Leelanau School adds new classes, changes schedule
As students piled their belongings into their respective dormitories, a few changes might have caught their eyes. What shouldn’t come as a surprise is the school’s dedication to immersing its students in a high-quality educational program.
Opening day numbers are up about 15 percent, according to Brian Chatterly, director of admissions. Chatterly is projecting anywhere from 60 to 70 students, and the school will continue to enroll students throughout the year.
According Joe Blondia, the school’s dedication to its student body as well as keeping it’s 6:1 student to teacher ratio intact has allowed the school to meet the needs of all types of students, especially those with learning differences.
“A learning difference can be a million different things,” said Blondia, the director of development and science instructor. “It can be hurdles such as dyslexia and ADHD or even speaking English as a second language.
“When you only have six kids in a class you can individualize the education to fit everybody’s learning style and needs.”
Though this objective has remained unchanged since the schools introduction in 1929, the new school year will bring a couple of new additions with it.
Among the biggest changes is the addition of two teachers. According to Rob Himburg, director of education, last year’s math instructor Jim Douglas will take on a counselor role in the school’s Learning Resource Center. The move left openings for recent hires Matt Peschel and Tom Dohm in the mathematics department.
Peschel, a 1997 Leland graduate, began his college career at Michigan State University (MSU) before receiving his Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Michigan.
On the other hand, Dohm is an experienced math, science and geography teacher with a Bachelor of Science from MSU.
A few new classes are being added to the curriculum as well.
Math modeling and English as a second language (ESL) are among them.
Douglas is currently helping design the math modeling course which will explain to students how math is put into action in the real world. Portions of the class will focus on logic, statistics and global and political finance.
The ESL course will benefit international students the most. Dual instructed by Kim Speicher (English) and Adam Couturier (History), the course will take a specialized approach to the two subjects that are often difficult for students who don’t speak English as their primary language.
Also being added to the curriculum are an applied design course, fresh water ecology and advanced ceramics.
Students will also notice the Leelanau School is adapting a block schedule for the 2012-2013 academic year, with the first course beginning at 9 a.m. All seven periods will meet on Mondays while the rest of the week takes on an A/B schedule — A classes meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays and B classes meeting on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Those longer class period will allow us to go on field trips and delve deeper into certain topics,” Blondia said. “It’ll also help our students stay focused longer by reducing the number of class transitions they go through during the day.”
In addition to the staffing and schedule changes, students will see a number of aesthetic upgrades throughout campus.
“There have been updates everywhere on campus,” Blondia said.
One of the biggest upgrades is the new deck located outside of the dining hall. It doesn’t stop there either.
Dormitories have received new carpeting and paint as well as upgraded bathroom facilities. One of the most exciting additions however is the installation of LED lights in classrooms, replacing old florescent bulbs.
“The LED lights give off pure white light and are more energy efficient,” Blondia said. “We think our students will really appreciate the reduced fatigue often experienced under florescent bulbs.”
The changes are welcome additions and according to Blondia, future steps will be taken to ensure the Leelanau School continues to provide a highly individualized education experience while maintaining high academic standards.
One thing that won’t change this year is tuition rates. Full-time boarding costs $54,500, while parents of the five-day boarding students and day students can expect to pay $46,500 and $27,000 respectively.
Financial aid is available and according to Blondia, the school will work with families to ensure prospective students have the best chance to gain the education they may need.
“We’d like this type of education to be available for anyone who wants it,” he said. “It benefits everyone to learn this way, but it’s critical for some, so we’ll do our best to give each student the best opportunity to enroll.”