Landmark College Parent Chat – November 27, 2018

Hello and welcome to our webcast. I’m here from Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. My name is Marc DiPietro, I’m the marketing and communications
director at Landmark College and tonight I have five guests who know quite a
bit about the College because they are parents of current or former Landmark
College students. A little brief history of the college, if you’re
not too familiar with it, we were founded in 1985, the first college for
students with learning differences including dyslexia, ADHD, autism, executive
function challenges and other LDs and our students take many different paths
at Landmark. Many of them start right out of high school, some of them are at
another college and they decide to transfer to Landmark for a short term
what we call a bridge experience, so they can gain some skills and some strategies
for returning to their home college. Some are here for a bachelor’s degree or an
associates degree. In fact in January our spring semester starts and
that’s when a lot of our students come in from other colleges, they transfer
here specifically for a bridge semester or bridge experience, because
sometimes it’s more than one semester. And our guests tonight represent many of
those different paths, so I’m gonna introduce them in just a moment and I
want to remind the viewers that you can text us questions at any time by using
the chat box on PlatformQ or if you’re watching on Facebook live you can just
post a question in the comment section. So I am going to turn it over to our
first guest: Laura Cashin who joins us from San
Francisco, California. Laura’s son Jackson earned his associate
degree from Landmark in, I believe, 2016 or 2017 and is now studying at the
University of Denver. Jackson was also my intern for a semester at
marketing communications department, so Laura, I will turn it over to you. Laura Cashin: Thanks, Mike. Hi
everybody my name is Laura Cashin and my son Jackson Hunter, as Mark said,
attended Landmark from 2014 through the spring of 2017. He got his associates
degree in the winter of 2016 and then he decided to stay one more semester so
that he could transfer in the fall rather than transferring in the wintertime. He stayed a total of three full years and walked away with
his associate’s degree and a whole toolbox full of skills that helped make his
transition into University of Denver much easier for him. To give you a
little bit of background on Jackson Jackson has a variety of
language processing skills, auditory processing disorder, had language delay,
very early on was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, slow processing
speed so anything that involves language processing comes at a much slower pace
for him. And then to further complicate matters he’s also a person who stutters,
which somehow is connected, although it’s got to because it’s a
neurological condition like a lot of this stuff but it’s not really clear how,
it’s connected but it all intersects. So for him you wouldn’t say he was a
classic dyslexic learner but a lot of the strategies that help with classic diagnosis of dyslexia are very
helpful for him as well. He’s always been a kid that learned very early that having relationships with his
teachers gets him a long way, so being in small class sizes is very helpful for
him. He moved to a school on the San Francisco peninsula that specializes in teaching dyslexic
learners when he was in middle school, which we always joke is the best college
money we ever spent because it really helped teach him a lot of the strategies
that he needed. He went to a public charter high school in San Francisco
that had fairly small class sizes, it really was helpful for him. When it
came time for him to look at colleges he really wanted to go away and he wanted
to have a college experience that was not in his backyard, he wanted to get away from that. He wanted to live in a dorm and he didn’t want to go to a [junior college] and build up but he also knew he wasn’t ready for a full-on
four-year university and so we were looking at a lot of different options, but between his junior and senior year of high school he
went to Landmark and he did there three year their three year summer
program where high school students could go live in the dorms and take a couple
classes and see what it’s like. And he came back and he’s like “these people
know how to teach me!” And so he applied to some other schools that had strong
learning support programs, but he was the one that decided that he wanted to go
Landmark and we were like “are you sure? It’s really hard to get to Vermont from San
Francisco, it is a trek.” But that was what he wanted to do. And we’re like “are you sure? Putney is a very small town.” He lives in
San Francisco, he’s used to a big city, and he’s like, “well I don’t have to be
there forever.” And he was there for three years and
he had a really great experience, it really helped him to mature and build
his skills, have that way experience that he wanted and from the standpoint of
me and my husband, we felt and still feel like having the experience of
living away from home is in many ways as, if not more, important as the
educational experience, because learning those independent living skills are
really important and if our kid wanted to go 3,000 miles away, that was where we
wanted him to be; but we wanted him to be in a place where he was going to be
successful and not crash and burn. The fact that he wanted to go Landmark
made it an easy decision for us. So he went to Landmark, it took him a while to warm up because he has some challenges socially, primarily because of his communication
challenges and his stuttering, because that’s a whole other super
social emotional complication for young people and adults who stutter. He
didn’t fully take advantage of all of the resources at Landmark, and as parents
we just had to sit back and gently encourage, but stay out of it because
that’s what you do when your kids go to college; you don’t get to run their lives.
