Academy Award Winning Singer-Songwriter
Speaks at Lewis School Graduation
Franke Previte Shows his Oscar to Mrs. Lewis
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The New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly passed a joint legislative resolution to honor Lewis School Senior and Princeton resident Natalie Kalibat. Senator Kip Bateman, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Assemblywoman Donna Simon of the 16th District presented Natalie with the certificate.
Princeton University Graduate Returns to Her Roots in Education
Katie Lewis-LaMonica, Lawrenceville native and 2008 Princeton University graduate of The Woodrow Wilson School, returned to her roots in education to celebrate her scholastic achievements. Earlier this June, Katie, an All-American Women’s Lacrosse player, came back to the place where her educational success began—The Lewis School of Princeton.
From an early age, Katie’s parents noticed she had a delay in processing information. When her mom asked her a simple question like, “What color is the bus?” Katie had difficulty retrieving the word “yellow,” but when given a choice between 2 colors, Katie could quickly answer the question. As she grew older, she began to struggle with the mechanics of language. Reading, writing and spelling, were becoming more difficult and inevitably led her to fall behind in public school. Katie reflects, “There was a certain standard that everyone else was expecting me to get to, but I couldn’t get there. I had realized the gap between where I was and where I was supposed to be.” Halfway through the 3rd grade, Katie’s parents recognized that there was a significant difference in the way she was learning and, in turn, arranged to have an educational assessment performed at The Lewis School & Clinic for Educational Therapy.
Katie Lewis-LaMonica recalls not being able to read at all when she first walked through the doors of The Lewis School at 9 years old. She says, “The intense work with phonics is one of the greatest things The Lewis School gave me that my public school didn’t. Lewis helped me most fundamentally by teaching me how to read.” Katie remembers the short vowel fill-in drills, learning blends, diagraphs, spelling rules and writing with red and blue pencils. She says, “A lot of those things still stick with me and I use those skills to this day.” For Katie, The Lewis School was a unique place, from the type of individual attention you get to the care you get both educationally and personally from the teachers.
Katie says, “I had Mrs. Spies when I first came to Lewis. She was just the most loving woman. I remember her being a fantastic teacher and I still remember some of the lessons she taught us, even beyond reading, like treating others as you want to be treated, especially because most of us were having similar troubles with processing, reading, writing and spelling. She taught us that despite our differences, we should not to let it affect our confidence or the way we treat other people. She told us, ‘If you work hard enough you could achieve anything.’”
Katie Lewis-LaMonica’s interest in art started at The Lewis School. She says, “In the very beginning at Lewis, I started doing a lot of art and that’s when I started expressing myself artistically. And that’s something that I’ve continued to do. Even in college it has been a valuable pastime. You’re always going to have the things that are a little more difficult to do, but if you understand what you feel comfortable doing, you can use that to keep yourself focused.”
Lewis put Katie on a path where she was eventually able to transition back into traditional middle school and upper school classrooms. She says, “My parents knew how beneficial the small classrooms were to me when I was at Lewis. As a result, I continued to stay in private schools so I could have that same small learning environment. I bridged into Chapin for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades and then I went to Lawrenceville Prep. for high school.” She says she still had challenges learning how to write well but through hard work she was able to get there. “I know that Lewis taught me not just take the standard path—to search for alternative paths that would get me to the same endpoint even if it wasn’t the same path that everyone else took. You learn from those experiences what your strengths are and what the best method is for you as an individual.”
Katie Lewis-LaMonica, a recruited lacrosse player, entered Princeton University in the fall of 2004. She says, “Being at Princeton and playing lacrosse, people have always told me I have a great work ethic and I attribute that to Lewis.” She says Lewis also taught her to advocate for herself, which included getting accommodations in college. She reflects, “In some respects Princeton doesn’t have the best accommodations available because they hold all their students to a very high standard and want to treat everyone fairly. Sometimes that meant that I had to pick battles with administrators, like how far my accommodations got carried out and how they were implemented. In some ways that’s beneficial because it’s made me be my own advocate, which you definitely have to be if you’re someone with learning differences. I’ve always had accommodations, most specifically with extended time. In college I took my exams on computers because it’s much easier for me to process information when I can manipulate it—organizing all of the thoughts in my head is too challenging for me. Receiving accommodations has always weighed on me because it’s hard when you see your friends who are taking exams with certain restrictions and in some ways it feels like you’re not held to the same standard. I think that’s another thing I’ve had to come to terms with—just understanding my limitations and the boundlessness of my own abilities and owning up to the fact that I am different in the way that I process. Having that documentation is important because you can look at it and see that I process much slower than others but my intellect is just as high. I’ve learned to understand my limitations, and when I’m able to work around those in an appropriate way I can achieve much more.”
