NCLD Honors The Windward School
for Leadership & Innovation
Recently, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) presented its Carrie and Pete Rozelle Award to the Windward School of White Plains and New Dorp High School on Staten Island.
Presentation of the award, named for the founders of NCLD, was the centerpiece of the group’s fourth annual “Celebrate Our Schools” luncheon November 4th at the Yale Club. Each year, NCLD honors a public and private school for innovation and leadership in addressing learning and attention challenges.
Presenting the award to Dr. Jay Russell, Head of School at the Windward School was Denis O’Leary, a former Windward student and an analyst at JP Morgan’s Investment Bank. Denis spoke movingly about his experience at Windward, which he attended from 3rd to 5th grade, a time he describes as “a turning point in my life’. Before he came there, his learning disabilities “attacked my feelings of self-worth, confidence and capability.” All of that changed at Windward -- “the lessons I learned there are with me every day and have played a major part in making me the person I am today.”
The award recognized Windward’s exemplary work in research-based instruction to help children overcome learning disabilities. Windward and the other honoree had a special connection—key to the New Dorp transformation was adoption of a writing program created at Windward by Dr. Judith Hochman, former head of school.
Jim Wendorf, NCLD Executive Director, spoke about the organization’s commitment to improving the lives of all people with learning and attention issues and its particular investment in helping schools advance their work with children with learning and attention issues. “NCLD believes that all schools can be as great as the ones we’re celebrating today, schools which exemplify leadership, innovation and success. The awards are especially meaningful this year because they demonstrate the power of a unique collaboration between a public and private school.”
Accepting the award, surrounded by Windward trustees, staff and family members, Dr. Russell emphasized that though in its 35 years the school had transformed the lives of so many struggling students, “thousands more children continue to struggle with language-based learning disabilities because they do not receive the help they need to become confident, successful students and adults. In fact, each year we are forced to turn away two to three times the number of students than we accept for admission.” But, he asserted with pride, Windward is now well on its way to achieving a “watershed” moment with the opening of a New York City campus which will provide more than 350 children the chance to have the education program that changes lives, as it did for Denis. For these students, Dr. Russell said, “we are not merely opening a school, we are unlocking a door.”#