But he did solidify a lot of strategies and he made friends, and he was ready to
move on to a larger school when he was ready to transfer. He
moved to University of Denver and he was totally ready to embrace all of the
learning support programs that they have there, because the University of Denver
has a really strong learning support program. And when he transferred to the
University of Denver, any shame or reluctance or discomfort with figuring
out how to take advantage of accommodations, or working
with the learning support program, or working with tutors, he’s mature enough
now to just to go get what he needs and ask for what he needs in the University of
Denver. That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had challenges in the transition,
but Landmark has taught him that you just have to ask for what you need. That’s really made a huge difference in the transition and I don’t
think he would have been ready to do that if he had made the move to a more traditional four-year university right off the bat. So, that’s
my quick overview. Thanks. Mark DiPietro: Thanks, Laura. And as I mentioned at the start, Jackson
did a January term internship with the marketing communications office and took
advantage of the career and internship training that Landmark
does as well and he did a wonderful job, he really
blossomed and learned some of those basic workplace skills.
It was really nice to see him come to life in that way. So, I’m going to
introduce our second guest who is Oliver Spencer.
Oliver is joining us from Concord, New Hampshire and his son Clay came to
Landmark for two semesters and is now studying at Gettysburg College. Hi, Oliver,
thanks for being here tonight. Oliver Spencer: Hi, everybody. Yeah so we’re up here in lovely snowy Concord. Clay went [to Landmark] for one year
and it was an amazing experience for him. His entire high school four years were
horrible. He’s a smart kid, he can do the work, but we clearly knew there
was something wrong. We couldn’t get the school to test him for anything and it
was absolutely miserable, particularly his last two years. In fact,
I think he cut more classes his senior year than he went to. He dropped
wrestling, he had been a varsity wrestler all three of his four years and it was
really frustrating for both my wife and I. He barely
crossed the finish line to graduate, and I really do mean barely graduate. We looked for other
things for him to do he tried to do a [post-graduate] year at a prep school and that was a
complete failure, they did not have the services even though they
promised it and they were assured they could do it. But we had Clay tested
finally and it turned out that he did have a learning disability. He had a
processing disorder and it just meant that he couldn’t sit in class and he
didn’t want to take any medication or anything like that to solve it, and so it
was really really a challenge. One of the folks who he worked was the one who recommended
Landmark. Clay went there and he was very eager
to go there and immediately jumped in and had a very successful time there. He made the soccer team there. He was quite a good soccer player there. He’d always been a good soccer player, but even at
the high school he played at unless you were there
playing soccer 365 days a year they won’t let you do it. So he got to go back
and play soccer. He walked on to the basketball team and he played basketball,
which was hilarious because he had never played basketball before; and he
wasn’t bad, he’s just a very good athlete. And the best thing about it was he really figured out how to
study, how to get work done. I would say that the things I was so impressed with
he signed off on all social media his first semester, he had a lock box for
his cell phone, he turned it off, he would look at it maybe once
a day sometimes not even once a day. His advisor was absolutely
phenomenal and he did really well. He had I think he had a 3.98 his first semester
and then his second semester he had a 4.0 and that’s what made him make the
decision to transfer and he ended up applying to Gettysburg and Notre Dame. He got into Gettysburg and he’s there right now.
