Issue 49 | March 22, 2013 | Featuring Alexander Eagen

Newsletters Archive

 

Occasionally, we make a mistake in the newsletter.  Usually it's not really anything important.  This time, we accidentally included the wrong name for our featured student.  We apologize for this and are sending this corrected email. 

 

Alexander Eagen is a young man who exemplifies Winston Churchill's statement "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never..." This May Alex will be receive Scouting's highest rank, that of Eagle Scout.  Even though this is a very high honor which only 2% of all boys who join the scouts receive, it is even more special considering all that Alex has had to overcome. 

INSIDE NARHS: First Great Book

The First Great Book of High School Course Descriptions  is now out of print. 

This priceless book contains course descriptions for over 100 text-less studies which range from the American Civil war to World Literature or from Computer Science to Music Theory.  All of these course descriptions are available to registered NARHS families who would like access to them, one-at-a-time.  Your advisor or the main office can scan and email a course description to you at your request.  Please see the Table of Contents for a listing of the C.D's available.  The Table of Contents can be downloaded hereor on the downloads page at narhs.org.

FEATURED THIS WEEK:
Alexander Eagen

At less than 2 years old it became clear to his parents that something wasn't right with Alex. He was not speaking or pointing to things he wanted like his older sister was at the same age. The suspicions were confirmed by various specialists and Alex began attending an early intervention program. By kindergarten he was still not speaking meaningfully, but fortunately his teacher taught him and his family sign language to help him communicate his needs. This helped Alex understand that to get what he wanted or needed he must go to where the other person was, get his/her attention and then sign what he needed or wanted. For some reason before this, he did not seem to understand those basic steps to communication. But I hesitate to call this small step a break through because that implies that everything improved rapidly from then. It did not, but it got the ball moving, so to speak. As you might expect, with this lack of speech came behavior problems. Of course, if you can't make known your needs or wants you will have behavior problems. We continue to work on speech and language and Alex still goes to private speech 2 x a week (40 mins. each).   It has been through years and years of speech therapy and working with Alex that we have gotten to the place where now he can speak quite easily.

   One very positive contribution to his training and education occurred when Alex joined troop 225 in 2003. His parents wanted him to be in a carefully selected place where he could "model" regular kids' behaviors. Boy Scouts was a great fit. Of course, it was a learning experience because he had to work extra hard to acquire all the skills that a scout needs to know. He earned 31 merit badges including such wide-ranging ones as welding and reading. He was awarded "Scout of the Year" in his troop three times and is an Ordeal member of the Order of the Arrow.  He is also the Troop's "Leave No Trace" trainer. His love of the outdoors led him to his Eagle project which was blazing trails, cleaning up and replanting trees at Faith Lawson Merrokee Preserve, a place heavily damaged by Super storm Sandy.  Alex Eagen is an example of true determination and what can be achieved if you never ever give in. This is the embodiment of what an Eagle Scout should be.

      When Alex was in middle school, New York State revamped the requirements to graduate. This change would have excluded Alex from receiving a high school diploma. After all the progress Alex had made, his family decided they could not let that happen, so they decided to homeschool him through high school.  Alex will receive a NARHS high school diploma this June.

 

PARENTS' REFLECTIONS

      Considering all that Alex has been able to overcome, his story really is an inspiration. Also, remembering how little hope we were given by the "professionals" early on, I really want to show others that there is reason for hope.

       What I learned about being an effective teacher is to become familiar with the child's learning style...i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. Alex is very much a visual learner (luckily so am I, as it turns out), so he does best with seeing things and not with lectures. For him movies, videos, field trips, even pictures in books work waaay better than just reading about things or hearing someone talk about things. 

       I would also suggest to find what interests the child and capitalize on those topics. For example, Alex loves military themes, WWII and all that kind of "boy stuff" which helps when dealing with subjects that are "difficult" for him, like writing.  He write about his passions with a little more compliance.

       My best advice to other parents would be to persevere. What I have learned is that we have to take the long view. So much of our society has what I call the "sitcom" mentality. All problems are solved in 1/2 an hour. Also you must remember during  a "bad day" at home when you did not get everything done or your kid is arguing about something...you still are likely to get more actual learning done than could be accomplished any place else.

  

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On!' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."   - Calvin Coolidge