If we could impart anything to parents seeking a nurturing educational environment, Janet Newberry and her work are an answer to their prayers.
Our son, Colton, was diagnosed at an early age with PDD, which is classified on the autism spectrum. By age five, Colton struggled to hold a pencil, process and perform a series of simple tasks, and could only speak a few garbled words. His early years were spent with endless occupational, speech, and neural development therapists, all producing little progress or hope.
We heard of an amazing teaching philosophy that saw every child as having the potential to succeed regardless of their struggle. We met Janet Newberry, teacher and principal, and she personally came alongside Colton as he entered his kindergarten year. Day after day she worked with Colton as he learned to persevere past his limitations and we were astounded by the huge leaps we saw in his development. He learned, through effort and hard work, the habit of attention, and to know and understand the beauty of the world around him.
One specialist was dumbfounded by his ability to recite the entire length of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91 at the end of his kindergarten year. He was thriving in a classroom setting and had impeccable penmanship. Colton had far surpassed the limited expectations thought earlier by this specialist and many others in her field.
Colton is a thriving 15 year old still immersed in this educational environment. To hear his daily conversations peppered with words like “ludicrous” and “preposterous” leave us continually amazed at how far he has come.
I often think of other parents running the gauntlet of learning disabilities and diagnosis and the unknowns of their child’s future in the hands of educators and specialists. Without the guidance and teaching of Janet Newberry and the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I often wonder how profoundly different life would have been for Colton.
My prayer is that parents seeking something better, something beyond limitations and labels, will pursue a relationship and partnership with Janet Newberry. Your experience will be life-giving and life-changing.
(The picture of the Swiss Alps was painted by Colton Kammlah!)