Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanks, Sally

Sally Smith, founder of the Lab School of Washington, passed away yesterday. I never met Sally, but I mourn her loss. In 1967, Sally Smith's son was diagnosed with learning disabilities. She was told he could be educated with the retarded, or with the disturbed. She came up with her own option, and started a school for bright kids with learning disabilities. She made up her own methods as she went along; these have since been duplicated all over the world. Her philosophy was that all children could learn, and it was up to the adults to figure out how to make that happen.

I owe her a tremendous debt. My son is learning disabled. He's bright. And in 2003, there were still almost no options for educating him. Luckily for us, Sally's idea in 1967 had grown, and a new school, Baltimore Lab, was expanding. Our son has thrived there, turning into an educated, confident young man. He went from barely reading, to reading far in advance of his grade level. He couldn't learn to subtract in his previous school, and now he handles pre-algebra with relative ease. I don't think I will ever understand how less homework, fewer tests, almost no structure and what seems to be very little work produces these results. It is akin to magic in my mind. All I know is it does work, and I am forever grateful to Sally Smith.

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