Success In School Leads To Success In Life
Have you ever had the awful feeling of not belonging—of not fitting in? This can be a common occurrence in the academic environment for children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and/or Learning Disability (LD). This feeling oftentimes leads to school failure, acting out, and other inappropriate behaviors. Family life is so disrupted by the frustration of having a child who does not quite fit in, that parents feel there is no place to turn. Fortunately for families in the Middle Georgia area, Woodfield Academy provides that sense of belonging.
Thanks to the vision of a handful of families and concerned professionals who felt there was a great need for a school which specialized in these types of learning disabilities, Woodfield Academy opened its doors in September of 1997. Macon Evangelistic Church offered the opportunity for this progressive school to move into a room in the building originally occupied by Chapel Hill Academy. What began with one room, one teacher, and a student population of 10, has grown to leasing the entire building, a staff of 10, and a student population of 65. Children in grades 4th through 12th are given the opportunity to experience that previously elusive feeling of individual success.
“We want all children to be successful,” says Woodfield Headmaster Dennis O’Connor. The school is committed to this statement. Like traditional schools, Woodfield Academy is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Association and adheres to the college preparatory tract. Unlike traditional schools, there is no across-the-board curriculum used at Woodfield. Under the guidance of Al Stramiello, Doctor of Special Education, an Individual Education Program (IEP) is developed for each student. At the beginning of the school quarter, Dr. Stramiello, school administration, teachers, parents, and the student meet to develop the IEP. This program sets forth goals in academic, behavioral, social, and time management areas. These goals are revisited and adjusted as needed throughout the quarter. This hands-on approach allows students to work at a level and pace that promotes academic success and positive self-esteem.
In addition to the academic programs, other opportunities are available to students. An “exploratory” period allows high school students to participate on the yearbook or newspaper staffs. A traditional Junior-Senior prom is held in the spring. Spirit Week promotes “Wildcat” pride. Last school year students attended the Impressionist exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta, with each student being assigned to sketch a section of a particular painting on display. Upon return from the museum, the students painted their individual panels and put them together. The finished product makes a lovely addition to the school’s décor. Students will have the opportunity to work on a stage production in the spring. Woodfield’s Board of Directors has approved the school requesting membership in the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA), which will allow students to compete academically and athletically against other private schools.
Although Cissy Brumfield, one of the original founders, current assistant headmaster, and teacher says, “Our kids understand each other,” it is evident that it is not just the kids, but the teachers who understand their students. Beginning last spring, Woodfield and its educators began offering students the SAT. This is a special one-on-one administration, which allows extra time, the use of headsets, and/or the test to be read by the teacher. During the holidays, science teacher, Glen Imlay, and his students made treats and foodstuff for the local fauna. Students and teachers seem to feel a sincere bond and commitment to each other. They sit down together and discuss daily goals. Ninth grader Randall says, “I like it here. The teachers spend more time (one-on-one) than other teachers.” “I like it a lot,” says 10th grade student Kelly in his third year as a Wildcat.
“We would not be where we are if not for the parents,” says Mr. O’Connor. These families have sought out an environment which allows their child to succeed and are committed to enabling the program to grow. Having a learning disabled child requires that extra special effort, and these parents have made it. The Parent, Teacher, Student Association is very active at Woodfield. One project for the month of December was volunteering to assist physically disabled and elderly shoppers at a local Target store. Over 75% of the school’s students participated in this project. This would not be possible without parental commitment.
Woodfield Academy proves that it is not the child that fails, it is the program that fails the child. Everyone has a different way of learning and finding the way that works best for the individual is what it takes to succeed. Woodfield’s Class of 2002 is evidence of this philosophy. In May, all 15 seniors will be walking across the stage, receiving their high school diploma, moving their tassels, and setting out to meet their next adventure.#
4500 Chapel Hill Drive
Macon, Georgia 31206
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