It’s a common misconception that dyslexia is almost a visual issue — letters or numbers are flipped on a page making it simply difficult to read or figure. In fact, dyslexia describes a far wider condition, one in which the brain itself is wired differently. That systemic difference (note, difference, not deficiency) requires specific teaching styles and strategies. Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences (such as dysgraphia and dyscalculia) need to be taught in the way their brains are hard-wired to learn.
In 2012 Dr. Gordon Sherman and Dee Rosenberg founded The Laurel School of Princeton to provide exactly this type of instruction. “Celebrating Cerebrodiversity is more than just a motto,” says Head of School Rosenberg. “Students with dyslexia can contribute extraordinary gifts to our world when they are provided with a properly enriched learning environment. At Laurel, we are pursuing that goal.”
Doing so means following a curriculum in which cerebrodiverse instruction is woven into every teaching moment, no matter what the topic. Students are thus able to fully engage in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Furthermore, because all of Laurel’s teachers understand how their students learn, students don’t miss opportunities to enjoy non-academic courses, such as physical education and visual and performing arts.
Since its founding, The Laurel School has evolved into an independent co-educational day school specializing in educating students with language-based learning differences in grades 1-8. In 2019-20 it will expand to include high school students.
“We are extremely proud to expand into the high school level,” Rosenberg says. “We are currently accepting applications for our first high school graduating class of 2023!” In the new high school, students will continue to have an individualized structured literacy program (following the Wilson or Orton Gillingham methods) each day. Other college preparatory subjects will be taught with an inter-disciplinary approach through project-based learning.
The mission of Laurel’s high school is to develop lifelong learners by meeting each student where they are on their academic and social journey. The curriculum emphasizes competencies that include not only academic skills but also social and emotional skills, leadership skills, and the ability to demonstrate self-directed learning. This focus will help students develop the important capacities needed to succeed after they move on to college and the workplace. Above all it will ensure that they are happy, healthy, and whole.
Families are critical to this work. “We will continue to celebrate dyslexic strengths,” Rosenberg asserts, “and to provide a rigorous program that takes advantage of learning across a wide variety of contexts. We will also continue to engage our families to learn about dyslexia and to work with a team to enable their children to accomplish their goals.”
This is an important facet of Laurel’s mission because dyslexia is hereditary and often family members do not understand their children’s issues. Laurel educates and supports family members by offering discussion groups, book readings, and guest speakers.
Find out more about The Laurel School and its superior approach to ensuring that students who learn differently reach their full potential. For information or to visit the school, please contact Kelly Dun at email@example.com.
The Laurel School, 75 Mapleton Road, Princeton. 609-566-6000. www.laurelschoolprinceton.org.