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Academics & Arts

Learning Strategies

Laurel students are active learners with a high level of commitment to their studies and the ability to apply their best efforts within the classroom and beyond. The school is committed to supporting each student’s academic growth and healthy social development.
Laurel teachers recognize that students vary in their learning profiles, interests and readiness.

In order to reach all learners, our teachers instruct using multiple modalities and adjust how and what they teach so that each student thrives. At all grade levels, opportunities for support and enrichment occur each day. Morning meetings, advisories, assemblies, class discussions, and individual and small-group instruction help students to develop metacognitive skills and self-confidence. In order to stretch each student’s learning, teachers and learning specialists provide accommodations, interventions and enrichment when needed.

List of 5 items.

  • Learning & Study Support

    The Learning Enhancement Team includes learning specialists, psychologists, teachers and administrators. Learning Enhancement team members support students in a variety of ways. Learning specialists and teachers work with individual students and small groups outside of the classroom, and also help students within the classroom setting. The Learning Enhancement team collaborates with content-area and specialist teachers and parents so that skills can be practiced and reinforced across settings.

    The Learning Enhancement Team meets regularly with grade-level teachers. When concerns are raised about a child’s academic progress, a Learning Enhancement team member contacts teachers and parents to exchange information and determine next steps. Often, additional data is gathered through classroom observations, parent and teacher questionnaires, and/or academic screening measures. Team members share information with parents and discuss recommendations, which might include short-term interventions provided by the classroom teacher and/or learning specialist, progress-monitoring screenings, and/or further testing or consultation with community professionals.

    It is assumed that every student who is enrolled at Laurel School is able to meet the school's academic expectations. Therefore, we will make reasonable accommodations, but do not change the academic standards for girls on learning or behavior plans.
  • Psychological Support

    The psychologists offer the following services to support the academic and personal growth of Laurel students:
    • Brief individual counseling, with the consent of the parent or guardian, to assist with school adjustment or to support the efforts of an outside therapist
    • Emergency intervention with an individual or group of students as the need arises
    • Small-group or classroom work to support healthy personal growth and development
    • Interpretation of outside evaluations for implementation within the school
    • Observation of specific students, with the consent of the parent or guardian
    • Maintenance of confidential individual testing records
    • Communication with outside professionals to support the progress of students within the school
    • Consultation and resource sharing with faculty, staff and parents to support the growth and development of the students
  • Standardized Testing

    Standardized testing takes place at various times throughout a student’s career. If a student has a documented disability and an accommodation plan at Laurel, then the learning specialist or in-house psychologist will discuss testing accommodations with parents.
  • Individual Testing

    The psychologists administer limited, individual testing, with the written consent of the parent or guardian, when specific information will assist with academic planning. Tests are selected in accordance with the needs of the individual student.

    An outside referral will be recommended if a more extensive assessment is warranted. Individual psychological/educational assessments can be arranged through the Shaker Heights City School District or through a psychologist in private practice. To avoid conflicts of interest, Laurel School psychologists do not evaluate students for diagnostic purposes; therefore, full evaluations must be conducted by an outside specialist.
  • Tutoring

    When a student requires academic support beyond that which Laurel provides, a Learning Enhancement Team member may suggest that the family hire a tutor to work with their daughter. This financial arrangement is between the parents and the tutor, but if the student has time during the school day to meet with her tutor, this can be arranged after the tutor has passed a personnel screening.

    If parents wish to hire a Laurel teacher to tutor their daughter, faculty guidelines state that Laurel classroom teachers are not permitted to tutor for financial compensation any student currently in their classes or, during the summer, any student in the class she/he has just finished teaching.

Students with Learning Differences

In accordance with best practice as set forth by the National Association of Independent Schools, Laurel School supports students with learning differences in the following ways:
  • By allowing a qualified individual with a disability to participate in its program;
  • By refraining from imposing nonessential eligibility criteria that screen out individuals with disabilities from participation;
  • By making reasonable modifications to policies, procedures, and practices as necessary in order for the student to have equal access to school programs, unless such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the school programs;
  • By ensuring effective communication with students with disabilities and their families, to the extent such provision fundamentally does not alter services offered and/or does not result in an undue burden.
Laurel faculty and staff support students who already have a diagnosis that impacts learning and students who are currently exhibiting academic difficulties. The Learning Enhancement specialists and psychologists collaborate with administrators, teachers, and parents to make sure needs and concerns are addressed in a timely manner. Students with documented learning-related diagnoses receive appropriate accommodations and learning support. In rare instances, it may become apparent that Laurel School is not the best fit for a student. In such cases, administrators and Learning Enhancement members endeavor to work with families to help in the transition to another school.

Storage of Records

Information about storage of Learning Enhancement/counseling records is adapted from The National Association of School Psychologists Principles for Professional Ethics, 2010.

Psychologists and members of the Learning Enhancement team maintain records that include only documented and relevant information from reliable sources. Such information may include learning plans, assessment results, outside evaluations, and/or counseling notes.

Psychologists and members of the Learning Enhancement team ensure that parents have appropriate access to their children’s records.
  • Parents have a right to access any and all information that is used to make decisions about their child.
  • Psychologists and members of the Learning Enhancement team respect the rights of parents to inspect, but not necessarily to copy, their child’s answers to school psychological test questions.
To the extent that they can control, psychologists and members of the Learning Enhancement team:
  • Ensure that only school personnel who have a legitimate educational interest in a student are given access to the student’s Learning Enhancement/counseling records without prior parent permission
  • Protect electronic files from unauthorized release or modification (e.g., by using passwords and restricted network access)
Psychologists and members of the Learning Enhancement team work to establish policies regarding the storage and disposal of Learning Enhancement/counseling records that are consistent with the law and best practices. To this aim:
  • Learning Enhancement/counseling records are stored in a location that is only accessible to relevant faculty members.
  • Learning Enhancement/counseling records are stored in a locked filing cabinet for twelve years following the last date of contact with the student/family.
Learning Strategies Faculty

List of 7 members.

  • Photo of Grace Willer

    Grace Willer 

    Director of Learning Strategies
  • Photo of Ilissa Pearlman

    Ilissa Pearlman 

    In-House Psychologist
  • Photo of Elana Glasner

    Elana Glasner 

    Mathematics Teacher, Middle School; Learning Enhancement Coordinator
  • Photo of Patricia Harpring

    Patricia Harpring 

    Learning Specialist; Testing Coordinator
  • Photo of James Aguilar

    James Aguilar 

    Laurel@Butler Teacher
  • Photo of Karen Yusko

    Karen Yusko 

    Teacher, Laurel@Butler
  • Photo of NaNetta Hullum

    NaNetta Hullum 

    School Counselor
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