It’s been tough, I won’t say it’s been a completely thing and where he may
have stumbled a little bit at Gettysburg initially was because he didn’t follow
the same process that I think Landmark had taught him, and we had a lot of
conversations in September and October about it. Clay is a math major and it
was a real challenge, he was really frustrated because he had real gaps
in his math knowledge, even though he was a star math guy at Landmark and
he really did well, there was just some gaps that he just didn’t have. So when he
got to Gettysburg and tried to get into very high high level math there were
gaps, it wasn’t because he couldn’t do the work, he just had gaps it took a
while. He said he’s going to declare a
major in economics and then he’s also going to do a major also in German, which
I thought was amazing because I don’t think he really loved German when
he was at Concord High over here, and he really loves that. This summer he’s potentially thinking of doing an internship in Germany and he’s
really thriving at Gettysburg. It took a little while, because what Landmark did
was the teachers and the administration was so available for him and
it isn’t about a thousand tutors and a
thousand people helping you, it’s all about teaching you the path and teaching
you the way and giving you the tools for your tool kit to move along and I kept on reminding Clay when he had frustrations all fall: just go back to
what it was made you successful at Landmark. Once he realized that he did well. He was
home this weekend for Thanksgiving and he was in great
spirits and he brought a buddy home and he just seems to be really enjoying
school. And I can tell you the four years in high school, he hated school, absolutely hated school and it was a real challenge so we were very excited about it. My youngest son actually did the summer
program for high school and he did very well there, and I don’t know he may consider doing a year at Landmark just because he may very well need to do that, too. That’s what I have, thanks. Mark DiPietro: Thanks, Oliver. I got to know Clay
a little bit when he was here for a short time, just a year, and I was always
impressed by how interested he was in so many things as you said he’s you
know he’s great at math but he is also a very good writer and he, you know,
shared some of the stuff he wrote and some of the things he was interested in.
He was into athletics as you mentioned and you know he’s a great
example of taking advantage of the supports and the faculty support and the
academic support and also the social stuff and the athletic stuff that
happens here on campus. Just a reminder to anyone watching you
can send us your questions by either if you’re on Facebook you can type them in
the comments box, if you are on PlatformQ College Week Live you can type them at
the bottom of your screen I believe, and we will address questions at the end of
the the webcast. So, my next guest is Padma Ramakrishna and she joins us
tonight from Saratoga, California. Padma’s son Ryan is currently a Landmark
student and he’s on track to earn a bachelor’s degree. Hi Padma! Padma Ramakrishna:
Thanks Mark, thanks for the opportunity to share my experience about Landmark. So as Mark mentioned, my son Ryan is in the liberal studies program right now. He was diagnosed with ADHD
learning difficulties in third grade after some extensive testing. He was
having some ongoing struggles early in elementary school and it kind of gave us
some sense of where these struggles are coming from. He was, at that time, in a
very highly academically focused school district, so my husband and I
decided he needed to get out of that environment and be in a school
that had smaller class sizes, offered resources for LD, assistive technology, and all that stuff. He started at the middle school then he went to high school and high school turned out to be quite a bit of a struggle and that was primarily a result of Ryan’s
reluctance to seek help or accept the school resources. We couldn’t convince
him to be more proactive and he also further compounded the problem by
refusing to take medications for his ADHD. His school had a visit from Sydney Ruff, one of the admissions folks at Landmark College and I guess Ryan had gone in and
introduced himself, he had given them our address, we were starting to
receive mailings from Landmark College and that was the first time that I
actually realized that there was a college that can help kids with learning
differences, but it was also obvious to us that Ryan was just never ready for
college at that point. He didn’t seem to have the slightest bit of motivation, he
wasn’t willing to find any options for himself he wasn’t gonna consider
anything that we were offering him. I just want to mention at this point that
he’s also an avid skateboarder and my husband talked him about getting him
into programs to hone in on his skateboarding skills but that wasn’t
going anywhere either, so we had to find a way to get him into college. Landmark
seemed like a great option we just didn’t know how to get him there. It was about it was two months before his graduation I had this frantic idea that
he was going to stay home with us, which was fairly daunting. I just wanted him out of
the house doing something that was more meaningful. I researched gap programs
we found an unpaid work internship program in Worcester, Massachusetts and
that was something that appeared to be a good stepping stone for him to a) get out
of the house and b) sort of get a sense of the East
Coast to see if that’s an option he would like. So, with a lot of
encouragement from us and his cousin, who lives in Boston, he decided to take
the leap to Worcester and went and enjoyed the internship program. By
the time he entered the second semester of that program he seemed to have gotten
a good sense of independence he was seeming to be a little bit more
self-confident and at that point he talked to my husband about
possibly looking into Landmark College. By then Landmark College was in
in closer proximity, geographically speaking, and so he and my
my husband went and visited the college, connected with Sydney Ruff again, he went
to the Open House and he had a very good visit. He decided that he was
going to actually fill out the application on site and, much to this
relief, he didn’t have to have SAT scores and ACT and all that stuff and he was
super excited to be admitted and felt like he was all ready to start on the
program; there was suddenly a good level of enthusiasm, that was back in the fall
of 2015. One of the things that Landmark did was they had all the testing and all the material on various
difficulties, but they encouraged him to take non-credit courses just to
kind of reacclimate him to school. They reinforced learning strategies and,
specifically in Ryan’s case, reading comprehension, fluency, writing skills
and combine all that with his executive function skills seemed to give
a really good start for him. I just felt like that by transition needed to
happen and Landmark was able to provide that first semester of
strength building to make sure that he did okay after that. He registered for credit courses starting the second semester on.
