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  • Writer's pictureLior Bendat

Asher Day Newsletter MAY 2024 - 1 of 2


WELCOME

Hello all.  Welcome to the very first Asher Day School newsletter.  In this first edition, I want to take the opportunity to share Asher Day’s mission and provide you with an overview of where we are today.  Going forward, these monthly newsletters will serve the purpose of providing families, educators, and partners with information and updates on the school’s launch and ongoing operations.  While our goal is to be operational by the 2025/2026 school year, we need everyone’s help to make this a reality.  Please read on!

 

ABOUT ASHER DAY


Mission Statement

Asher Day School will be a private school that offers an enriching blend of project-based and social-emotional learning to twice exceptional (2E) children for grades K-8.  We are dedicated to fostering a positive and balanced learning environment as an alternative to conventional schooling. Our curriculum emphasizes a hands-on, project-based approach, stirring exploration, curiosity, and discovery across Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) disciplines in an interconnected manner. Asher Day School seeks to transform the K-8 years into a joyful and enriching journey that ultimately prepares students to thrive and pursue their passions.

 

In contrast to the inflexible atmosphere often found in conventional schools, we champion a supportive setting that not only promotes intellectual growth and appreciates individual talents but also minimizes unnecessary stress.  All this is meticulously designed to cater to each student’s unique learning style, sensory needs, and strengths. 

 

At Asher Day School, it is our mission to transform primary education into a journey of exploration where skills and knowledge are learned in an applied setting in collaboration with peers and community partners across a broad set of disciplines.


What Makes Us Different?

At Asher Day, every educator and administrator must be empathic as well as a committed supporter of neurodiversity.  Our educators will always encourage our students to be their authentic selves without having to conform to rigid social norms.  We will aspire to make school a safe and welcoming hub of discovery where our students are free to express themselves in an environment of mutual respect and camaraderie.  Each student will be met at their respective level, allowing us to focus on their strengths while providing support in areas for growth.  Social and emotional learning (SEL) and practical life skills will be integrated into the program so that our students can realize their goals and ambitions.

 

Another component that makes us different is our commitment to professional development in areas of giftedness, autism and neurodiversity, and project-based learning.  Funds will be dedicated to professional development so that our staff is always bettering itself to serve our population.


PERSONAL STORY

I founded Asher Day School because of my family’s struggles to find a fully supportive, flexible, and future-focused learning environment for our perpetually inquisitive, sensory seeking neurodivergent daughter, Lyla.


From the day she was born, it was clear that Lyla was not your typical baby. Although a happy baby, she found it hard to settle and relax. Putting her down for naps was always an epic battle. She also started stimming at only a few months old. And yet, she was always our perfect, sweet baby who always smiled, made us laugh, and brought us infinite joy.


However, as time went on, Lyla's anxiety manifested, and she started to exhibit sensory-based behavioral challenges. Certain sounds, colors, and visuals scared her so much that she wouldn't want to leave the house.


Despite these setbacks, Lyla always displayed incredible aptitude to learn and taught herself to read at 3 years old. She immersed herself in subjects like space, nature, and the sciences. She devoured facts and retained even the most mundane of details. A series of psychological consultations and a panel of psychoeducational assessments indicated OCD and autism as well as profound giftedness.


As such, it came as no surprise that Lyla struggled at each institution in which she has been a student.   She dropped out of her first pre-K school because of anxiety. The following year, she was asked to leave a different pre-K for similar reasons. Her third pre-K declared her behavior as "problematic."


We subsequently moved from Florida to my wife's hometown of Chapel Hill, where we hoped that the educational system would offer more opportunities for Lyla. Unfortunately, every private school to which we applied in the Triangle denied Lyla entry, and so she was enrolled at our local elementary school for kindergarten. Despite her anxiety, sensory challenges, difficulty with following directions, and more, Lyla thrived, which we attribute to her indefatigable spirit and the personal attention she received from her wonderfully empathic, determined, and exceptional teacher. Nevertheless, the school system denied Lyla an IEP that year because she was not academically impaired. Gifted kids need IEPs too!


The tides turned against our daughter in first grade. With approximately twenty children in her class, her teacher, while well intentioned, was overwhelmed with students of various needs and lacked training in working with children on the spectrum. I'll spare you the details of Lyla's experience in first grade, but we found ourselves in a position of tremendous concern for her wellbeing in the public school system.


From anxiety and peer-related social challenges to boredom resulting from her giftedness, our daughter has yet to be part of an institution where she can be her authentic self and get the support she needs to thrive. Lyla will be attending the welcoming and neuro-affirming Lerner School in Durham until Asher Day is fully operational. At Asher, we believe that we will be able to offer a program specific to neurodivergent, gifted children (see below) that encourages children to be their authentic selves.





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