Chad discusses his struggles in elementary school with learning disabilities and how it led him to the development of Sudbury Valley Schools and to the career path of community development. Chad talks about how important being a part of a community is, and how important it is to feel heard and respected in a group.
The first question that I have for you is: What was the most difficult part of school for you?
You know again there was no special ed then, saying from the front of the room “Ok Chad what’s the answer to number 2? What’s two times nineteen” and I would get red in the face and now, all the other kids are whipping their heads around looking at me, so it was the kids too so. The hardest part was, I guess you would call it sticking out or the change, the change from fitting in and community, to sticking out as there’s something different here, what’s going on. You know, I was called lazy and a lot of those kinds of things until around 13 years old or something, when they diagnosed a bunch of learning disabilities. You know, it’s like any health diagnosis, somebody could take the diagnosis, let’s say alcoholism, they could take that and say “Oh my god I’m broken! This is never going to get better.” Other can take that diagnosis “Hey, now I know I need to watch out for this, how can I work on that.” So as soon as the mind makes that turn, that change, there is benefit. So, by the time I hit high school I had dropped out so, joining that new school in Framingham was the best thing that could have ever happened. I was accepted for who I was no matter what that small part of me was about. I was kind of, I guess you could call it sitting at the boundary. I was neither at the public high school nor at the prep school, but once I started that new school with the others, I was back in the arms of the community. I mean the Sudbury Valley School prepared me for being a member, you know, being someone who had something to give. “We want to hear from you, what’s your take on this, now what about yours.” And I think being a member of that warming school, and the specific model of the school formed a lot of the rest of my life.