Chrysalis School Review, Shelley Svien

Chrysalis is more than a school, it is a community and one that my son loved being a part of every day.

My son was a senior at Chrysalis High School this year and passed away from a seizure. I will be forever grateful to Chrysalis for changing our lives. Let me share why.

My son had a non-verbal learning disability, Asperger’s and was his quirky, loving self. He definitely marched to his own beat. We found Chrysalis when he was in the sixth grade and it changed our life. He went from being an outcast to having true friends that spent lunch time and weekends together. He went from doubting everything he did to having confidence and couldn’t wait to be out on his own. He went from hating school to setting his alarm to make sure he was the first one at school in the morning. He went from feeling like a failure to setting goals to finish Calculus before he graduated. He went from not feeling like he had a voice to being completely confident in sharing his opinion, and boy did he! He went from being sad to being happy with a huge smile on his face every day. He truly blossomed. Having my son attend Chrysalis was the best decision I ever made.

Chrysalis used my son’s interests to help him learn. He had a hard time grasping Physics. His teacher knew that he loved to videotape and incorporated this into his teaching. They would research the various topics then have a debate which my son videotaped and narrated. He couldn’t wait to go to class! English was a struggle for my son. His teacher knew that he loved computers and spent all of his free time playing Facebook games. To help him learn vocabulary, part of his homework was to play vocabulary computer games which he continued to play just for fun.

Chrysalis made modifications that were conducive for my son’s learning style. Although my son excelled at Math, reading comprehension was difficult. Chrysalis modified all of his other subjects to accommodate for this. His teachers went to libraries, online, etc. searching for the right books, activities, lessons so that he could continue to learn in a way that he could understand. His English teacher would provide an ebook as well as an audio version so that he could listen and read along at the same time. For the first time ever, English became one of his favorite subjects!

Chrysalis ensured that my son was always part of the group. My son liked to be alone, however, the teachers at Chrysalis made sure that everyone was included and a part of the community. They encouraged and fostered an environment where every student was part of a group. The teachers would provide opportunities for social interaction and friendships by bringing students together through games and conversation. This is how my son made lasting friendships. For any parent whose child has a difficult time making friends, this was the most wonderful gift.

Chrysalis went above and beyond to give my son confidence. My son was in a small sociology class which was great for him socially. He had a lot of anxiety over it and didn’t always understand the group class assignments. My son talked to the teacher about this and to help him succeed, she met with him prior to class to go through the assignment, explain what they would be discussing during class so that he felt prepared and could contribute with the rest of his peers.

From a personal perspective, the Chrysalis community has been a pillar of support to me. The principal, teachers, students and families helped put together my son’s Celebration of Life service which was held at the school in his honor. It was an amazing tribute.

Thank you Chrysalis for being a part of my son’s life – for accepting him for who he was, encouraging him to reach for the stars, giving him friendships that made my heart swell and providing a safe and nurturing learning environment. I will be forever grateful.

Lodie Grubb Chrysalis School Review

Chrysalis has been the perfect fit for my son. I moved my son from public school to Montessori school in the 4th grade because he was not getting what he needed in the public school system. He sat in the middle with the system: no learning disability and no exceptional gifted abilities. An average boy. Popular with his friends, athletic and not interested in sitting in class for hours on end.
Much of his day was spent with his teacher shaming him for being “off task” and not focusing. He lost his confidence and disliked going to school.

Montessori worked for a few years, but then became very rigorous academically in the 7th grade. The same thing began to happen again. I could see his confidence being affected. This beautiful child is an average student, but an exceptional human being. He deserved more. He deserved to be in an atmosphere that rewards him for who he is and encourages his interests.
For 8th grade, I found Chrysalis! It has been a game changer!

Chrysalis customizes education to each student.  My son hated homework…he gets it all done at school before he leaves. My son hated the repetition of Math problems. He works one-on-one with a Math teacher to learn individually. Time is not wasted on things he already knows. They can concentrate on his personal learning needs.  My son is happy and confident. There are about twenty 8th graders and he has many friends. He looks forward to going to school each day and is learning like never before. He looks forward to staying at Chrysalis through High School and is already talking about what colleges he would like to go to.

Lastly, I must share and experience: His English teacher stopped me one day when I ran into school to drop something off. In the past, this would have incited dread in me. She said, ”I just want to tell you how wonderful your son is.” I cried. I have never been told that by a teacher. He is a wonderful boy. Thank you, Chrysalis!

Sarah Hurst Chrysalis School Testimonial

After a couple of years in another private school my son started to fall behind in a couple of subjects, besides hurting him academically, this was also beginning to effect his social interactions at school, and his self esteem. His school suggested that we get him some outside help so we began to enroll him in after school reading labs and tutoring sessions. Homework started to get difficult, arguments would rear up over misunderstandings. He seemed to be unhappy and struggling with the fact that his other class mates knew he wasn’t keeping up. We would have many conversations about how he felt he was “stupid” and how the other kids were starting to tease him more often about being a little behind. After multiple meetings with the faculty and administration we decided that the school did not have the proper tools to help my son get through the obstacles he was facing in the classroom.

I had also struggled with some of the same issues in school and as an adolescent I was diagnosed with auditory memory dyslexia. My own mother had searched for ways to help me, tutors and after school programs, special education programs, anything that was available to struggling students, but nothing seemed to help me. I remember feeling that I was somehow less than others, I was angry, and often wanted to just give up, which I tried on several occasions. I fell behind in school, almost a whole year, when in 1992 my mother found Chrysalis. My teacher helped me one on one, he was able to change the curriculum to fit my learning style and explained things to me in a way that I understood. I began to get a handle on the concepts that had eluded me in the past and it felt great! I worked hard and made up the year that I was behind, keeping that momentum I was also able to graduate a year early. After graduating from Chrysalis I was accepted into BYU Hawaii, another amazing feat considering the direction I was headed just a few short years earlier, I have no doubt that Chrysalis changed my life forever.

My son is now going on his second year at Chrysalis, after just one year he is right back where he should be academically, his self esteem has skyrocketed and he is happy, he is actually enjoying school for a change, and is definitely “sick” a lot less. – 1994 Chrysalis School Graduate and Parent

Jacquie Moore Chrysalis School Testimonial

Mike has worked as a professional actor since the age of 8. He literally “grew up” on the stage at the Village Theater.

In our house we encourage our children to go further than just asking ‘why?’…..we encourage them to ask “why NOT?” and then help them pursue their dreams and passions at the same time as working on their academia. We believe that a World view fosters empathy, understanding and a belief that they can create change in the world.

While dreams and passions fuel the fire, academics give the knowledge and understanding of how to make change happen. At Chrysalis Mike has been honored in his passion while being given a very rigorous academic schedule to encourage and feed his need for knowledge.
Mike was recently in the feature film World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. The staff at Chrysalis have allowed him time to go on auditions and work on set during filming of various projects. He most recently performed at the Village Theaters Fund Raising Luncheon for the Kidstage programs – a gig he willingly volunteers for every year.

He also loves traveling. He has been to Machu Picchu and Patagonia. He recently traveled to Spain for a home stay Spanish immersion program the month of June and will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with his Dad in late January of 2010. Again, without being enrolled in Chrysalis, these life-altering trips would not be possible.

As parents, we would not settle for anything less in a school than one that applies the same philosophy we do here at home. These children are the future of our world. We need to honor them, believe in them and hold them up to as high a standard as is possible. They will truly rise if they are allowed the freedom to believe in themselves (i.e. follow their dreams or passions) and if they are given the tools with which to continue learning throughout their lives (i.e. challenging course studies and supportive teachers)” -Jacquie Moore

Book Review: Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina

By Karen Fogle

Book: Brain Rules

Big Idea:

There is an abundance of scientific research detailing how the brain works. This information is extremely important for anyone interested in maximizing their performance in various  environments.

Notes:

Brain Rules was written by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, affiliate professor at the UW and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. These interests combine to make a compelling picture of how our brains work and the Brain Rules we need to follow so our brains work their best. Add to this his sense of humor and this book is a must read. If you don’t have time to read the book or are in a great hurry for the information, go to his website brainrules.net and see the 12 brain rules demonstrated by John on video.

Quotes:

John’s thoughts on schools based on Brain Rule #3- Every brain is wired differently.

“Every student’s brain, every employees brain, every customer’s brain is wired differently. That’s the Brain Rule. You can either accede to it or ignore it. The current system of education chooses  the latter, to our detriment.  It needs to be torn down and newly envisioned in a Manhattan Project-size commitment to individualizing instruction. We might, among other things, dismantle all together grade structures based on age.”

“1.)The current system is founded on a series of expectations that certain learning goals should be achieved by a certain age. Yet there is no reason to suspect that the brain pays attention to those expectations. Students of the same age show a great deal of intellectual variability.

2.) These differences can profoundly influence classroom performance. This has been tested. For example, about 10% of students have brains wired to read at the age at which we expect them to read. Lockstep models based simply on age are guaranteed to create a counterproductive mismatch to brain biology.” (Medina)

Also a must read for parents of babies and children of all ages is John’s latest book, Brain Rules for Baby.

Book Review: Your Child’s Strengths, Jenifer Fox

By Karen Fogle

Book: Your Child’s Strengths

Big Idea:

You make your greatest progress in an area of strength, not an area of weakness.

Notes:

One idea we can’t seem to get out of our heads is that school and education is about pointing out errors and spending time working on improving our weaknesses. There is extensive research supporting the concept that we will be happier and have a higher level of performance if we focus on developing our natural abilities and strengths. It doesn’t mean weaknesses aren’t addressed. It just means that weaknesses need to be put in the background and minimized. This book goes into great detail about how you can help your child discover their areas of strength as well as the activities and relationships that strengthen them. It details how you can help your child identify their strengths and achieve their greatest potential.

Quote:

“The setting most responsible for the proliferation of the term learning disability is the traditional school. If all public and private schools are working off the same model of teaching and learning the student will be disabled in every school that uses that model. Therefore, schools must be willing to depart from the traditional methods used to teach and assess performance. Better schools will create programs that meet students where they are and take them where they have faith they can go.” (Fox)

For more research on this topic and an adult survey to help you discover your strengths, see Marcus Buckingham’s book Now, Discover Your Strengths