Paloma Harker ’23 hasn’t always loved English class: “I’ve always loved stories … but I never liked writing, never liked reading,” she explains. Math and science were more her strengths.
At Lawrence Academy, however, her English classes have been among her favorites.
“Everything is based on how we learn,” Paloma notes, touching on the school’s focus on student-centered learning. “All my teachers really care about what’s going on with me – what’s going on at home, what’s going on in my life in regards to school [and otherwise] … and they’re very approachable and easy to talk to. So the classes are mostly structured on … how we can interact with each other while still learning our subjects.”
It’s not just Paloma’s teachers who adapt to their students’ needs. She works with a learning coach, Danielle Doherty, who addressed Paloma’s specific needs as a learner from the get-go.
“She asked me what I struggle with,” Paloma remembers of their first meeting. Because organization is important, but an area of weakness, for Paloma, the two immediately got to work determining Paloma’s favorite modes of organization and how to implement them into her life at LA.
“It’s really a good relationship that I have with her. She helps me, and we’ll talk about what’s going on in my life [and] at school,” Paloma says. “She really helps me stay super organized and stay on top of what I have [to do].”
It’s worked: During her freshman year, Paloma was awarded high honors distinction.
“I’ve always prided myself on my grades … and going into high school, I was really scared that things were going to be harder,” she reflects, “but I really found that my teachers were using all their efforts to help me strive to succeed … and my relationship with my teachers really has helped me believe in myself.”
As both a student-athlete and a student-artist at LA, a circus performer since the age of six, and a woman of color, Paloma was especially interested in finding a diverse, inclusive high school that would support her varied interests, both on and off campus.
“What really drew me into LA was the community based around sports and arts,” Paloma says, also noting the growing number of students of color on campus and the interest in her circus training from both her peers and her teachers. “There’s not really a divide … between people, and I wanted to have a community that everyone was included in everything.”
Now that she’s a co-leader of 1899, Lawrence Academy’s women’s club, Paloma works with the heads of the school’s other identity-based groups (dubbed Concordia Clubs) to foster change and progress on campus that will benefit the entire school community.
“We can bring all our ideas together … and we can learn from each other, even though we’re all different,” Paloma says. “We can all come together and produce a really nice outcome for our school.”