Headmaster’s Newsletter

Boarding Guided Studies Program


Our Boarding Guided Studies program is designed to foster and promote student growth through one-on-one instruction in a structured setting. All students focus on current class assignments as vehicles to build individual learning skills and strategies. BGS teachers serve as point people and advocate through their coordination of classroom accommodations and regular communication with other teachers, advisors, educational consultants, dormitory proctors, and advisors. 


“We are convinced that we made the best decision, and that we sent Santiago to the right school. You are always attentive to his needs and help him achieve his goals, overcome his fears, and direct him towards a goal.” 

 

Blanca Contreras Mora
Parent of Boarding Guided Studies Student

Boarding guided studies graphic

Guided studies room

Guided studies student and teacher

Guided studies room


Student Profile

Student Jason Waldman

Jason Waldman
Boarding Guided Studies 

 

My name is Jason Waldman and I am a graduating senior at St. Johnsbury Academy. Next year I am enrolled at the University of Denver and I fully believe that St. Johnsbury Academy helped me in helping myself reach my full potential. 

 

Before SJA, I went to much smaller schools, including a smaller boarding school with only 35 students. When I arrived at St. Johnsbury Academy I was overwhelmed at first by the size of the school, the campus, and the dorms. I needed a lot of extra support due to my dyslexia and dysgraphia and I enrolled in the Boarding Guided Studies program to help me flourish in my academics. At first, I felt like I was taking a different path from everyone else, away from others, working toward a different goal. I soon realized that I was on the right path, in step with my peers, just taking an alternate route to get to the same place. 

 

The Boarding Guided Studies program allowed me a block of time with the support of the BGS teachers to help me complete my homework. It was like having a block with a parent by your side helping you through your assignments. Mrs. Stark is kind, humorous, charismatic, and she appears to be one person doing 1000 people’s jobs. Because of my work with her in GS, I was able to succeed and thrive academically and socially. I even graduated out of the Guided Studies after my junior year due to the skills I learned while in the program. I was ready to face senior year (and the rest of my life) on my own without that extra layer of support.

 

I’ve grown significantly as a student and feel as though my time here has prepared me for the future, specifically the coursework and lifestyle that awaits me at the University of Denver in the fall. Before SJA, I struggled to perform to the best of my ability in the classroom, specifically in math. Middle school was like a warm-up, my previous boarding school was a rough draft, and St. Johnsbury Academy feels like it was my final project. Through the help and support of the faculty and staff at SJA, including Mrs. Stark in Guided Studies, I feel as though I passed this final project with an A+.


Faculty Profiles

Kendra Brazeau
Director of Boarding Academic Success

 

Education
MA in French from Middlebury College

BA in French/Psychology from Hartwick College

 

Teaching Experience
2017-Present
ESL Department Chair

St. Johnbury Academy

 

2014-2017
Admissions Associate
St. Johnsbury Academy 

 

2013-2014
French/Spanish Teacher
Stoneleigh-Burnham School

 

2003-2013
French Teacher and Language Department Chair
St. Johnsbury Academy

 

2000-2002
English Teacher
Université
de Nice Sophia-Antipolis 

“It’s been an honor for me to work closely with our boarding students and families at SJA for almost 20 years, from my time as a dorm proctor in Sheepcote and the Barn to this current role supporting students academically. In my time with our Admissions department, I was lucky enough to travel across the US and the world to meet many of our families and share with them the supports we were able to offer here at the Academy, as well as to meet many successful alums who are the true testament to the amazing things students can accomplish with the right supports in place.”


