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Some kids are neuro-extraordinary, so it’s no wonder it takes an extraordinary school to match them. This is what I discovered when I stepped into The Magnolia School as an Art Specialist. Magnolia caters to both neuro-typical and what I call “Spectrum-Smart” or a-typical learners. Among a diverse array of students’ thinking styles, gifts and challenges, Magnolia creates a tight-knit community for kids who don’t fit the typical school model.
I immediately loved the energy I felt at Magnolia. There is a unity of purpose in this learning community. I could see it in the genuine smiles of Heads of School, Therapists and Teachers I met in passing. Staff and students care for each other, respond to each other quickly, and make way for creative and consistent problem solving to meet the unique needs of the students.
Many kids in this school experience neurological, emotional or sensory challenges. Research is proving that a high percentage of kids in this category are outstanding visual processors. Which generally makes them rea-aally good at art. And yes, it is super fun to design projects for these artistic whiz kids to show off their brilliance. Also rewarding were those moments when I saw the dogged effort, teamwork and empathy displayed by kids who have to work extremely hard to operate in routines or behaviors that come easily to neuro-typical kids.
What makes The Magnolia School a future-ready approach to my mind? Put simply, I see Magnolia as a school fueled by courageous love. I say this after months of watching staff and students in action. The school employs brilliant ABA methods, research-driven and individualized plans for students, and the latest therapeutic strategies. But what moves me, as a visiting teacher, parent of a sensory-challenged kid, and observer, is the kindness displayed at the school. There is love for kids who are “special,” “brilliant,” and “challenging.” There is faith in these kids’ ability to contribute to our world in profound ways, if only someone cares enough to walk alongside them. The Magnolia School is that someone.