Autumn Straw, my daughter K's therapist, has been K's bedrock for years now. She appreciates K's humor -- which is vital in forming a relationship with K -- and has gained K's trust so that they can work together on some really hard issues. She is always available to K and to me. K is graduating from Manville this year and saying goodbye to Autumn will be the most difficult part of leaving. Thanks for all you have done for us, Autumn!
The teachers at Manville have to be flexible, patient and creative. Each class has around 8-10 kids, but the kids vary greatly in their learning abilities. A class may have kids in 3 different grades. Reading and math is done in small groups of kids with similar capabilities. Teaching at Manville is not like teaching in a public school. Behavior plans have to be built into the classroom. Disruption is fairly common. Given these challenges, the teachers are great, some better than others, as in any school. Each class is staffed with a teacher, an assistant teacher and a counselor. When a child needs to leave the classroom to regroup, there are clinicians in the hallways they can talk with. In addition to seeking each child weekly, the therapists are available to check in when a child needs some support. Thus the learning at Manville is supported by a team of people; the teachers are part of the team.
While I was buried with homework as a child, my daughter K is not capable of doing it. She struggles with all of the language-based learning disorders. She is too exhausted when she gets home; learning is so hard for her that her brain needs to regroup over night. For a while we tried to do homework -- just a page or two -- but it became a destructive struggle between us and it wasn't worth it. She now does her homework in school. For kids capable of doing homework, the school probably doesn't give enough, but for my kid Manville was flexible and devised a plan that worked for us. Note that the specialists at Manville -- the reading, OT, speech and language and math tutors -- are terrific. K receives reading and math tutoring 3 times per week. The specialists are Manville staff, not independent providers who come to the school. I believe most of the kids receive extra help.
I am not sure what this question means -- it sounds more like a question about a child getting through a medieval boys' boarding school. The kids at Manville learn persistence because no one gives up on them and slowly they begin to believe in themselves. For those of our kids who cannot control their behavior, I suppose it is grit when they learn to do so and they usually do by the time they reach the Upper School. For kids who have the significant challenges our kids have, it takes determination just to get through a day.
Manville cultivates respect in students towards one another and staff by being respectful towards the students. Some of the kids act out aggressively towards staff, and the behavior is met with patience and no negative judgments. Unfortunately kids do have to be restrained; I have seen this done and while it is traumatic to watch, the staff is expertly trained and do it as gently as possible. Kids who cannot calm down are put in an "office," which is just an empty room where they can kick the walls or lie down and take a nap. Staff check in on the student constantly and the child returns to class as soon as possible. In my experience, it is the younger children who have the most difficulty with self-control; the kids get better as they mature, thank goodness. While physical restraint is the least desirable method to control behavior, I honestly don't know what else you would do with a child totally out of control and threatening to hurt him/herself or others. Every incident of restraint is reported to the parents and processed with the administration, the child's therapist and the clinical director.
Some students at Manville are limited in their ability to develop compassion and empathy, but even with these kids Manville does a great job. K has learned to be tolerant of other students' quirks and challenges. Bullying is not tolerated and the school does a terrific job of intervening and working with kids having disputes, which primarily happens via social media (same as all schools these days). The older students at Manville engage in some of the same behaviors as typical middle & high school students. The difference is how quickly and strategically the school staff intervene. The school does not stop taking care of the kids because their behavior takes place off campus.
My child entered kindergarten at Manville and is now graduating at age 17 (Manville ends at 10th grade). Life at home is often difficult given her attachment issues, so Manville quickly became, and remains, her safe haven. In each grade, she formed deep connections with a teachers and counselors. She has had several terrific therapists over the years, and especially loves Autumn, her therapist for the last few years. Manville not only provided K with a safe and positive home, but also provided tremendous support to me as a single parent. They developed home-school behavior plans and taught me to implement them. We do family therapy at Manville with a masterful clinician and it has made a great difference in our relationship. While the kids have a wide range of challenges, Manville does an amazing job of knitting together a cohesive and positive community. The mood at the school, set by the staff, is always upbeat. The staff care deeply about the kids, as do the administrators. K has learned to advocate for herself; she attends periodic academic review meetings and has input into her IEP. I have regularly attended the weekly parent support group meeting (child care provided!) and have heard stories about many other schools and programs from other parents, and they have made me more grateful to have had K at Manville for her entire academic career up to this point. She will be moving on to a new school for 11th and 12th grade and is terribly sad about it. I am too, as I know that no other school will offer us the same amazing amount of support and caring that we have received from Manville.
My son has been a student at Manville for 3 years. We have found the staff to be very compassionate and understanding of his academic and emotional needs. The teachers have helped him want to go to school and take pride in his academics. He is forming friendships for the first time. Manville does a nice job of working the social pragmatics into each day.
Staff is very creative with his tough behaviors and keep us involved in all decisions. This has helped him become more reflective about his actions and proactive for future situations. My son is now able to play a team sport in our community which has bern a real struggle for him. I speak to his therapist regularly and feel that we are working together.
My son's IEP covers all his areas of disability and is very thorough. His Team has helped me with finding community resources for him.
My favorite piece is the Parent Support Group that meets weekly. Child care is provided by staff.
The main thing I can share is that our family and neighbors see a BIG difference and a maturity in him. It has been a challenge raising a child with an emotional disability as well as Sensory Processing Disorder and dyslexia. I feel I now have a child who has learned so much about his emotions and how he expresses them. It has helped to make our family structure more cohesive. I am very thankful to Manville.
I'd like to thank Ms. Gleason and Mr. Wilson for exchanging worried looks within my view when staff were doing the many things I've talked about, though of course they could not break rank. For all I know I may be remembering wrong, they might have thought all was well. But in a world where gaslighting was the norm and nobody even thought anything was wrong (please see the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Study for explanations of this), they were beacons.