Kildonan School, a day and boarding school for students with dyslexia and language based learning differences, located about two hours north of New York City, welcomed Dr. Paul Yellin and Susan Yellin, Esq. (who directs the Yellin Center Advocacy and Transition Services) for a day-long visit yesterday.
Our team had a chance to meet with several members of the school's leadership, from the Headmaster to the heads of the middle and elementary programs, and to sit in on a number of one-on-one instructional sessions in which students worked intensively with skilled instructors, who employed Orton-Gillingham methodology as well as amazingly creative visual and computer based tools to assist students who clearly had significant issues with reading and language. The Yellin Center visitors also got to sit in on a middle school math class and watch how the school's seventh graders were taught about decimals.
The beautiful rural setting of the school includes stables (horseback riding is part of the program from the earliest grades) and views of rolling hills and trees. A new athletic facility greets visitors entering the grounds, and separate buildings house each level of the school -- elementary, middle, and upper.
The students our team met were most impressive. They were mature for their years, serious about learning, and enthusiastic about their school and all it had done for them. Over a delicious lunch in the school dining room, a group of juniors and seniors talked about their difficult experiences before they came to Kildonan and how their Kildonan education had helped bring about a transformation in their academics, their self-esteem, and their confidence about their future. The Kildonan staff believes that by focusing on students with dyslexia and language based learning issues, they can best serve those students who will benefit from their approach. They actively seek sources of scholarships to help offset tuition for those who need it but remain concerned that the cost of a Kildonan education is an issue for many families.
The day finished with a terrific dinner with the heads of the middle and elementary divisions, as well as the Academic Dean and one of the teachers. Much of the school's leadership and staff reside on the school grounds, and the dedication of the staff was clear, both throughout the day and into the evening discussions about ways to assist Kildonan graduates with their transition to college and the adult world.