He was starting to have some trouble with his adviser at that point, and he was
actually able to self advocate for himself and changed his academic adviser, with whom he had an absolutely fantastic relationship. I
want to say at this point that you know even in high school is really difficult
for us to connect with teachers and sort of get a sense was sense of what
was going on, what direction we needed to take on the homefront, how could we encourage this kid to kind of get more motivated about doing
better. At Landmark, what I found to be incredibly helpful was that
we could communicate with the academic advisers, they were
available by email, by phone, we’ve even done conference calls, we could sit and talk and get a sense of what was happening, and being 3,000 miles away it
just seems so important to know and particularly when we got
academic warnings when Ryan was either not getting just work done on time,
although there were other difficulties that were happening, it was great to be able to connect with the academic adviser and get to see what was going on. Ryan was able to talk to
her and I just found that to be extremely valuable and it was clear that
Ryan was able to lean on her advice and for guidance and support. So, as he continued on there were definitely ups and downs, but he managed to keep up
and completed his requirements, he graduated this past summer with an [associate’s in arts] degree, and on the eve of the graduation he was asked to speak in front of a
crowd of about a hundred students and parents he goes up there and he
announces I’m going to go back to Landmark College for my undergraduate degree. To me as a parent, that self-confidence and the self assurance
that he displayed was a testament to what a Landmark had done for
him, how he had transformed him from where he was where classroom
learning was like a nightmare and now him deciding that he wanted to
go into an undergraduate program. He has started that this past fall, and he does
want to consider transferring out to colleges, he does want to come back to
California, but we’ve noticed he brings up the topic
but at the end of the bridge he’s always wanting to go back to Landmark and
I feel that there’s a sense of comfort, there’s a sense that he feels like he’d be most successful over there. I want to wrap up by saying that my
husband and I always talk about Ryan’s academic trajectory being sort of a nonlinear path and if I were to provide some sort of an analogy, he’s kind of like a trapeze artist he can swing high up there but
then he’s going to have these falls and I anticipate that he’ll have a few more
of those and I consider Landmark as a safety net, kind of
catches him, props him up, says you can do it, and makes him believe in himself
and he picks it up and he goes on. I think that Ryan himself has
recognized that Landmark has been able to bring that out in him and for that I’m definitely pretty grateful for Landmark to have given Ryan that
opportunity to show that he can do it. Thank you. Mark DiPietro: Thank you, Padma. Ryan is also
a campus ambassador now which is a wonderful thing for students to actually
give tours and talk to other prospective students and families and it’s really
nice to see him talking about his experiences in that way. Remember, viewers, if you are watching us on Facebook live send us questions
through the comments box, if you’re watching us on PlatformQ College Week
Live type us a question and after the presentations we’ll try to answer as
many questions as we can. My next guest is Rich LaBombard, who joins us from
Townsend, Massachusetts. Rich’s daughter Katie is a current
student at Landmark College and I have to say that last fall when she
was a she was welcoming new students at our convocation, she gave one of the best
convocation welcoming speeches I’ve heard, so I was very happy that her dad
wanted to join us tonight. Hi, Rich. Rich: Hi, Mark, thank you. It’s certainly a pleasure to be here and speak with everybody and also to speak about Katie. And I was going to mention that convocation speech at the end, but two years ago when I brought Katie there
and went to her convocation speech for the opening I whispered to her I said
“what’s the convocation ceremony” because we really didn’t know, so her transformation
has been pretty remarkable because two years later she was giving the
convocation speech, but let me start back at the beginning when Katie
was going through elementary school, and I’ve also been struck by how many of
these stories parallel exactly the same. Elementary school became struggle, my
wife had a special ed background, degrees, and she jumped all over it; she worked with
the teachers, we had very strong IEP programs in place throughout Katie’s
elementary school, but to be honest with you, fifth, sixth, seventh grade: she hated it,
passionately hated, and my wife and I discussed homeschooling her, we just didn’t
know what the right answer would be. My wife was very concerned that, as she
said, the spark of life that’s in Katie, she did not want to see that go out, she
was just miserable in grade school. She was able to actually get pretty good
