Packer's commitment to diversity includes an appreciation of the broad range of thinking styles our students bring to school each day. Through our Learning Skills curriculum, we reinforce essential skills to support students as they keep pace with Packer's intellectually challenging academic program. The Learning Specialists are knowledgeable teachers and diagnosticians who work together with classroom teachers, school psychologists, and division administrators to identify the needs of students and develop plans to maximize their educational experience
Learning Specialists in the Lower School work with students to further develop academic skills in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. To best meet the range of needs, learning specialists meet and work with students in various settings; small-groups, individually, as well as in the large classroom environment. Our Learning Specialists collaborate with faculty to support differentiation in the classroom, consult with and advise faculty and parents regarding student learning and are valued resources to the community. Packer’s Lower School Learning Specialists aim to create a nurturing environment in which to promote independence and increase self-confidence in our lower school learners. Lower School Learning Specialists’ work is geared towards ultimately helping children transfer and access the academic skills they are taught in their natural classroom environment.
Middle School Learning Specialists directly teach our Language and Literacy and Linguistics classes, which occur in the 5th and 6th Grades for students who need to strengthen their fundamental Language Arts skills. Language and Literacy focuses on developing skills in decoding, encoding, reading comprehension, vocabulary and the many steps of the writing process. Language and Literacy also supports students’ developing thinking skills, as well as metacognitive awareness to allow students to reflect on themselves as learners and begin to self-monitor their study habits. Linguistics consolidates and expands the complexity of reading, writing, and study skills begun in 5th Grade, while at the same time introducing students to the study of a World language through the direct teaching of Latin vocabulary and grammar. The ultimate goal for students in these classes is for them to generalize and more independently apply such skills across content areas. Middle School Learning Specialists also meet with students individually or in small groups to support them with their unique learning needs. This support may focus on developing academic skills regarding specific content areas, and/or helping students with time management, organizational and study skills. Middle School Learning Specialists collaborate with teachers regularly, attend team meetings and support our students by being present in many of their content classes
The Upper School program is organized around distinct and flexible types of support for students: small study groups, peer tutoring, and individual meetings. Additionally, classroom observations and collaborations with teachers provide us with important information about the ongoing needs of students. Packer’s learning specialists are experienced teachers and diagnosticians, able to discern learning needs and propose strategies. We work closely as a department with teachers, the Deans in both divisions, and with the school psychologists to provide comprehensive support for students.