Faculty member Karen Stark

Karen Stark
Boarding Guided Studies Teacher

 

Education
MA from the University of Phoenix in Curriculum and Technology Integration

BA in Special Education from Daemen College

 

Teaching Experience
2009-present
Special Education Teacher

St. Johnsbury Academy

 

2007-2009
Special Education Teacher
Monroe Consolidated School District

 

2003-2007
Curriculum Coordinator
Cattaraugus Little Valley Central School 

 

2001-2003
Grade 4 Teacher
Randolph Central School District

“Early in my career, I participated in a program called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” and it completely shifted my educational philosophy. The founder, Flip Flippen, states, “If you have a child’s heart, you have a child’s mind.” To me, relationships matter. In my work with students in Boarding Guided Studies, I try to establish an environment that fosters and promotes connection and trust. It isn’t easy for teenagers to be vulnerable, admit areas of struggle, and feel comfortable enough to seek out support. I try to strengthen relationships so that students feel more at ease in addressing areas of academic or social/emotional struggle. I also embrace student strengths and help students recognize their unique gifts. It is so important that students recognize their strengths and how they can utilize those strengths to achieve success.” 


Faculty member Katy Smit

Katy Smith
ESL/Boarding Guided Studies Teacher

 

Education
MA in Education andHuman Development: Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners from George Washington University 

BA in English and Education from Colgate University 

 

Teaching experience
2013-present

ESL Teacher

St. Johnsbury Academy

 

2003-2005

English Teacher

St. Johnsbury Academy

“Our Boarding Guided Studies program is like a sanctuary; it is a structured place of encouragement, warmth, and care, that breath that our students need in the day. Here, we help hold our students to their individual academic and community responsibilities while mindfully supporting students’ whole needs. Boarding Guided Studies is a space to listen, really listen, and I most appreciate the time I have for individual and group conversations with students. Sometimes these conversations are difficult, often fun, all valuable in their insight. I also appreciate the connections our Boarding Guided Students make with each other. In learning about the school and life experiences of others and in sharing personal experiences, our students are able to see and value multiple perspectives. These diverse perspectives illuminate connections and deepen our students’ thinking about the world”


Faculty member Jade Huntington

Jade Huntington
Boarding Guided Studies Teacher

 

Education
MA in Developmental Counseling from Vanderbilt University

BS in Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University 

 

Experience
2019 to present
Guided Studies Teacher Basketball Coach, Class Dean

St. Johnsbury Academy

 

2015-2019
Assistant Athletic Director

St. Johnsbury Academy

 

2010-2015
Athletic Director, Dean of Students

Thetford Academy

“It is wonderfully rewarding work to spend time with our students in our small group setting of Boarding Guided Studies. The carefully crafted space and the philosophy of the course is purposely designed to create an atmosphere that is conducive to work completion and lends itself to many learning styles. We deliberately work to build trusting relationships with our students while holding them to high expectations, learning to be accountable for their own academic success through perseverance and awareness of their needs. The multiple layers of support by our expert special educators and teachers lays the foundation for our students to be successful.”


Additional Academic Supports

Learning Center 

The Learning Center is located in the Grace Stuart Orcutt Library and is open all day and during conference period. Students are welcome to come in during free periods or study halls to do their homework and/or to receive extra help from the Learning Center staff which includes a full-time mathematics specialist, a writing specialist, and additional faculty members who provide subject-specific guidance and support. Students needing remedial support will also find the help they need here; their teachers actively partner with Learning Center staff to determine support plans. The Learning Center staff works proactively and collaboratively with students and teachers to prevent academic difficulty from turning into crisis. Additionally, the Learning Center is a great resource for students seeking enrichment opportunities.

Structured Study Halls

Our Structured Study Hall program moves many components of our Learning Center into students’ study halls. Students who are assigned to a Structured Study Hall, which is staffed with a professional-level teacher, are able to receive support for current assignments as well as more general support with time management and organizational skills.

Reading and Writing Lab

We offer additional reading and writing support to students after school through a reading writing lab staffed by a reading specialist training in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Orton-Gillingham is a structured literacy approach, breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. While it is most commonly associated with teaching individuals with dyslexia, it is highly effective for all individuals learning to read, spell, and write. The Orton-Gillingham Approach uses a multisensory method to teach reading, which is a common part of effective literacy programs. This means that instructors use sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. The basic purpose of everything that is done in the Orton-Gillingham Approach, from recognizing words to composing a poem, is assisting the student to become a competent reader, writer, and independent learner. The lab is open Monday-Friday from 3:10-4:15 and by appointment.

Download the overview.