grades, but she hated it and she was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, some
executive function issues, and so as she progressed through high school, it was more
the same and what I found and I’m not sure it’s the same everywhere, but for us the
kids that are in special ed programs are in smaller rooms there
there’s sort of they’re not in the mainstream, and and they know it and it
was just an experience where you grit your teeth and get through. The teachers that
we worked with were wonderful, it just seems to be the nature of the system, at
least in our experience. Also with Katie, the woman who did her neuro-psych
evaluation says she her diagnosis is sort of like slicing smoke: her memory
tests at times very poorly, but she’s a walking encyclopedia of Harry Potter
trivia, that’s all strictly memorization of formulas and things that aren’t even
actual words, but that she could memorize. It was kind of a little bit
of all over the place, so as as we were going through high school the question
became “what’s next” and my wife again with her special ed background, jumped
into this like she did all over everything and was talking to me about
Landmark in Putney, Vermont. I never heard of Landmark and I had never
heard of Putney. We arranged to do a couple of tours up there, which we did, and I
remember I looked over at Katie a few times and she looked like
she was sort of just shell-shocked. She was, I think,
overwhelmed, overloaded trying to take it all in and thinking that she could
possibly be living up here and going to school. I think it was just too much for
her to take in at the time. It was shortly after that, unfortunately we lost
my wife to cancer so that was before Katie and her sister’s graduation from
high school, so we after losing my wife, the kids were able to graduate, we had
the summer, and then it was time to transition both of my daughters to
different schools. So to focus on Katie, I have to be honest with you as a parent
from parents’ perspective, as wonderful as she is – just a fun-loving
engaging creative artistic young lady – but I could not see her on her own I
just couldn’t I joke with her
about this so it’s okay to say it, but I said I didn’t think she’d remember to
brush your teeth, to clean her room, to take a shower, to get to class on time, I
thought she’s not going to be able to do it, but here we are we felt good about
the Landmark experience getting started, getting the transition
up there, so it seemed like we’re gonna go with this plan and we’re gonna see
what happens. and I took her up for the transition weekend and got her room set
up, and the plan was I was going to spend the night at a local hotel and then come
back in the next morning and check on her, which I did, but eventually it
was time for me to leave and as a parent, I gotta tell you it was it was upsetting
trying to act like it’s no, but throughout that entire weekend and leading
up to it I was pretty much a ball of stress; and I was trying to hide it
because I was feeling it for her. That first night, Landmark was offering
a number of lectures for the students to attend and I don’t recall what they were
but they were academic type lectures and she said she wanted to go
and I said “well okay let me know. I’ll be home, when I get home tonight send me a message.” So she started attending the lectures, she sounded great
and it’s like this miraculous, the following day
she called me I was I was driving and she needed a password, I forget what it
was for, but she couldn’t remember it, she didn’t know where she put it
and I had it at home. I said “look, I’m in the car right now, I’ll be here for a
while, but when I get home I’ll send it to you.” I remember her saying “dad, don’t
worry about it. There’s people here I can ask I’ll figure it out.” And I thought she’s not gonna figure out, but an hour later she called me she said she did she had it and that was kind of how
it went for her the whole time. She just took off, took the ball, and ran,
and there was a couple of a couple of things came up, a couple of the
other earlier presenters mentioned self-advocate and she did the same she there
was one particular instructor that seemed to rub her the wrong way for
whatever reason and she switched to a different
professor at a different time slot and it worked out great, she just felt that
the other professor was a better fit for her personality and her learning style. At that point I didn’t think she really knew she had learning style, but she’s
figured it out really quick. So when
you talk about the opportunities that Landmark offers to these students, Katie
is a movie fanatic she got an opportunity to do a weekly
radio show with a co-host, they call this “Cinema Magic” and they
reviewed movies for an hour to an hour and a half every week on the college radio
station, it was an app on your phone, you could listen to it at home. I had
a great time listening to it and I just really could not believe that my
daughter was articulately expressing herself and putting the research into
these movies and she just did a great great job.
