People keep trying to pin us down as to what kind of students we specialize in. Most parents can look at our website, see consistency, positive reinforcement, remediation, reduced stress, and the other words we use, and know if this would be a good fit for their child. Many of our children suffer from anxiety, much of it school related.
But what every one of our kids have in common is undiscovered brilliance. My educational hero, Marva Collins, writes of telling a student, “Every time (Michaelangelo) saw a piece of marble, he would think of the beautiful angels he could carve from it. Just as Michaelangelo thought there was an angel locked inside every piece of marble, I think there is a brilliant child locked inside every student in this school.”
Amen. I feel the same. When it came time to accept children or not, I didn’t really care about numbers on a paper. I wanted to look inside their eyes and see someone there. And in every case I did. One child had been allowed to sit and do nothing despite parents who tried everything. The assumption was that she couldn’t do much. The second week of school she joined in a discussion of Egyptian canopic jars. At first she would only draw in her journal. Now she writes eight or more sentences, complete with capital letters and ending punctuation. During her reading and math time, she asks for more work. She completed 14 Saxon math lessons in three days.
Other children have been held back because of behaviors that are unproductive coping mechanisms for feelings of insecurity or anxiety, as well as inadequate academic skills. We surround them with words and real literature. We remediate where needed, always chipping away at that marble to find the angel inside. Others are way above average and we modify their lessons to make sure they spend less time at busy work.
Yet others have an intensity that sometimes overflows. That intensity needs to be channeled into positive areas, but those areas are there and will often serve the child well later in life.
If you know a child who suffers from undiscovered brilliance, send them our way. They may not be the easiest kids to work with, but what’s waiting inside that block of marble is something miraculous.