“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” This quote by Dutch inspirational speaker Alexander den Heijer perfectly sums up my educational philosophy. As an educator, I believe that children are beautiful, whole, and perfect beings. They are messy, they are works in progress, and they represent the wonder of possibility. I believe that it’s not the child that needs to be somehow “fixed.” When our children are given the right opportunities, support, kindness, and genuine care, they begin to blossom and move more fully into their potential.

As an educator, I find myself immersed in the “how” and “what” of the education of young minds. For example, how do we increase academic engagement for students with learning disabilities, and what instructional practices will best suit the students’ unique learning needs? Sometimes the “why” is more nebulous. Why do we do what we do? I believe that in order to truly be successful, we must more fully understand our “why.” This is true for me as an educator and is just as important for The Craig School community to understand.

Understanding the Why of Our School Community

A school’s mission statement and core values drive the “why” of the community. These form the basis for our decisions. I would argue that the most successful schools are, at their core, mission-driven, and purpose-focused. Just like the beacon atop a lighthouse illuminates a path in the midst of the unknown, our mission and values guide decisions both great and small. It is of utmost importance that we are reminded of our shared “why.”

At The Craig School we acknowledge learning differences, we understand them, and we provide the instructional strategies and supports that allow the student to grow and learn. We believe in a firm foundation of academic knowledge and higher-order thinking skills. We believe in whole child development and that social, emotional, and moral growth are integral to a student’s education. We believe that with the right environment and opportunities that all students can and will thrive. Our mission is focused on a strategy-based, comprehensive, and challenging education that is designed for the unique academic needs of students with learning disabilities while also celebrating and bringing out each students’ aptitudes and strengths. To this end, fostering a child’s self-esteem and self-awareness is paramount.

I encourage you to take a moment to read through the Statement of Core Values of The Craig School and the Mission Statement of The Craig School. These are our collective “whys.” May they provide for you a light and a path forward to nurture the true potential and abilities of all students.

Dr. Kara A. Loftin has been working in education for 23 years and has dedicated her career to developing and facilitating interventions and supports for K-12 students with exceptionalities. As Head of School at The Craig School, she oversees an evidence-based school program that values parent-school partnerships and is grounded in Orton-Gillingham instructional practices, multi-sensory learning, whole child development, and organizational skills development. She earned a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado.