Meet Grace - Class of 2013
Before coming to Lawrence School in eighth grade, Grace was in the honors program in her highly-rated public school district. While she could easily and quickly grasp concepts and processes, Grace struggled with time management, memorization, and organization. Because Grace’s learning difference prevents her from easily memorizing formulas and sequences, trying to master typical drills—such as math facts or scientific tables—proved particularly difficult.
Grace recalls one particularly frustrating time when her difficulty with memorization felt like a punishment: “The entire class was tested on multiplication speed drills,” Grace recalled. “Everyone who successfully completed the drill was allowed to participate in an ice cream party. I was the only one who failed that day. It was upsetting to me that the teacher didn’t understand that mental math is not my strong suit. It doesn’t mean I can’t learn the material; I can reason... I’m just not a machine.”
While Grace has difficulty with memorization, at the same time she also excels in quickly grasping concepts and learning advanced material—so much so, that even in her honors classes, she often felt the pace was too slow.
“My brain is like a sponge, so I learn material very quickly. In my old school, I would learn a concept and want to move on and work ahead of the class. I don’t like repetition. Once I understand a process, I don’t need to apply it over and over. I would get impatient when I was unable to move ahead to the next concept, and I would just want to read my book or do my own thing in class. Time management was a problem for me. Teachers respected me, but did not understand my learning style.”
Grace’s transition to Lawrence was not always easy. She worried that her new school would be no different than her old school. She was intimidated by the other students who seemed so confident and content with who they were as learners. Grace worried that her differences would continue to isolate her, and her learning style would not be understood or accepted.
Academically speaking, Grace’s adjustment to Lawrence went fairly smoothly. She credits her teachers for taking their time to truly understand her: “When I came to Lawrence, teachers didn’t automatically ‘get’ me, but they were willing to learn, understand and respect that I am a unique person with a unique learning style.”
Socially, it took Grace a little longer to feel comfortable, but she has gained lots of confidence, particularly in the past two years. “Participating in both theater and soccer gave me the opportunity to experiment with who I could be, and helped me gain confidence.”
Currently, Grace is earning college credit by taking English Composition II and Analytic Geometry/Calculus I at the University of Akron. She plans to attend college next fall, and is currently considering both Cornell University and the University of California at Davis. She isn’t entirely sure what career she eventually wants to pursue, but she does know that she wants to use her strengths in mathematics and science to help animals in some capacity. This will most likely be recognized in a career in veterinary medicine or zoology.
Grace’s mom sums up her Lawrence experience by saying, “Grace continues to excel at and beyond her potential. She hasn’t just received enough of an education at Lawrence School. She’s received more.”
Interests/Activities: Grace enjoys soccer, Taekwondo, and has performed in the annual Lawrence musical for five years. She also loves to help others, particularly children and those who are homeless. Each year, through her church youth group, Grace participates in a week-long youth work camp, volunteering to help build and repair houses across the Midwest.
Cool Fact: For the past two years, Grace spent part of her summers visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Nicknamed ‘The Little Zoo That Could,’ the zoo is best known for its efforts to reopen after being battered by three major hurricanes in 2004 and 2005: Hurricane Ivan, Hurricane Dennis, and Hurricane Katrina. Grace participated in a program in which visitors can help to socialize baby animals. Some of the animals she worked with include lemurs, kangaroos, and baby Bengal tigers. This experience has reaffirmed her desire to find a career that will allow her to interact with animals.
Advice for Students Looking at Lawrence: “Don’t stay in a situation that isn’t working for you and just think, ‘Oh well... things can only get better.’ Actually, things can always get worse, too. If you don’t try and change your situation, there’s no reward. Put in the effort and get to the other side knowing you are more powerful than you thought you were. You have to make a choice to make things better in your life. Fate holds no guarantees. Take matters into your own hands.”