The Power of Progress & People
BY HOPE CAITLIN WETTER, STORYTELLER/WRITER
“You learn that you can do anything if you try and work hard,” said ten-year-old TJS student Hadley Jane at our 2022 Moving On Ceremony, an annual end-of-year celebration for students leaving The Joy School (moving-on and mainstreaming).
As Hadley Jane and her mom, Mary Katherine, reflected on their time at The Joy School, two reoccurring themes seeped throughout the entirety of their conversation. At The Joy School, we:
1. Measure the gain, not the gap.
CELEBRATION > PENALIZATION
We don’t believe in comparison and competition between students – we believe in meeting students where they are at and celebrating them for what they do know, rather than penalizing them for what they do not.
“The teachers catch you up on things even if you don’t believe in yourself,” Hadley Jane said. “They support you no matter what.”
We teach students to appreciate the power of progress. By coaching our students to look at how far they’ve come, rather than how far they still have to go, we instill in them a mindset that breeds confidence and positivity.
“Hadley Jane has become a person that embraces the world in a way that most humans don’t until later in life,” said Mary Katherine. “The Joy School equips people to show up authentically, embrace who they are, and conquer life in a way that brings them joy every day.”
2. Offer familial and student support.
The stress and anxiety of managing academic work for a child with learning differences takes a toll on the entire family. Before coming to TJS, many parents talk about the tears and daily struggles they experience with their child because they are not adequately supported in their current school. But once here, both the student and the parents receive the strategies and tools necessary for the child to succeed, and the grace, compassion, and knowledge to understand that changes won’t happen overnight.
“There have been so many times when the teachers met us where we were in life, whether it was Hadley, our family, or even us individually as parents,” Mary Katherine said. “When you get an email about something that happened in class (good or bad), and you’re addressed ‘Dear Team Hadley,’ you know that you have an entire school there rooting for her and us and saying, ‘Let’s figure this out. Let’s figure out what we can do together, collectively.’ And she will take that with her forever.”
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