Oak Hill Blog

A boarding school that allows students with learning differences a feeling of belonging?

I was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, and in my old high school, where 30+ kids in a class was typical, I was failing.  It had me questioning myself and if I was even smart enough for school.  I’ve been at Oak Hill Academy for three years, and it hasn’t been easy, but I now have the grades, and, more importantly, the belief in myself, that I now see college options opening up. – A member of the Class of ’18.

The following point comes up often in conversations with prospective parents:  Oak Hill Academy offers a uniquely non-competitive and non-judgmental academic and social environment.  All boarding schools will tout a “family feel,” and most do have that.  Living closely with others and sharing a common experience will lend itself to forming strong relationships — there is a lot to bond over in a boarding school.  What makes Oak Hill Academy unique in this regard?  The short answer is that our students come to us (with or without a learning difference) because they want to grow — academically, socially, and emotionally.

For students who struggle with learning differences such as ADHD or processing issues, a supportive environment where these differences are not seen as “problems” is essential.  For any struggling student, with an LD diagnosis or not, a good environment should be about building up self-esteem and feelings of competency.  Families who choose Oak Hill Academy are looking for that to happen in a non-competitive, nurturing environment (academically and socially).  Oak Hill Academy understands that. It is reflected in our approach and is found in the way our students relate to one another.  This is where Oak Hill Academy stands out in the college prep boarding school world.  Oak Hill Academy is not a “sink or swim” environment.

Study skills coaching, a focus on organizational techniques, and a recognition of the variety of learning styles are woven into our college prep curriculum.  The work is not watered down, but the coaching aspects of our classrooms and dorm life are front and center.  Understanding learning differences, for example, means that we understand that ADD and ADHD are found in individuals of all intelligence levels and capabilities, so we keep high standards and a college prep focus.  Our structured and supportive approach means that we help bright kids become the engaged students they want to be, deep down, despite the challenges of learning differences.

The conversation with the student quoted above continued to reveal a student who has grown in a lot of ways.  The student points out that the small class sizes at Oak Hill Academy, coupled with teachers who are patient and know her well have been a game changer.  ” I have a relationship with my teachers here; they know me.  I trust them when they see me drifting and snap me back.”  Instead of attending separate classes for special education as was the track in her large public school, her relationship with her peers has been a catalyst for growth.  “We all are working on our areas of weakness here, mine just happens to be a focus issue, so I don’t stand out in a negative way.  We share in each other’s successes here no matter what the obstacle we’re working through personally.”

For more discussion on Oak Hill Academy’s approach and your goals for a great boarding school experience that fits your student’s needs, please call our Admission Department at (276) 579-2619, or let’s arrange a good time to connect.

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