And she won an award from college as the best DJ for the year, she won an
award for the best to new employee, she’s holding down a number of jobs on campus;
she was loving it, she was making a little bit of money. It was like this was
the child I worried about could she brush her teeth,
yeah I guess she could. We talked recently about where she goes after this and
one of the things that she’s cites as the reasons for her success there is the
almost constant availability to her professors. When she wants to meet with them
one-on-one, it’s easy to schedule, easy to do it’s kept her on track, anything that she’s
not clear about it’s it’s taken care of, but she’s treated like an adult not
like a child. She’s been on the Dean’s List every semester. She graduates in two
weeks, December 15th, with her associate’s. The plan
right now, we’re hoping that she’ll continue on to work
on her bachelors, we’re trying to work that out. I also want to point out that the
Landmark team, there was a couple of instances over the last two years I
think where the staff that Landmark had to communicate with parents because
there were a couple of issues, somebody had written some threats on a whiteboard in
a room; Vermont State Police were called in, the communications of the parents was
clear and quick. A couple of students unfortunately were expelled but a couple
of situations like that, but it’s very appreciated that the Landmark staff
communicated it as effectively with the parents as they did. At the
end of the day our children that are up there, but we need to know they’re
safe and I’ve never had any issues or any doubts at all that they are. A couple of
closing thoughts here: two years has gone by incredibly fast, again from wondering
if she was going to brush her teeth and now we’re planning what happens after
this December, what do we do. She’d like to continue at Landmark, I’d like to
build on this success and have her stay, so we’re trying to work that out as well,
but to wrap this up again we didn’t know what a convocation ceremony was and she
gave wonderful speech, thank you for that mark, which is still
available as I understand it on the Landmark website and you can hear it
from Katie’s perspective as well. Landmark was basically an answer to a
prayer; we didn’t know what would be the best fit for her. And one final
thought, I went to a number of college finance seminars and one of the women
giving one of them said “what’s the best school for your child? it’s not
necessarily what’s the most you can afford, but where will your child thrive” and
Katie has thrived. So, Mark, thank you very much. Mark DiPietro: Thank you, Rich. and yes the Katie’s speech is available
on our website and I am happy to share a link with anyone who would like to see
it. In fact, anyone who has questions or comments after tonight’s webcast who
would like to get in touch with us, please feel free to email me directly at
[email protected] or [email protected] either one of those will get to me, my name is a little harder to
spell though so feel free to use marketing. Our final guest tonight is
Robin Black and she joins us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I talked a
little bit at the beginning about how Landmark has evolved over the years and
we started in 1985 really as a transitional college for students who
needed to boost their skills and then go on to someplace else and now, as
I mentioned, we have bachelors degrees on associate’s degrees, so one of our
bachelors degrees that was added three years ago is a Bachelor of
Arts in studio art; Robin’s daughter, Annie, is one of our first students in
that program. Robin, I’ll turn it over to you. Robin: I just want to say as others have that it’s just a delight to be here and to hear other your people’s stories and share
a little bit about Annie’s experience at Landmark. I’m gonna start a bit
backwards, because we were just up there a few weeks ago for parents weekend, and
as we left I turned to my husband and I said “if only someone had been able to
tell us 15 years ago, ten years ago that we would get to this moment, it would
have saved us so much worry and so much pain” and you know I get tears in my eyes
saying it because, as with many parents who have children with special needs or
challenges, there are just those moments of terrible despair and worry and
questions about why your child has to be bullied or be the one with the grade
that makes them unhappy or you know just whatever issue it is. And I can honestly
say that Annie’s now it’ll be almost five years at Landmark, so it’s been a
long journey, but she has changed tremendously. When I go back to the first
day we took her there for a visit and a tour and the young woman who was
giving us the tour, a student, I now know a campus ambassador, at the time was
doing a great job and telling us about the issues she’d overcome and telling us
about the school and I said to Annie at the time you know “maybe one day you’ll
do this,” and she just turned to me and said “I’m not that kind of kid, I’m not
gonna do that. I’m not outgoing like that.” Four years later, she’s a campus
ambassador, she’s interned in the social pragmatics program,
she’s been on two of the study abroad trips, one to New Zealand one to Costa
Rica, and these are all things that we just had no concept she could possibly
accomplish as a young person. And so the question is “what did Landmark do” and I
think the answer is a combination of building on her strengths. I mean I
really think that as with many young people, much of her education to that
point had been hearing what she couldn’t do well and her particular struggles are
