October 20, 2009

Dear Parents of potential St. Christopher Academy students:

I am the mother of a student who is a senior at St. Christopher Academy at Seattle Lutheran High School. I am writing this letter to share a little of my experience with you, and to offer a strong personal endorsement of St. Christopher Academy. As the parent of a learning disabled son, I am aware of the challenges you face in attaining an appropriate educational setting for your child. It is my hope that this letter will assist you in discerning between the educational options you may be considering at this time.

My son was diagnosed with a learning disability in the middle of his freshman year of high school, even though his academic struggles began much earlier. His teachers throughout elementary school were concerned with his school performance, but they felt he simply needed to work harder. By the eighth grade, it seemed clear that he needed a different learning environment, so we moved him from the private school he had been attending to a public school so that he could more easily be observed and evaluated for services. Having been a special education teacher prior to having my children, I felt certain that he would qualify for help, but he did not. He went on to the public high school as we continued to push for services. He spent the first half of that year in a downward academic spiral. As his grades dropped, so did his self-esteem. He seemed to be struggling with everything.

I began to research the various options available for struggling students, and kept returning to the web site for St. Christopher Academy. I eventually made an appointment with the director of the school, Mrs. Darlene Jevne. We discussed the difficulties that were unfolding with my son's education, and she reviewed his test results, which fell exactly in the margin that separates the learning disabled in the public system from everyone else. My son did just well enough to be classified in the "everyone else" category in the public schools. Mrs. Jevne explained how the St. Christopher Academy environment would be different from what we had experienced up to that point. It would be suited to meet his specific learning style and needs, and would provide the structure and close instruction that would help rebuild his confidence and ensure success. After sending him to visit the school for a day, we enrolled him at St. Christopher Academy beginning in the second half of his freshman year.

From the start, St. Christopher Academy provided a high quality of direct instruction and individual attention, as well as an effective safety net for my son in the larger school environment. While he takes most of his classes with the St. Christopher Academy teachers, he regularly has a few Seattle Lutheran courses. These are typically more challenging for him, with larger class sizes and less structure. Mrs. Jevne and her team are highly responsive to the needs of their students in these classes, assisting them in keeping current with assignments, and advocating for additional assistance when it is needed. Project Access is a crucial element in this area, and in helping students to improve work quality. Mrs. Jevne provides additional support by consulting regularly with teachers, assisting them with adaptations and strategies appropriate to individual needs. She and her staff are always available to parents. Recently, my husband and I met with her to plan for our son's post-high school education. She provided a host of options suitable to his interests, aspirations, and learning needs.

Of the many aspects of St. Christopher Academy that I am grateful for, it is the unfailingly positive approach of the St. Christopher Academy staff that truly distinguishes it from other schools we have experienced. Prior to St. Christopher Academy, I had learned to dread my frequent communications with teachers; every conversation seemed to be a critique of my son's school performance. This was painful for me to hear over and over again, but certainly it was worse for my son. In contrast, the St. Christopher Academy teachers have always recognized and commented on the positive: his efforts and successes. They look for what is best in him. Their continued attention to him, his personal growth, and his educational needs has been a major key to his success.

In June, my son will receive his high school diploma; an important accomplishment of which our family will be very proud. The challenges he has faced in high school may be different than many of his Seattle Lutheran classmates, but his accomplishments have been no less significant. His ability to succeed in school has been greatly enhanced under the careful guidance of Mrs. Jevne and the staff at St. Christopher Academy, and the positive learning environment at Seattle Lutheran High School.

I am pleased to be able to assist you in knowing more about the excellent opportunity that is available to you at St. Christopher Academy. I hope you will take a close look, and consider seriously the opportunity for academic success that it offers.

Sincerely,

Jane Wraith
Parent of a St. Christopher Academy student




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