Through most of her time at college, Katie focused on child development. She says, “Princeton University is pretty well service oriented and that’s something that I realized I wanted to do when I got to college—be in a public service field within the child development realm from both an educational and public health standpoint. One of the most fundamentally exciting things for me is the potential of a child. Whether it’s the nutritional deficits they encounter in small villages in Uganda or the lack of access to high-quality early education in the public school system in the U.S., I’m attracted to the idea of being able to maximize that development.
Princeton University has a program called Project 55 that places yearlong fellows in public service positions within nonprofit organizations in the U.S., so Katie spent her summers volunteering domestically and abroad. The summer after her freshman year she traveled to Washington, D.C. to work in an educational start-up. After her sophomore year, she spent a summer in New York City working in a public health organization that has a network of maternal-infant health clinics in disadvantaged communities. Last summer, after her junior year, she was in Cape Town, South Africa, working on an educational manual for HIV positive peer mothers who offer counseling, support and educational services to HIV positive pregnant women. She says, “We wanted to inform and encourage mothers that even though they’re HIV positive, they can still have HIV negative children.”
During her 4 year stay at Princeton University, Katie Lewis-LaMonica left her mark academically, socially and athletically. Her accomplishments are numerous:
- 2008 Graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs; BA in Public Policy and International Affairs with a focus on education and child development
- Recipient of the Allen Macy Dulles '51 Award; Presented to a senior whose activities while at Princeton best represent or exemplify the University's informal motto, "Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations"
- Recipient of the Arthur Lane '34 Award; Given to honor selfless contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate athlete
- Vice President of Engineers Without Borders, helping to design and implement a solar energy project in Peru
- Volunteer English tutor with the Princeton Justice Project
- Member of Princeton’s Sustained Dialog program, where small groups of students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds met over meals to candidly discuss delicate issues regarding stereotypes and discrimination
- Youth mentor in the Trenton Bridge Lacrosse Program and an Outdoor Action trip leader
- 2008 All-America candidate; member of United States Elite Team; Tewaaraton Trophy Player to Watch; finished in the top five on Princeton’s all-time goal scoring list
- 2007 Second-team IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-America selection; First-team All-Mid-Atlantic region pick; Unanimous first-team All-Ivy League Choice
- 2006 First-team All Mid-Atlantic regional pick; Second-team All-Ivy
- 2005 Ivy League Women’s Lacrosse Rookie of the Year
Currently, Katie Lewis-LaMonica has a position at The City Ridge Foundation which is a small family foundation in Washington, D.C. that works in international health, early childhood education, and offers a corporate volunteer program. City Ridge has a close relationship with Teach for America. Washington, D.C. is the only place that Teach for America works in Pre-K classrooms—the foundation initiated and funded that program. One of the projects Katie will be working on is maintaining the relationship with Teach for America and organizing training for TFA core members.
She will also work with the Corporate Volunteer Program, where professionals from our partner corporations volunteer on behalf of nonprofits with work ranging from spooning out soup at a soup kitchen to conducting market research. She says, “One thing I may be doing is looking to expand the number of nonprofits or corporations we work with and figuring out which ones may be interested in the same direction that one of the nonprofits is moving in. I will probably also be doing research to determine how the nonprofits can grow and what direction they need to go in to maximize the public benefit they create in the community.”
On June 1, 2008, Katie held her graduation party at The Lewis School. She says, “My education started here at Lewis. Coming back to Lewis gave me that perspective to take a moment and look back at what I’ve achieved and be proud of that. It was really wonderful for me to come back to a place, which in my mind, started me on a path and helped me achieve things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Lewis has shown me what the impact of education can be. I needed really high quality education and if I hadn’t had that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Katie offers some advice to Lewis students, “Realize the value of work ethic; you might not be the best, but you can still achieve at a high level even in areas that you perceive as your weaknesses…That’s something that Lewis taught me and it’s definitely something other children will get from their experiences at Lewis.”