in language, and also in communication and social cues, and getting along with
other kids was always a challenge and from the beginning it has been
a build-on-strength thing and she’s just responded to that. She also had a
fabulous adviser, she now has another fabulous adviser, she has learned to
self-advocate, she’s learned to ask for help when she needs it. What I’ll say
about the studio arts program is Annie got her associate’s a couple years ago
and decided she wanted to stay for a bachelor’s and it was just as the studio
arts program was starting up, and Annie also has some visual impairments and
there was real question about whether she could succeed in that program; and once again the people in charge and the teachers she has have all
just worked with her and made it into an extremely positive
experience. I think any school can be a better or worse match for any given
young person, but I have to say I would do this again like a shot. I just think
that Landmark provides absolutely the best of what you can ask for for
individual attention. And another parent spoke about when there are crises,
one of the things that was really good for us was along the way she didn’t have
that kind of smooth transition where you get there in the next day she’s fine, it
was months actually before she was really settled in there and every time
there was what her mother thought was a crisis, which may or may not actually
have been a crisis, it was always very easy to get somebody on staff or in the
administration to speak to us, pretty much right away and help us work
it out, and I wouldn’t say discourage our involvement, but kind of help us trust
that between them they and she could work on it. I can echo what other
parents have said which is that she’s now 23, at 23 she’s so much more
independent and confident and capable and really will be able to go out in the
world and work and have meaningful employment, which is something we never
thought. We were also in the “will she even be able to brush her teeth” category. I’m hoping there are questions because I’d love to answer
some so I’ll just leave it there. Mark: Thank you, Robin. These are all great
stories and we’re getting some really nice feedback and questions on our
Facebook page and something really cool is happening over there to where people
are asking questions and some of our alumni are actually signed in and
they’re answering the questions for us, which shows a really nice level of
engagement from our alumni and how much the College has meant to them. I do have a question that I’m not sure which one of you would like to
answer or if more than one of you would like to answer, but we have a question
about residential life at Landmark and what it’s like. That’s one of the big
things we talk about is that we have comprehensive support, that it’s a
living-learning model and maybe one of you could talk a little bit about how
your student has experienced that. Oliver: This is Oliver. What I’d say is you know Clay
and his first roommate you know they got along, but they were both kind of
pigs. They just weren’t clean and Clay really wanted
to thrive and so he and his roommate tried to work at it. His roommate
didn’t succeed as well as Clay did and that I think that helped Clay quite a
bit and so what I see the reason I bring this up is because now this year where
he is a Gettysburg, he really recognizes that and he had a lot
of conversations with the RAs and they were very, very
supportive of that and and he liked that. As far as the other part of
the residential life, the food I mean, it’s institutional food so you know
I don’t care where you go, food gets old everywhere you go and yes when
the parents show up it’s always better. I’ve got a son going to a prep
school in Connecticut right now and every time we show up food is absolutely
glorious so I understand that, but I would say you know Clay was particularly
his second semester when he realized he was gonna transfer, and he was gonna
go to Gettysburg, and he was ready to move on, but as he said it was
perfectly fine everything was good. He didn’t he didn’t have a whole lot of
complaints about it. Robin: Mark, I can’t jump in. This is Robin. My daughter did not get
along with her roommate in the beginning and it was it was not a great
experience, and she ended up in a single for a good long time and we
thought “Oh this is it, she’s never gonna be able to do that,” and over time though,
she’s ended up in suites with people and it’s worked out. And the residential
advisors and the residential directors are there as resources. And there
are occasional issues between any group of young people, but I
think that this College has the capacity to kind of pace the living situation to
match what the students abilities are at that point. It’s a population of
kids, some of whom have had very difficult social interactions over time,
so they’re really learning how to do this and you know the first year was
tough for our daughter, but the process overall has been incredibly positive. She did start out in the dorm which is the Wellness dorm which, I mean Mark would know more about this, but there is a dorm that is
set aside for sort of considerations with kids who have particular living
situation needs and I think that was really important for her. Mark: Correct, yeah
the Wellness dorm I believe is Davis Hall and that’s been really
popular and successful with students who have particular needs, either socially or
with their living arrangements. Thank you those were those were great
answers. I have another question about going far away from home, so this
might be more directed toward Padma and Laura since you’re on the west coast.
