My daughter was fortunate to attend Science and Math Institute from Fall 2012 until she graduated in Spring of 2016. AiPing was adopted from a Chinese orphanage at the age of twelve. Her middle school years were spent attempting to adjust to a new family, culture, and a difficult, confusing language. After speaking with the SAMI principal Mrs. Tinder about AiPing’s circumstances, we were encouraged to have AiPing apply to SAMI, hoping that the values of Community, Empathy, Thinking, and Balance would truly be practiced.
While I am certain that SAMI serves a wide variety of students well, AiPing’s unusual situation required both administration and individual instructors to approach her education in a thoughtful and understanding way, while assisting her to maintain the high standards she expected of herself. AiPing had valued academic achievement in China, and wished to prove that, despite ongoing language and background struggles, she could do well. A spirit of encouragement and enthusiasm was evident from the beginning, from her mentor teacher Mrs. Woodward to all of the other faculty, even those she didn’t have for class! Not only did her teachers provide added academic support to compensate for gaps, but they also observed her interpersonal interactions, reporting to me that she had made some wonderful friends.
Many of AiPing’s teachers provided her with extra interests, including Mr. Devine, who took time to instruct her on his electronic DJ equipment so she could assist at school dances! During her final year of Calculus 3-4, Mr. Chalberg frequently made himself available to coach her in the subject while assisting her with college applications, along with Mrs. Woodward. AiPing learned to feel that she was valued as a student AND as as a developing young person who could do wonderful things.
The creativity, energy, and compassion AiPing experienced from staff every day during her SAMI experience provided a means for her to show her strengths, overcome her obstacles, and achieve at the highest level. Because of the relationships she had with teachers, her interests were directed and focused; her struggles were understood, and her successes were met with joy. The values of Community, Empathy, Thinking, and Balance were indeed apparent in AiPing’s SAMI experience.