When you walk into DeSales for the first time, you may notice that the common areas contain quotes written on the walls. In the cafeteria, for example, a quote reads “Be who you are and be that well.”
Other than serving as positive space on the wall, this message forms one of the key pillars for the DeSales experience — personalized learning.
The personalized education model at DeSales involves how the role of the student is defined. Rather than requiring the student to adapt to the teaching model applied in each class, the student can utilize their already developed skills and learn how to apply their knowledge in various environments.
The focus shifts from uniformity to creativity, allowing students to build self-advocacy as they experiment with what works for them.
If a student is a visible, audible, or kinesthetic learner, opportunities always exist for that student to succeed. In a single morality class alone, we were able to express our personalities within the curriculum through discussions, debates, watching movies, making parody songs, and even creating board games.
Outside of the classroom, this environment continues to exist. The formula used at DeSales to create extracurriculars is one that looks to find ways to build off the interests of every student. Extracurricular activities vary from robotics and debate to e-sports and camping trips.
While DeSales maintains many of the traditional extracurriculars, such as National Honors Society, BETA, and Key Club, it also looks beyond the bounds of education to find ways to include as many students as possible. Different students are drawn to different things, and rather than ignoring this truth, DeSales looks to embrace it. The implementation of this approach has been a major success, as extracurricular involvement at DeSales is participated in by nearly 95% of the student body.
Looking beyond statistics and broad examples, the effectiveness of DeSales’ approach to individuality and self-advocacy is something that I have been able to thrive off greatly. As someone with dyslexia, many of the standard approaches to education simply do not work for me. Reading a textbook or taking a timed test can become more stressful than anything, which can shift the objective from educational growth to survival.
Rather than being left to figure out how to adapt myself, DeSales was able to offer many alternative solutions to handle the curriculum. Working with the learning resources coordinator and various teachers and through the optimization of many nontraditional resources, I was able to excel in a situation that is destined to fail. DeSales can ensure that regardless of situation or struggle, there will always be ways that the school can support whatever learning style that can lead to your success.
At DeSales, value is placed on the individual’s divine spark rather than school rankings, which creates an atmosphere for everyone to succeed. As we are led to become better men over four years, there is never a moment when individual expression is deducted from student life.
As we say every morning: allow every student to “Stand Up, Stand Out, and Stand Proud.” This is the foundation of the DeSales experience.