This fall, a new education specialist will help Marlborough students with learning differences. The specialist will take over the supervision of the existing Methodology for Personal and Academic Success program for the middle school, which teaches students behavioral and study skills. The new specialist will track students with learning differences and help them with accommodations throughout their time at Marlborough. They will test students for learning differences and help provide a variety of treatments. Director of Middle School Sean Fitts said that learning specialists can diagnose issues and come up with treatment plans, due to their specialized training.
“Treatment can be anything from accomodations to therapy, of some sort, and knowing exactly what matches is really important,” Fitts said. “Educators many times may think they know the right answer on how to help a student, but it takes years of training to really understand that and to be able to apply that skill.”
Previously, accommodations were handled by Director of Educational and Counseling Marisa Crandall and Dean of Social and Emotional Learning and Middle School Psychologist Morgan Duggan, but they were overwhelmed by providing students with emotional as well as academic support. Oftentimes, students had to be referred to outside companies to help with diagnoses and treatments for learning differences. Crandall said that the fact the department was not able to accommodate everyone, because they were spread too thin, became evident this year.
“When we came back this year, we’re having a lot more [academic] needs, and we’re seeing a lot more needs also on the mental health end, and I want to be able to provide that,” Crandall said. “ Ms. Duggan and I are just incredibly busy, and I want to make sure that we’re taking care of everybody.”
According to Crandall, there are many students who struggle with executive functioning and require external support to foster their academic skills. Fitts said that this is part of a push in the past 10 years to better support students.
“Schools like Marlborough have typically avoided, throughout time, having people [education specialists] on campus, almost as a way of not admitting that they need it and we relied a lot on outside support,” Fitts said. “ Now, we’re recognizing instead of avoiding issues, like in the past. We’re actually addressing them and actually helping students.”