Education Series

Our Responsibility to Meet the Needs of Every Student

Learning resource teachers are committed to making sure every student succeeds regardless of how they learn or what obstacles they face. We are advocates for our students, placing their needs at the center of every decision we make, every lesson we plan and every assignment we give. As pedagogy evolves and diagnoses of anxiety and attention-related health issues increase, teachers must continually ask themselves, “Is this what is best for my students?” Or, more importantly, “Is this what is best for all of my students?”

Equitable Access to Learning

ADHD and learning disabilities are the leading causes of creating learning plans at Severn. ADHD impacts the ability to focus and sustain attention. In addition, executive function impairments often accompany ADHD. Executive functions include a student’s ability to initiate, to organize, to follow through, to self-monitor and to plan. Learning disabilities often impact a student’s capacity to process information in specific academic areas. For any of you who have a child with one of these, you know that schoolwork can be challenging (despite knowing that they are smart kids!).

Instruction and how it is delivered should never be done in one, and only one, way. When this is done — when the shampoo method is employed — only a fraction of our students have access to learning. If we ignore our students’ varied learning styles and abilities, we neglect our mission to know and value every child. Students with attention issues, auditory processing issues, and language-based learning disabilities are, very likely, missing parts of the instruction.

Lessons that include multi-sensory experiences like spending time outside, singing, drawing, acting, and more give students more than one way to access the information — they engage all of the senses rather than relying solely on reading and listening. Moreover, research indicates that multi-sensory learning is more likely to be retained and is far more engaging and fun.

Social and Emotional Impact

In addition to compromised access to instruction, students with LD and ADHD are more susceptible to other social and emotional issues. Students often report high levels of stress over homework. If a student typically spends two hours on homework, expect a student with a learning disability to spend at least three. Short deadlines can create a loop of anxiety and depression for these students. Hours of homework without appropriate time to plan, inaccessibility to instruction, and assessment that is not differentiated create an uphill battle, daily, for students with LD and ADHD.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 33% of students with ADHD also have one coexisting condition — 18% being anxiety and 15% being depression. Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 21% of children ages 13-18 experience some diagnosable form of anxiety.

Teaching for Every Student

How can we teach for every student and still reach academic goals? Teachers must provide multi-sensory experiences, think purposefully about assessment, plan homework with respect for students’ time, differentiate lessons and work with learning specialists to accommodate students who are struggling.

Student support in independent schools is a fairly new, evolving practice. With the increasing number of diagnosed learning disabilities nationwide the need for support is higher than it has ever been. At Severn, we strive to create an inclusive community where every individual is known and valued, where every person feels a sense of belonging. As educators, it’s our responsibility to fight against the stigma associated with learning disabilities and support students in the way that’s right for them. Only then can we truly meet the needs of every student.

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Our Education Philosophy

Severn School believes in educating the whole person in a student-centered, supportive educational community that values the dignity, self-worth, and potential of each individual.

Our Mission

Severn School challenges its students to pursue excellence in character, conduct, and scholarship, to marshal the courage to lead, and to develop the lasting desire to serve and achieve. We believe this is best realized in a community where adults model these qualities and where each student is known and valued.

Our Inclusivity Statement

Severn aspires to be an inclusive community where each person is welcomed and affirmed.  We find strength and value in our similarities and differences thereby inspiring students and adults to participate in and sustain a vibrant exchange of ideas and perspectives.  In designing thoughtful programs and practices, we will broaden a culture of belonging and respect and an appreciation for the complexities within ourselves and others, and foster the desire to participate in a dynamic, global society.

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146