How much? Consider Lucas’s answer to the very first question on page 2. Now read what he wrote in response to the final question assigned for page 213. In what ways does Holden seem to have grown by the end of the novel and in what ways does he seem to be essentially the same person as he was when he first left Pencey? There are some ways that Holden has grown as a person. Towards the end of the book, he states that he misses all of the people that he has met in his journey in his escape from boarding school. He says that he even misses people from school that he knew well such as Ackley and Stradlater, as well as people such as Maurice. “It’s funny,” he says, because if you start to tell anybody about people, “you start missing everybody.” This means he needs help from people. Now these are some ways that Holden is still the same person as he was when he left Pencey. In the beginning of the last chapter, we find Holden at therapy, talking to this one psychoanalyst about when he goes back to another school this fall, and also about how Holden is going to apply himself at this next school. However, his response is that he doesn’t feel like it. He thinks that it is a very stupid question because he thinks that he is, but at the same time, he doesn’t know if he is going to. Apart from the obvious, such as the difference in length in contrast to his answer to the question from page 2, there is evidence of a deeper thought process in Lucas’s response. He successfully gathers appropriate ideas from the text, even quoting it correctly, rather than missing details as he had before. He didn’t rush to come up with an answer and best of all, Lucas demonstrated that he could read a section of a text and select pertinent information to express a thoughtful, reasoned answer to a two-part comprehension question. Of course, his answer also shows there are still areas for improvement and the process will continue for Lucas in his sophomore year but this is an example of significant progress. When I e-mailed Lucas’s work to his parents (with his permission, as always), they were thrilled. According to the Frostig Center, a pioneer in the field of research on learning disabilities since 1951, a support system is one of the six key factors “shown to lead to successful life outcomes for children with LD [learning disabilities].” Author, motivational speaker and respected expert on learning disabilities Rick Lavoie concurs, stating in a speech given in June 2013 that “the number one thing that contribute[s] to the success of an adult with learning troubles is they [have] a support system.” Despite the potentially intimidating environment of a home in which his parents are Yale University professors, Lucas has had a support system since he was very young. Once he began experiencing difficulties in school, his parents were proactive
about addressing his needs and remain so, in order that Lucas can continue growing, drawing upon his strengths in areas such as music and his reliable work ethic, while addressing his weaker areas such as inferential reasoning and pragmatics. During a lengthy conversation I had with Stephen Dellaporta at an EHS reception kicking off Spring Family Weekend 2013, Lucas's dad admitted that he and his wife “love the kid to death” and “he’s the center of our world.” In fact, Stephen insists that since Lucas enjoys playing music, is good at it, and is committed to developing his talents, his father couldn’t ask for anything more. “I just want him to be happy… He loves it here at this school…and it’s working for him.” This crucial support system for Lucas includes his devoted parents, of course, but extends to many individuals at EHS and at the risk of leaving anyone out, I should take a moment here to name a few deserving of particular mention, such as the aforementioned Dr. Nym Cooke, Lucas’s beloved music teacher. There’s also his academic advisor and biggest advocate, Josh Kanozek, and two of my colleagues whose work with Lucas has contributed directly to the success he’s had in my classes: his reading specialist, Mary Ann Welsch (with whom I had several encouraging conversations about Lucas’s gains in reading sprinkled throughout this year) and his writing teacher, Jessica Geary, who provided opportunities for Lucas to sharpen his writing skills by infusing his assignments with chances to write about music, including one wonderful piece in which he generated a metaphor for himself, explaining how his quiet but consistently supportive personality towards others was akin to the role of a bass guitar in the sound of a rock band. Meanwhile, Lucas earned a spot on the academic honor roll for the last three months of the school year, took the award for Most Improved Player on the school golf team, and was even entrusted with the school’s P.A. equipment to broadcast music for the school’s outdoor field day event in May. Finally, Lucas had become so comfortable in my class by May that he volunteered to act out the part of Walter in our dramatic reading of Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun. (I know, I know— that’s not a short story either— the students wanted to read aloud a play in class— since Catcher went so well, why wouldn’t I go with the flow on this request as well?) In order to perform the scene in which Walter, under the influence of one too many drinks, hops up on top of his kitchen table, and starts shouting to his wife and sister, Lucas clambered atop a desk in our classroom, pounded his chest, and bellowed the lines. It was quite the performance, and a memorable way to cap a solid first year at EHS for Lucas. I can still see the beaming smile on his father’s face when he came to pick his only child up in June.
2012–2013 Eagle Hill School 17
Published on Oct 29, 2013