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Posted November 3, 2003 

The Kildonan School
Armenia, New York
Catherine A. Schantz

“Kildonan is a thriving coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades two through twelve… who show evidence of specific language based learning disabilities known as dyslexia, who will benefit from individual remediation… While many Kildonan students have had success in other aspects of life – sports, art, jobs, and friendships – most have been frustrated in school.” They encourage applications from students of average to superior intelligence and operate on a rolling admissions basis. They require educational and psychological testing, references and personal interviews to ascertain that prospective students have no current behavioral or substance abuse problems.

Kildonan uses a one-on-one tutorial approach based on the principles of Orton-Gillingham language training, one of the “oldest and most successful methods of teaching students with specific reading and writing learning difficulties.” They have refined this classic program by incorporating other “contemporary principles of remediation, with the intent to emphasize the visual (see it), auditory (say it), and kinesthetic (feel it), while teaching to a student’s potential. This multi-sensory approach opens up an understanding of language.”

“In the first years at Kildonan each student meets with a tutor daily and engages in intensive work in reading and writing skills… In the final phase of tutoring, students work on independent study skills and integrate skills learned in the tutorial with the study of subject matter.” They encourage students to identify their learning style and personal strategies that will “secure success” as they continue on to other educational settings.

“In addition to providing the best language skills training,” they offer, “well designed courses in science, mathematics, literature, and history… at several levels to stimulate and challenge college-bound students.” In addition to their elementary day program, they have a middle school program for full boarding, five day boarding, and day students. It includes “individualized remediation and preparation for high school through attention to the process of learning.” Their average class size is eight students. “Social and sporting events provide additional time to share interests.” In the high school program, about seventy five percent are full boarding students. It is designed to address the “needs of adolescents wishing to prepare for post-secondary education,” and includes working closely with teachers to “ensure success across all fields of study… advancing to higher level courses as quickly as possible and to build a foundation in their weaker subjects by selecting courses with a slower pace.”

Many of the faculty members subscribe to the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, and assume many roles at the school as instructors, coaches, advisors, dorm masters, mentors and role models. “All students attend nightly supervised study halls best suited to their learning styles, and daytime study halls supervised by members of the mathematics department." “Art electives are exciting components of the students’ daily schedule.” “Each weekend there are optional trips off campus, meals at faculty houses, art studio hours, and community service projects. They also have alpine skiing and snowboarding.

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