a distinct weakness and I had tutors in almost every subject. It was a very frustrating time in my life.
My parents worried about sending me to the local public high school, as it was very large. So we looked into boarding schools, and I began my freshman year at the South Kent School in South Kent, CT. Socially, I adjusted quickly and was elected to the student council, and placed on both the varsity soccer and tennis teams. Academically, I made some gains and even earned the Freshman Historian Award. But schoolwork remained a struggle, so my parents had me tested and I was diagnosed with dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
So I began my sophomore year at yet another school, The Lewis School of Princeton. Finally, I had found the school where I belonged. The Lewis School focuses on teaching students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. It was full of students just like me. I started school immediately, attending the Summer Study program for the month of July 2010. From the very first day, it was a transforming experience. The Lewis School uses a multi-sensory approach that teaches students how to learn based upon their individual learning strengths and weaknesses. I did multi-sensory handwriting drills to help improve my grapho-motor deficiencies. As a class, we spent time every day on the etymologies of Greek and Latin roots and syllabication, which has helped me with my vocabulary. My writing has also greatly improved, as I can now sit down and plan out a paper, write a strong thesis statement, and use transitional words and topic sentences to prove my point. I’ve learned to take split-page notes, which help me to identify and remember the most important material in a textbook. I have learned the Paulk Cornell “SQ4R” note-taking method, which stands for survey, question, read, (w)rite, recite, and review. This is extremely effective when taking lecture notes.
The Lewis School is not an easy school. I have worked harder than ever before. The teachers expect you to do your best and they are always willing to help. They don’t hold your hand along the journey or treat you differently because you have a learning difference; rather, they guide you along the path towards becoming self-sufficient. The Lewis School has taught me many strategies that, combined with a solid work ethic, will allow me to meet with academic success as I move on to the next stage of my education.
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