Be the Person You Want to Be
Deb McLaughlin
By Deb McLaughlin
Instructional Support
 
September 28, 2018  
 
I recently returned to Forest Ridge as the new Learning Support staff for the high school. I am proud to say I am an alumna of Forest Ridge and that I inaugurated this role back in 2009-2014. As a Learning Support Specialist, I am interested in the connections among disciplines, how the integration of brain-heart-hands help us learn better, and in building connections among people. I don’t just work with the girls who have learning disabilities, but with the whole community to help girls understand their learning profiles and to help the faculty increase their skills in differentiated instruction. For example, at a recent in-service day with faculty, we watched and discussed How Are You Smart? What Students with Learning Disabilities are Teaching Us.     
 
As I often share with our students, it’s important to learn scientific method and evidence-based inquiry skills around history and writing cogent essays—even if these are not your natural talents. These academic skills are transferable and useful throughout life, and they can help students achieve their as-yet unrealized dreams. Forest Ridge is interested in helping each student succeed by partnering in the creation of academic goals. To that end, we practice study skills, time management, executive function skills, how to persist through challenges and how to communicate with teachers. I also help students identify their learning strengths and challenges.  
 
I am also very interested in partnering with parents on this journey of shepherding our students toward adult life. My colleague in the middle school, Chris Golden, and I are developing a Weebly website within our larger Forest Ridge FR Instruction site. This will be a place for us to share information and resources as well as interesting events related to all-things-learning.  
 
One community resource that I recommend for those who have a particular interest in ADHD, is the upcoming speaking event Chess, ADHD and Empowerment by Edward Hallowell and Elliott Neff, Chess Master. Mr. Hallowell is a well-known expert on executive function. I’ve already bought my ticket for October 17, and I would love to rendezvous if you are planning to attend.  
 
Cognitive Diversity is a gift to our community. We are all smart in a variety of ways. Our goal is not to make students into just a “math person” or the best writer in the world; our goal is to help the Forest Ridge girl become the person she wants to be.
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