Fredericksburg Parent

July 2018

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48 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • July 2018 WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA CARSON The Marshall How did The Marshall School get started? First, I need to give a bit of information about my tutoring center and how that led to the school. I always knew I wanted to be a special education teacher. In college, they taught me that students with learning disabilities would always have them. "That's how they are. That's how they will always be. They will have to learn how to deal with it." When I began teaching, the focus was on getting my stu- dents to pass the state test. We didn't have time to "fix" the disabilities. We accommodated and modified the work. It felt like we didn't care if they could read, just that they could pass the test. My students were bright and could pass the test as long as someone read it to them. But I worried about what their future would look like. They might pass enough tests to get their diplomas, but what purpose would that serve if they still couldn't read? How would they pass their driver's license tests or fill out a job application? These thoughts overwhelmed me. I came home crying almost every night. There had to be something more that I could do. I searched for ways to help my students and found a website that talked about how they differed from a typical tutoring center or school. They based their work on how the brain processes information. With the right training, students can strengthen their brains to get rid of whatever is caus- ing the learning disability. This was different from what I had ever heard before, but it made so much sense. For the first time, I believed I could help my students. I attended the training and was so excited to use these strategies with my students. The administration and the special education supervisor told me it wasn't possible to use these strategies in the school. It didn't matter how effective they were. (While it's not the schools' fault, the way they measure success is the number of students who pass the SOLs.) I was so frustrated! My hands were tied. I had the knowledge, but I couldn't use it. I couldn't take it anymore, so I opened our learning center in December 2002. There was such a need for our specialized work. We grew quickly. I stopped teaching full-time and focused on running the center. We are not like a typical tutoring center. We train the brain to process informa- tion. We don't help with homework, so when someone comes to us, we are usually adding something more to their schedule. Our goal is to correct what is causing the problem in the first place, so the student won't always need a tutor. One student stands out. She was in fifth grade, a grade that had four SOL tests. She was spending hours each night trying to memorize everything she would need for her tests, but she was only reading on a second-grade level. I needed her to spend more time doing our work to increase her reading. Her parents were concerned about her passing her SOLs. And suddenly, it hit me. I needed to open a school. "With the right training, students can strengthen their brains to get rid of whatever is causing the learning disability." 48 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • July 2018 Sponsored Material School

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