Guest authors inspire at Eagle Hill

Eagle Hill teacher Cathy McSweeny and student Austyn Therrien practicing his introductory speech in honor of authors Jake and Janet Tashjian’s visit to EHS. Austyn and his classmates served as the “Welcome Committee” and later presented their work to the Lower School prior to the Tashjians’ presentation.

Eagle Hill teacher Cathy McSweeny and student Austyn Therrien practicing his introductory speech in honor of authors Jake and Janet Tashjian’s visit to EHS. Austyn and his classmates served as the “Welcome Committee” and later presented their work to the Lower School prior to the Tashjians’ presentation.

Every year Eagle Hill, a school for children with language-based learning disabilities, brings authors on campus to speak with the students and share their stories.

While the guests may vary in subject matter and writing styles, each presents a unique opportunity for the children to learn and grow as individuals.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the entire student body becomes actively involved in the preparation.

Teachers incorporate lessons based on the writer’s books as well as on related topics like public speaking, hospitality, advertising and marketing.

This is an excellent way for students to have a hands-on experience while also learning about the different components that go into an event.

As a part of this fall’s visit, Cathy McSweeny’s literature class served as the Lower School welcome committee for authors Janet and Jake Tashjian. Best known for their books Einstein the Class Hamster, Einstein and the Very Real Game Show, My Life as a Book, and their newest one, My Life as a Joke, the charismatic pair was a favorite among the students.

Mrs. McSweeny’s class worked to raise awareness and generate publicity as well as to provide thank-you gifts. They also wrote and practiced an introduction for the authors, which they later presented at the Lower School assembly.

Eagle Hill believes that every occasion is an opportunity to learn. For students, the Tashjians were not only an incredible presentation on the life of an author, but also a chance to hear one family’s story of adapting to the challenges that are associated with learning differences.

The pair demonstrated the power of determination and perseverance as well as shared a common understanding for the obstacles facing Eagle Hill students daily.

Mr. Tashjian, who is now a young adult, had severe reading struggles as a youth.

Over the years, he developed creative techniques to help improve his comprehension, such as drawing cartoons to better explain vocabulary words.

Today, he is the illustrator for the books that he co-creates with his mother.

From the beginning to the end, the Tashjians reached students on a variety of levels.

Whether it was through the planning and preparation phase or the presentation itself, each Eagle Hill student walked away inspired and with a better understanding for hospitality and events.

Eagle Hill School is in its 40th year of helping children with language-based learning disabilities acquire the academic and social skills necessary for transition to a traditional learning environment. 250 students ages six to 16 enjoy an educational experience that the school says is skills rather than grade-driven.

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