My name is Rachel Scherger and I am the Diversified Learning Specialist at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School. The Diversified Learning Specialist at St. Mary Magdalen school serves all students Preschool – 8th grade. I work with teachers in the classroom to vary instruction to meet all ability levels and various learning styles in the classroom. I also handle Academic Plans for students who have specific learning needs and diagnoses.
Every day I have the most amazing opportunity to work with all students grades pre k – 8, year after year. I get to meet them as a kindergarten student just beginning their journey of learning and continue on with them through the years as they grow in their knowledge and maturity. I have the opportunity to work with our dedicated teachers to differentiate lessons, and to experiment and try new projects with open ended outcomes so students get to flex their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Through teaching in the classroom and communicating with my colleagues, together we identify students who are struggling to reach learning objectives. When I work with these students I can provide small group instruction, and discuss with their teachers and our reading specialist what they are seeing as the student’s strengths and weaknesses (all guided by assessments and observations). With this information we can customize the instruction, provide support, and accommodations to help the student make progress.
I have been in this position for three years, and I have seen progress with so many students who have learning obstacles, attention issues or anxiety; and I have to say the most noticeable difference in the students is their attitude. The small successes add up to building their confidence and giving the student a “can do” attitude. I see this the most with the 7th and 8th grade Academic Learning Support students’. This was a new program in the 2015-2016 school year. The main goal of this class is for students to strengthen their organization, planning and follow through with their academic tasks. But this class has been so much more. The students benefit from the re-teaching and pre-teaching of academic skills that directly relate to their current content area classes. The students also learn to problem solve their dilemmas, take accountability for their actions, advocate for their learning needs, and celebrate their accomplishments.
Three years ago when I took this position I never would have thought it would have turned into what it is. I truly get to look at every student for who they are, celebrate their strengths and fill in the gaps to help them succeed. At St. Mary Magdalen we have a strong community built on the foundation of faith and every child having the opportunity to reach their full potential.