Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 40th year for Lakeside School. The landscape of school has changed so much in all of this time. Our largest school has moved from being a school for students who were in the juvenile justice system or child welfare to a diploma-granting school that serves over 25 area school districts. Our student population is now 81% special education, and the needs of our students have become far more complex than when we first started. The challenges presented to our staff are quite significant, but they have continually been diligent to make sure our students receive what they need to be personally and academically successful.
Relationships contribute to student success
The most prominent (and best part) of our school are the relationships that get established between our students and our staff.
Our students come to us with a strong sense of incapability, of lacking what is necessary to succeed in school, or sometimes in life. Because they have become convinced they will not be able to succeed, they arrive full of distrust and anger, or they can be withdrawn or depressed. Add that these students possess some learning issues in conjunction to negative emotions, and the journey to change their mindset as well as work to effect positive change grows quite difficult.
Our staff is deeply committed to building strong relationships with our students.
The Lakeside staff make sure our students are welcomed to their first day of school in spite of any challenges. It is a powerful aspect of our school in building healthy and supportive relationships with our students.
Additionally, we are also very aware many of our students are dysregulated, which means they do not know how to control their emotions, behavior, and most certainly their performance. The dysregulation shows us some students have significant obstacles within their own brains that need to be addressed…and we do address them.
Lakeside is strategically and purposefully brain-based in our approach.
In other words, we attempt to make school a place of calm and strategy. We fill the day with many options for students to be learn to regulate their brain states, to optimize their ability to create healthy relationship, which consequently, provides them new capabilities to learn and grow.
It is why we invest in facility dogs to greet our students, music in our hallways to provide calming and regulating beats per minute, fidgets for students to reduce stress, a walking track to let off some anxiety or anger, rocking chairs in classrooms, safe places to go, neuro-feedback, drumming and so much more.
We are striving to re-create school to be a place where there is a welcoming entrance with daily interactions that are calming, regulating, as well as academically challenging, and where relationships are all focused at helping our students want to succeed.
I really hope all schools, no matter what type of students they serve, will strive to make a statement to their students: we are here to help you find success in your mindset, your capacity, your safety, your school work, your personal relationships and your growth and development.
This holistic approach is what I believe our students need most.
I hope that as millions of students walk into school for the first time this year that they will sense a welcoming spirit, matched by an understanding that regulation is essential to a their ability to learn and find the comprehensive success we so want them to have.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network