A Lewis School Education: Essential
There are essential differences between
The Lewis School and other schools. Education is designed to discover
and cultivate each student's unique potential and character and should be
made available in a school that functions as a vigorous, diverse, and
integrated educational community of programs and support for all
members. Our model of education is not
Teachers are the specialists in
our model because they are rigorously trained and prepared, step by step, as
educational therapists in the academic areas and age groups for which they
are State Certified. It is these extraordinary teachers who are not
only the glue of The Lewis School, but its very foundation, its delivery
system, and its advocates. Our teachers are the
architects and the inspiration of our students' education.
Our teachers are empowered.
They are essentially and directly involved in every aspect of educational
planning and development. Whether they have first-hand access to a
student's neuro-psychological or psycho-educational test results, whether
they participate as clinical assistants, or whether they help resolve
parents' frustration with homework or design multi-sensory teaching materials
for their next morning's lessons, they are prepared and participatory. They
have both carefully supervised authority and also the responsibility that
goes with that authority. Our teachers are integral
participants in the evolution of all spheres of education at The Lewis Clinic
and School, not merely peripheral, dutiful servants of it.
At The Lewis School, all students'
learning problems, as well as their gifts and talents, are considered diverse
reflections of individual strengths and weaknesses, and not as
classifications that isolate or stigmatize children unnecessarily. The first step children must take in a successful education is
to learn that they can learn.
The Lewis School has developed an education that works.
One proof of our education's effectiveness is that it works for the most
academically needy students whom other schools have forsaken or neglected.
It works for children who are routinely assigned various euphemistic labels
for their learning problems, shamed as lazy, unmotivated, slow-track
learners, resource-room kids, or learning-disabled students. These are
bright children with different and diverse educational needs that the
majority of schools fail to understand or are at a loss to repair, children
whose promise and gifts remain obscured in an educational system not suited
to meet their needs.
Children who fall through the cracks
elsewhere have been discovered at The Lewis Clinic and School to be bright,
fully capable persons of ability, talent, and untapped promise.
Ironically, as the neuro-scientific research of recent years has
corroborated, the different environments and organization of the brain that
result in dyslexia, ADD, or related, atypical styles of learning may also be responsible for the skills of three-dimensional
thinking and invention apparent in the artistic, musical, creative, and
athletic ability of so many of our students.
The Lewis School has always recognized,
valued, and developed the intelligence and creative strengths of its bright,
learning-different students. The idea of Multiple Intelligences
is an underlying, fundamental principle of a Lewis School education.
The many dynamic expressions of intelligence were
suggested in the early research of Norman Geschwind, Richard Masland, Bruce
Pennington, and by the studies of educational experts in the neurosciences
like Martha Denckla, et al. The research of these pioneering experts
has been corroborated and expanded in the more recent work of Howard Gardner,
Joseph Renzulli, Dee Dickerson, and Linda and Bruce Campbell.
At The Lewis School, students begin to flourish as they learn how to learn the underlying mechanics and processes of
language for the first time. As they do so, their self-confidence,
trust, and motivation are restored. They learn to respect and enjoy
school as a safe, structured, and understanding environment. When
students finish their years at "Lewis," they become enthusiastic
alumni who attend the nation's best colleges and graduate schools. They
contribute to society in a wide variety of pursuits as artists,
entrepreneurs, poets, teachers, original thinkers in science and math, and good
These students' diverse learning needs and
styles, their academic struggle or school failure, too often become the
consuming focus of mainstream educators who generally have little
subtle knowledge of learning differences because of inadequate testing procedures
as well as the limited means of remedial intervention available to
them. The resultant tragedy is that inherent abilities, and important
talents and gifts, are neglected or remain fettered. Good minds and their great possibilities need not be lost.
The Lewis School is truly a
cross-curricular program. The individual
strengths and weaknesses of all children, their academic and their personal
needs, do not stop at the science or math classroom, or at the resource-room,
or at the school doors. These travel with them every moment and
everywhere within and beyond school. Excellent progress in learning how
to learn is not enough alone to develop and sustain the best in children,
unless learning in the other "languages" of behavior, emotion,
socialization, honesty, responsibility, problem-solving, conflict-resolution,
inter- and intra-personal intelligence, and spirituality is an essential part
of their daily educational experience. This integration of these many
"languages" and learning happens every day at The Lewis School.
The School Day
Multi-sensory education is provided in all
classes and in every subject or program at The Lewis School.
During the early morning hours between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., every student,
regardless of age, begins preparing the brain by studying the mechanics of
language, adapted appropriately for the student's age and current level of
ability. This includes reading, writing, spelling, listening
comprehension, auditory sequencing, active working memory, visual-motor
discrimination, and decoding and encoding skills presented in sequential,
unisensory increments, one step at a time.
These skills carry over into all classes and
all subjects during the rest of the day. They are practiced
within course content and implemented by teachers trained as Multi-Sensory
Learning Therapists in their own areas of expertise: math, science,
literature, art, music, history, etc.
Course content is challenging and
sophisticated, following, in the least, State Education Curriculum
guidelines and, more often than not, enhancing these requirements. A
child's effort as well as his or her achievement is valued by all
teachers. In this way, learning weaknesses are repaired, and the
aptitudes and acumen of our bright children are developed.
The students' classes, their school day, and
the school year provide other significant design differences. To
encourage socialization and bonding, most children spend the first half-hour
of the morning in larger homeroom classes of 10 or 14 students. This
experience gives children who have been out of the mainstream of education a
sense of belonging and community.
While the idea of an extended school year is
considered progressive, and has been implemented recently by a few school
districts in the country, The Lewis School has had such a calendar in place
since 1973. During the summer our students keep learned skills honed
and practiced, maximizing automaticity and internalizing learning.
All students at The Lewis School attend classes from September to the end of
July. This allows our teachers to take advantage of what research has
taught them about brain function, mental receptivity, and memory. It
also provides for a continuity of learning that can greatly benefit any
A great education takes time and timing. Children are a revelation, for they seem to have their
very own learning clocks in their heads that few educators know how to
read. In addition, children's minds are changing in our changing,
technological society. Their minds are more dynamic and more
aware because of access to information in contrast to the rigid framework of
public-school grade- and age-appropriate performance assumptions. A
student's progress is formally assessed in the spring of each year. It
is at this time that we can determine the level of progress and the future
planning. On average, students stay at The Lewis School for three
years, keeping in mind that each child is different and progresses according
to their own internal clock.
When a student at The Lewis School achieves
mastery in learning, and this competency has been internalized and
applied by the student in self-initiated, self-directed study, he or she
moves on to the next challenge. As a result, it is not uncommon at The
Lewis School to find an accomplished 10th grader studying weighted word
meanings in a vocabulary class with our high school, college-preparatory