Yesterday I was scheduled for a video shoot at the Ranch’s new academic center. The idea was to help parents and potential students get a look at how learning occurs at the ranch. I’ve gotten used to the fact academic model at the Ranch is unlike anything else. The fact that students catch up and often surpass their peers in public school settings is sort of “old news” to me.

What surprised me was the story Victoria Fielding, Academic Director at Discovery Ranch, told me about her own family’s struggles with children that didn’t fit the traditional academic mold. Asperger’s, adoption issues, and a very difficult divorce were all threads in the fabric of her family life. She’s been there, done that.

While teachers, tutors, mentors and therapists are there to help students adjust and achieve in their new academic surroundings, Victoria is the one who puts her arm around parents and says, “I get it.” She understands what it’s like to have a child who doesn’t fit the mold. She knows firsthand the frustration and fear. And she understands academic success really is possible when students’ learn in an environment that addresses their strengths as well as their weaknesses.