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.