Open Letter from an Aseltine parent
Mother of Aseltine Graduate
When I toured Aseltine, prior to enrolling my son, I was very nervous. School placement was at crisis point. I was worried about Aseltine’s reputation as the “last chance” at independent schooling and my son’s ability to function at the school. I was pleasantly surprised. A few students volunteered about their positive experiences at Aseltine, which never happened at any previous schools. I saw happy students working in teams and independently. I saw a place the students were directed to go for behavior issues, meaning that the school was well prepared to deal with challenges. I liked how the teachers and administrators were straight talking about the challenges and benefits of Aseltine. I was especially impressed with their promise of accountability and self-advocacy.
At previous schools, my son was allowed to sit in classrooms with no work and no consequences unless his behavior disrupted others. At his last school, he was allowed to do minimal work and get A’s in his courses. Here at Aseltine, he is graded on the work that he completes, which holds him accountable not only for his behavior, but also for academic achievement. My son has earned several awards for good behavior. At previous schools, he was one of the more challenging students, and here he is one of the model students – it is a wonderful change.
During another visit to the school, I saw a student meeting independently with a school district representative about his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). I really wanted that for my son. He is progressing towards self-advocacy. He is defining his transition goals. It may not be what I envisioned for him, but I am very proud of him for making his own decisions. He knows exactly what he has to do to earn his high school diploma and he is making good progress on completing that goal. He is making plans on what to do after high school. He has made tremendous progress while at Aseltine.
Aseltine should not be thought of as a place for the last chance, but as a place for another chance for new possibilities. Other schools talk about accountability, but Aseltine excels at teaching and executing accountability. Disabilities are an explanation for challenges and behavior, not an excuse. My goal for my son as a parent is that he grows up to be a happy and independent adult, which means that my son has to make his own decisions on what that means to him. I cannot define it for him.
Aseltine has given my son another chance and allowed him to succeed. It has changed the “I can’t…” to “I CAN…”! Thank you.
At times I was doubtful this day would come. I faced the possibility of never graduating while moving through several different schools during my tumultuous high school career. I spoke about alternatives with defiance in my voice, but with despair in my heart. I felt I had to significantly compromise my ambitions in life. Grudgingly though, I would struggle along because it seemed I had nothing else to do, in reality, nothing else was as imperative.
The future has a much better outlook now. I’m more confident that I will succeed in life. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. I’m pleased with myself, but I must credit much of my continued hope to my Mom and Dad and to my school, Aseltine. In environments previously uninspiring of, and perhaps inhibitive of my success, my school has always believed in me. They never lowered their expectations of me and wouldn’t let me do so for myself. They wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself and instead of letting me evade and avoid, they always questioned whether giving up was the right thing to do.
I’ve matured a lot and I have more maturing to do. I’m grateful that they will continue to be there for me as long as what I’ve learned maintains its presence in my life. Rest assured it will.
Reflections on Old and New School
My old school was a horrible school. It wouldn’t teach you at your full potential. They would teach you as though you didn’t know what to do and treat you like you were a little kid. And if you did the smallest thing, they thought you were crazy and going crazy so they would send you out of class to the counselor, where you would talk to a person that didn’t want to talk, and ask you unnecessary questions.
(At Aseltine) I can learn at my own pace, and they will help every individual with their problems, whether it may be home, health or school-related, they will help you get through it so that you can get your credits. If you get in trouble, you don’t go to a counselor like you’re crazy. You go to a class and they will talk to you and ask you what you did and help you get back to class so you can get your credits.
The Aseltine Experience
When I first came to Aseltine I resented any work at all, and didn’t get along with any of the other students. My last school was incredibly irritating. I hated all of its staff and work. The homework was as ridiculously tiring as the schoolwork, and the school hours left me no time at all to get anything done at home.
The lack of conformity and excessive work here at Aseltine left me feeling human and a little more motivated to come to school everyday. This building is an amazing feat of special education and deserves to exist as long as it possibly can. It has changed the way I look at school and academics.
My time here has been far more enjoyable than any other school I have attended. The staff and teachers here are respectable and well educated. The work and activities are not demeaning in the slightest sense, and I fully enjoy the school environment.
Our teachers help the students much better than at any other school that I’ve been to. Fieldtrips (although not necessary to my enjoyment of this school) have also been given in a fair dosage.
I really believe that this is the best school that I’ve been to in my entire life and it certainly deserves all the donations it can get.