Above picture: Horticulture class enjoys great weather while plotting beds.
By Smarty Guest Blogger, Hallie Rojeski, Head of School, The John Crosland School
I was initially drawn to learning more about The John Crosland School over a year ago when the search committee was able to easily articulate what they wanted in their next Head of School: someone who would revitalize the close-knit family feel, look internally to support the students and teachers, have passion and expertise in the world of learning differences. These are three areas I believe I excel in, and I was excited to embrace this next endeavor.
I have now been at Crosland for a little over three months, and it already feels like home. Students with learning differences are my personal passion and spending my days shaping an entire school where the mission is solely focused on students that learn differently is a dream come true. Providing a safe environment void of competition where children feel supported by their teachers results in their self-confidence. Often students come to us broken and fearful of the educational world. Students’ self-confidence and independence that can be developed at Crosland allows the entire family to focus on familial matters as opposed to educational opposition.
Knowing that building relationships is key in a new role, I focus on listening, observing, and asking questions. These specific attentions led to the creation of our new tagline: Belong, Believe, Succeed! Before students succeed, they must know they belong and believe in themselves as others do. What surprised me is that once I shared this new tagline with our parent body, their response was overwhelmingly the same: “As a parent of a student with a learning difference, ADHD, and/or high functioning autism, I never felt like I belonged at our previous school. But at Crosland, fellow parents understand my path and support my child’s growth too.”
My presence and vision have also had a revitalizing effect on the connectivity of the community. I’ve enjoyed reaching out to all constituents individually or in small groups to hear about what they love about the school, why they serve on the Board, and when professionals recommend Crosland as the appropriate educational environment for students. Being new to CLT, I also am growing my resources for families. As I meet with professionals, I am consciously filing away mental notes about the services and specialties of professionals so that when a student needs support, I can provide connections to help ease their situation. During September and October, I am spending time in classrooms learning the strengths and needs of the students, so I can be supportive of the teachers and parents. In November, I will observe all division meetings to help bolster leadership and continuity between departments.
One of the benefits of being a new external Head of School is the gift of fresh eyes for enhancing initiatives. Crosland believes that we need to continually incorporate more self-advocacy and student voice so that as students go to college, they have already been an active leader in their school community working on real-life projects where they had a vision and played a leading role. We recently founded a Beta club and attended the NC Leadership Summit. Our students are very bright and should be exposed to statewide leadership opportunities and competitions. Additionally, a few examples of new offerings are our High School electives: Digital Executive Functioning, Digital Communications, and Horticulture. The Digital Communications class is creating an online Crosland Wear store. This began with meeting with the sales consultant, surveying the students for clothing preferences, and selecting logo placement. The Horticulture class is researching how to set up raised beds, writing a purchase list, and designing a plan to sell their vegetables at the Farmer’s Market in the spring. For these initiatives to solidify and be communicated to the Crosland community, I created a blog. This blog allows me to highlight the student accomplishments and unique features of the school and educators. One of my favorites entries is the Canine Connection exploring how Bruce and Bumble support the learning environment for our students. Click here for the current blog and follow the pups @dogsofcrosland on Instagram.
Video: Maya shares why she finds Crosland her best fit.
Hallie comes to Crosland from Noble Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, a school very similar to Crosland, where she’s served as Head of Lower School and the Junior High since 2011. Prior, Hallie was a special education teacher for ten years at Noble and The Oakwood School in Greenville, North Carolina. She attended East Carolina University, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in special education and a Master’s Degree, and she also holds a Post-Master’s Certificate in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Hallie has been actively involved with many professional associations, including the International Dyslexia Association, the Southern Association of Independent Schools, and a collaboration with The Carroll School in Massachusetts, The Hamilton School in Rhode Island, The Lab School in the District of Columbia, and The Lawrence School in Ohio. Throughout her career, Hallie has demonstrated a commitment to children with learning differences and we’re confident she will take Crosland to the next level and beyond.
The John Crosland School Admissions Events
Click here for more information on Admissions.
– (TH) January 10, 2019
– (W) February 13, 2019
– (M) March 07, 2019
Mini Tours 8:30-9:30am
– (M) November 19, 2018
– (Th) December 13, 2018
– (Th) May 02, 2019
Portia York – Director of Advancement