Over the course of her career, Laura has distinguished herself as a thought leader focused on a holistic, collaborative approach to academic support. She has consulted with schools across the country, presented at regional and national conferences on her work, and published numerous articles. In 1999, Laura spearheaded the North East Association of Learning Specialists (NEALS), serving as its founding president. Laura earned a Masters's in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she also pursued doctoral research on the intersection of special education and independent school learning communities.
I was drawn to the Green Mountain State specifically by the educational frameworks designed to support personalized learning for all students, such as flexible pathways, proficiency-based learning and evidenced-based data to assess student progress. After honing my skills as a learning specialist in independent institutions, I wanted to be a part of a public school system that recognizes that one size does not fit all and understands that all students can learn.
The leap from the big city to rural Vermont might have been a bigger culture shock except for a year of transition during the pandemic, which I spent in my hometown in rural central New York to care for my aging parents. While I was there, I felt my entire being reorienting itself to a way of life that I had forgotten and was ready to embrace. Whether it was getting stuck behind a sander on a two lane road, the faint yet persistent, familiar smell of manure, or the storms that left three feet of snow to shovel, my year in the country reminded me who I was and where I felt most comfortable in the world.
People say that Vermont is not for the faint of heart. If this is true, I was meant to be here. It may come as no surprise that I am an avid skier and love all winter sports. I grew up next an ice rink and across the street from a little ski hill with one T-bar where tickets were $1.25. Access to the great outdoors and my gut instinct to return to a rural way of life, combined with my passion for education, led me here and I am grateful that I was wise enough to pay attention.
Newly Vulnerable & Empowered
I think I always knew that I was not smart like the other kids in school; I was smart in the way that is not rewarded with advanced placement classes and straight A’s. My interests were extensive and varied; I played piano and cello, sang in the chorus, and performed in the theater. I was a skier, a figure skater, and a gymnast. I loved everything about school, except that I did not really feel like a member of the club.
Because of my talents in music and sport, I did not feel the full impact of an unremarkable transcript. At the time, my older brother’s difficulties overshadowed my own; he was diagnosed with ADHD in 1974, and then after failing eighth grade, he was sent to boarding school to get the help he needed.