If you’ve been around boarding schools any length of time, you’ve seen this story line play-out- child struggles in school, family isn’t sure what to do and searches for answers, student is tested, a learning difference is uncovered a course of action results.
Boy, if it really were that neat.
That quick description does no justice to the pain and struggles of student and family. In this kind of situation, student and family both find themselves grasping for reasons and solutions where no neat cure exists. In most of these cases, the struggle doesn’t end, but the student learns to adapt and cope. The solution is to learn how to live with the issue.
Donna Dubinsky (Mom) and Marina Dubinsky (Daughter) explore this very kind of situation in their article for doubleX, “The Boarding School Solution: Why I send my daughter across the country for special education.” Ms. Dubinsky and her husband find themselves searching, working with their public school system, and eventually reaching the conclusion that the best school for Marina is cross country in New England.
The article takes readers from Marina’s kindergarten year to the her pending senior at Eagle Hill School. Along the way, we hear about the testing, the struggles, the frustration, the coming to terms with special education, and finally a positive learning environment for Marina.
While I appreciate Marina’s struggles, I most appreciate her mother’s candor. I’m not sure that I’ve heard a parent lay their own struggle on the table so bluntly:
“…I certainly wasn’t happy. I had never imagined my world as a mother being one of special education, extra tutoring, and individual education plans. But that’s what Marina’s life and mine would become…
…Humbled, we returned to the consultant. She told us about a range of boarding schools, all on the East Coast…”
Nothing that Eagle Hill does can make Marina different, but the school has helped her understand and become comfortable with herself.
“…I asked Marina what she would tell a younger student whose family was considering boarding school, where both the parents and the kid were nervous about leaving home. She said, “If you go to a school like Eagle Hill, you will figure out what works for you and how you learn. If you don’t finish your work, the teachers have extra hours when you can go see them both in the morning and after school.” She talked about trying sports like fencing. And about how, among the groups of kids, “There isn’t a group that is better than you.
I still find myself sad every time we put Marina back on United 172 to Boston. But I know now that as hard as it’s been for us to let her go, it would have been very selfish to make her stay.” (dX)