Laura, I think you mentioned that when Jackson himself
decided he wanted to come here you were a little skeptical about the
distance, so how does how does that play into the decision and how does
it play out once your student is here is the distance a major factor? Laura: Thanks, Mark. I’d say for me I wouldn’t
say I was skeptical I just wanted to make sure that she knew how far away it
really was and that he was prepared for it because you can’t just pop home when
you want to, and the trip home is kind of daunting, it takes all
day and then some. And if you are traveling in the wintertime and there’s
a storm, you might be spending the night in an airport somewhere, which has
happened. So I just want him to make sure that it was something that he was aware of. I was totally behind
it so I I was I was cool with it and I found for myself
it worked out really well for him. That first semester I guess it’s a little hard to have your kid three time zones away, but
then after a semester you realize it’s like oh what if something happens and
then you realize nothing’s gonna happen and if something
happens something happens you deal with it, but it’s no different than if your kid
is an hour away, it’s really no different. And I have family on
different parts of the East Coast and they could get there in six hours or
whatever and nothing ever happened. It
was it was really fine and and and from from my standpoint what really
drove the decision was what my kid wanted to do and what was important to
him and he’s very intrinsically motivated and if it was not something that was important to him, then we wouldn’t have done it. I would never have forced my kid
to do it, I don’t think that would have been successful, but I think
that it was it was the right decision for him. I don’t know, Padma
what was your experience? I mean I know your kid was also motivated
to go, right? Padma: Well I wouldn’t say that he was ready to go that far and I think
what helped him was that he had a cousin that lived about an hour away
during the transition program that he went to and that was enormously helpful. We kind of sensed that he was not ready to leave home and we had to figure
that out first and see how we could get him to feel a little bit more
comfortable about being in a place where you know he wasn’t going to be missing
home or feel like he was far away from everyone else. So, the idea of going to the internship program and was extremely helpful and it certainly
served as a transition point for him. I think in a larger sense, it also got
him to be more independent and he spoke about the airport during bad weather when your flights get cancelled, it all turned out to be a larger experience for him. He was a kid that
never wanted to go you know stand in the security line and he always felt like TSA would pick on him and that’s just how he felt and he’s gotten a lot more experience with that, but actually
living on campus he tends to be a pretty social kid and once he associates
himself with at least a few handful of students and some
staff members, he seems to just kind of you know go with it. But just to have him take this step it did take a little process for us as well, but he’s
doing alright so far so good. Laura: Just really briefly that to add to her
comment about traveling, Jackson
wasn’t reluctant to travel solo but he had never done a whole lot of traveling
on his own and because he’s a person who stutters, he has a certain ambivalence
about speaking to people he doesn’t know very well and it’s a little more
complicated for him and for him the experience of traveling
cross-country on his own back-and-forth has been enormously empowering for him
and he’s learned that he can do that and now it’s old hat for him. He books his own flights and that experience was
huge for him, that revelation that “this is what people do, and
they travel and I can do that too” that was really great for him. Mark: Thank you very
much we have just about two minutes left we have a lot of questions that
unfortunately I’m not going to be able to get to, but to reiterate to anyone
who’s watching and has questions we are going to try to answer anything you
posted on our Facebook page with a direct reply to you. If we don’t get to
you, please do email us. You can send me an email to [email protected]
that will come directly to me and just very quickly because we have about a
minute left the final question: a few people
have been asking about social life and things to do on campus and around campus,
some of you talked about athletics and the radio station and other activities
maybe one of you quickly could just jump in and talk a little bit about how your
student experienced some of the social activities on campus. Padma: Maybe I could go there. Ryan always found a way to go to Brattleboro, he’d find skate parks, and started to find a place to go out and have some fun. He was also happy to go to Boston on the shuttle, and he’d meet up with his friends there. I don’t think he ever had much trouble, he always had friends in the caf he knew and in the sports arena where he and his friends would go shoot hoops or participate in soccer He always seemed to have a good, social group of friends that he’d hang out with. Mark: Great, thank you Padma. so our time is up, unfortunately. I thank everyone who has participated tonight:
Laura, Oliver, Rich, Padma, Robin, thank you so much for sharing your student stories
and thank you for everyone who’s been watching. Again my email address is
[email protected] you can also email [email protected] We’ll answer any questions you have and we’ll try to personally respond to any
questions you may have posted on Facebook.Thank you all and we will see
you next time.

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