Struggling is a part of learning. This is as true during the school years as it is in the workplace. Many times we learn more through our struggles than we would otherwise. In fact, Steven Katz and Lisa Ain Dack write in their book, Intentional Interruption: Breaking Down Learning Barriers to Transform Professional Practice that “the experience of cognitive discomfort is...an essential prerequisite of new learning”. Crystal Downs, K-12 Learning Advocate and head of GAC’s Academic Support program, looks beyond the apparent struggles her students have to the end result--a more resilient, prepared student. This program serves approximately 10% of GAC students through a variety of instructional methods, educational services, and school resources, so the participants can make learning progress, meet curriculum standards, and succeed in school.
GAC has a long history of meeting students where they are, having embraced the idea years ago that there are many kinds of students in a classroom, each with a unique learning profile that reflects his or her particular learning strengths and weaknesses. Says Crystal, “At GAC, we are aware and responsive to the fact that we have a diverse group of thinkers and learners in the classroom who do not process information in one way. We have to be dynamic in our way of teaching so we can meet various needs as we work to become One GAC”.
GAC’s commitment to providing a rigorous and challenging college preparatory environment is not at odds with its desire to support different learning needs. In fact, it’s an advantage to do both. Whereas families might have been split between two different schools, now all family members can attend the same school as GAC offers support for students with mild, diagnosed learning differences from K-12. “The success of Academic Support relies on the process of partnership. We meet with parents to discuss the level of support needed and provide an overview of our program. As a result, parents are able to make informed decisions when seeking the best learning environment for their student”.
“In Academic Support, we help students define what success looks like for them. While letter and number grades have their place, they are not the sole measure of success. Success relies on the mindset of growth, the process of pushing forward in the presence of challenge. Learning is a journey and the routes to the destination of success look different for each student”.
GAC helps students in this journey by exploring how they learn best and using those methods when completing tasks. Whether it be strategies for reading comprehension, the organization of ideas to deliver a clear, concise presentation, or devising a study plan for tests, Academic Support assists students in identifying and using strategies for academic growth.