For the founders of Pinecrest’s Linden Prep, education is far from one size fits all.
Teacher/Counselor, Eileen Vento and School Psychologist, Dr. Valentina Libra, founded the K-12 school on the notion that options could only create success for both parents and students when it came to curriculum.
“Families today want more of an individualized approach to learning,” says Vento, the school’s program director. “Parents want to have a hand in their child’s curriculum and help them evolve certain types of skills. That’s what we excel at. If they struggle with reading we will work more in that area. On the flip side, if they show an interest in, or propensity for, science we can nurture that as well.”
Linden Prep does this through a combination of small class size and individual educational plans.
Though currently at about five-to-one, Vento says their goal is to keep the student-teacher ratio at under 11 as the school grows, as well as to continue their focus on constant evaluation and adjustment, making sure the style implemented for each student is the best option. “After Dr. Libra [who acts as the school’s clinical director] evaluates the student, a curriculum is made for that child,” says Vento. “The child is taught the lesson individually in a learning style that suits them, while weaker areas are strengthened.”
Vento says they also cater to families who are looking for an alternative to regular schooling, specifically children who may need extra time for athletic training (their school day runs 8 am – 2pm), who are looking to graduate early or who are on a home school track. While most students enter the school before eighth grade, Vento says they do work with high schoolers on a “case-by-case” basis.
Staying true to her desire to give each child their own “track,” Vento recently entered into a partnership with Microsoft, allowing students who have a particular interest in coding or design to go into the Microsoft store for classes. “We want to start shaping them, to give them experience in the areas they are interested in,” she says.
Vento is also dedicated to finding the right balance between computer work (the students use computers and iPads in classes) and traditional book learning, stressing the importance of bringing both learning styles in the classroom. “There has to be a healthy balance between the two,” she says, noting they also place a heavy emphasis on handwriting (including learning to write in cursive). “Students tap into another side of the brain that helps settle us.”
As the school grows and expands its offerings (Vento is especially proud of the burgeoning music program) it continues to be a labor of love for the two professionals, who say helping parents and students was at top of mind when building their dream school. “Between Dr. Libra and myself, we both had the clinical expertise to develop a program that was custom made for each child, after having done it in a different setting for so many years,” she says. “We were ready to create a school together, that addressed every child’s needs, even as they grow and progress.”
Linden Preparatory is located at 7600 SW 104th St. in Pinecrest. For more information, please call 786-338-8505 or visit lindenprep.org.