I got a last minute invitation to attend the Woodlynde School parent fundraiser on Saturday night. I never heard of the place, but free food and drink can get me out the house in most instances. Located in Strafford, right next to Wayne, PA, as expected, I was rolling in ‘high cotton.’
The program started with a silent auction with nearly 75 different things to bid on. Some of the more unique items (to me) were trips to the movies, or a pizza shop, or other type of activities with a teacher. Right there I realized the teacher, student, parent relationship must be strong at this school.
There was a lot of time to mingle during the auction period, so I met a few parents, a few teachers, and the Head of School. Since the Head of School was the only other black man in the room, it was only fitting we’d connect.
During the dinner hour, we heard from a few administrators and enjoyed 4 performances from different students on violin, slide trombone, guitar, and the last one sung a show tune.
Next to me at dinner was a member of the Board who spend K-12 as a student at the school. He was the perfect person to ask the many questions I had about what Woodlynde was all about. Since I didn’t take notes, much of what he said is as follows from their website…
The typical Woodlynde student has language- or math-based learning differences (such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia), executive function challenges, ADHD, auditory processing disorder, or they may simply need a small classroom environment in order to be successful.
That’s when the light went off in my head. This is a school that deals with the same issues students from Chester go through and are either labeled as ‘special education’ or are prescribed Ritalin or Adderall. At Woodlynde, they prescribe a very well trained staff that resolve those issues using testing, instruction, programming, and a lot of personal attention.
While many of our students may have a diagnosed “learning disability,” at Woodlynde, we don’t see them as disabled. Quite the contrary. Our intelligent, talented students are as “able” as other students to excel in the classroom. They simply need the opportunity and guidance to develop a clear understanding of their learning differences, acquire the learning strategie they can use to be successful, and evolve into confident young adults and self-advocates who are ready to embrace the lives they were meant to lead.
What kind of results would we see in the classroom if Chester students had access to this type of instruction?
As many are angered at the ‘Aunt Becky’ college admissions scandal being the biggest example of how privilege influences our nation’s education, I contend it’s the legal stuff where privilege has the greatest impact.
I don’t know anyone in Chester, or many other places, who can afford up to $40,000 for Woodlynde tuition. That’s not a crime. However, the results of not having that type of education available to every student who needs it should be considered criminal in the U.S.A.