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Learning Support Services


In alignment with the mission of The Bolles School, Learning Support Services supports the Bolles community by providing access to individual and small group assistance, strategies for learning success, and reasonable accommodations.


We believe in empowering all students to achieve their fullest potential as members of the Bolles community. Our goals are:
  • to develop self-aware, self-determined and reflective learners who advocate for their needs by accessing all educational opportunities;
  • to help students realize their strengths and embrace challenges as learning experiences;
  • to encourage students to access the resources they need to thrive.

Learning Tips

From The Kids Health from Nemours Website
With sections “For Parents” (see “School and Family Life”) , “For Kids,” and “For Teens” (see “School and Jobs”), there are great articles on topics such as getting homework done more effectively, seeking help if a child is struggling in school, and improving organizational strategies.

A wonderful feature of the site is that you can listen to any of the articles simply by clicking on the audio icon next to the title.

Here is a link to a very empathetic and encouraging article for students on test anxiety:

From The University of Pennsylvania Student Health Services:

Study Tips for Final Exams

1. How Much is it Worth? Be aware of how final tests count toward your final grade. Since the exam is probably worth only a percent of the course grade, your exam grade may not affect your final grade too much unless you do exceptionally well or poorly than you did on other exams and assignments. Still, you should try to do as well as possible on the exam, especially if it is a significant percentage of final average.

2. Begin Studying Early: You should begin studying a week to ten days before an exam, particularly if you have several exams to take. Cramming is an ineffective way to prepare for finals.

3. Create a Learning Environment: This environment should be comfortable, but not too relaxing, be free of distractions, and be well-lit. You should also have enough room to spread out your texts and notes.

4. Study in Chunks: Your studying will be more effective if you concentrate for a period of time, and then take short breaks. Do not stop enjoying your favorite activities, but do so in proportion to studying.

5. Work When you Concentrate the Best: If you are a morning person, do your most difficult studying before noon. If you work well at night, stick to that schedule.

6. Rewrite your Notes: Delete any extraneous information that does not support the critical material. Form outlines of each chapter or unit and try to process course content as a whole.

7. Take Advantage of Every Moment: Use breaks in your exam schedule, if you have them, to study for upcoming exams. Catch up on missed reading, or work a few math problems. Remember, use your time wisely.

8. Study Graded Tests: Since you were tested on the material previously, you should probably expect it on the final. Concentrate on missed questions, and make sure you know and understand the correct answer.

9. Know What Works for You: Study according to your learning style. If you are a visual learner, prepare charts, diagrams, or outlines of the material. If you are an auditory learner, listen to taped lectures and group discussions.

10. Form a Study Group... Carefully: Invite some conscientious students, not friends for socializing, to study with you. Compare notes, quiz each other, and help everyone stay on task.

11. Rest Up: It may seem counter-intuitive, but do not stay up late the night before an exam cramming! One of the best things you can do the night before an exam is to get a full eight hours of sleep. Adequate sleep will improve your concentration and memory, and boost your critical thinking skills. A good night’s sleep will let you give your best performance on this important test.

And here’s help for getting ready to write an essay on an exam:


Class Notes: The main rule of thumb here is: more is better. In other words, it is usually better to take more notes than fewer. You can always separate the central from the peripheral points later.

If you can’t take neat notes the first time around (what good are they if you can’t decipher them at exam time?), copy them as soon as possible into a separate notebook. This has the added advantage of giving you a first "review" of the material, and letting you catch areas of confusion right away so you can ask about them in the next class session.

Readings: Never simply read a text without either highlighting/underlining key points or taking notes on it. Although this means taking longer to do a reading assignment, it’s worth it. This method will save you time later on, because it will give you a way of quickly reviewing your reading, rather than trying to re-read everything. This assumes, of course, that you are doing the readings according to the schedule on the course syllabus.


Step One: At least three days before the exam, take about an hour (no more!) simply to read over your notes from the class sessions. At this point, do not try to study "intensely" (e.g., by trying to memorize things); JUST READ THEM THROUGH. Then do a read-through of the notes you have taken on your readings or of the sections you have highlighted. If you find yourself very confused, consult with your professor--that’s what office hours are for!

Step Two: At least two full days before the exam, go back over your lecture notes. This time, go through them slowly, taking a few hours if necessary. Use a highlighter to mark important points (definitions, key events, etc.) and use a separate sheet of paper to jot down (1) central themes/ideas; and (2) areas where you are weak and will need extra "drilling." Then go over the summaries (or highlighted sections) of your readings again, marking central themes and weak points on that separate sheet, which has become your "master outline."

If your professor has given you specific study questions or the exact exam questions, focus your review on these questions, and end the session by writing an outline of answers you’d give to them.

Step Three: On the night before the exam (or the morning of, if the exam isn’t too early in the day and you have a block of time available), review the "master outline" sheet with central ideas and weak points. Spend extra time on the weak areas if you need to.

If you have specific study questions or the exact exam questions, write out your answers as a kind of "dry run." Then compare your answers with your notes. Spend extra time on the weak areas if you need to.


Finally, making a large “master calendar” - one that is very visible, easy to add to and satisfying to cross off “done deals” - can be a very helpful organizational tool. Several families have added large white boards to their children’s rooms or study areas for this purpose.

Does your family have any survival tips that might help others achieve a strong finish to the school year? Email the learning specialists, and we will share them here!

Securing Support Services

Learning Support Services provides information, strategies and support to students with diagnosed learning disabilities, to students not performing as expected within the Bolles academic framework, to teachers, and to parents.

Lower School

If a teacher is concerned about a student’s performance, he or she must first communicate the concerns to the parents. The teacher explains to the parents the classroom supports and strategies used to help the student. During this conversation, if the teacher wishes to involve the learning specialist, he or she must inform the parents of this decision, and the referral process begins. After the teacher has met with the parents and explained the need for referral, the principal receives the referral. Once the principal approves the referral, she forwards the Learning Support Services Request Form to the learning specialist and the support process begins.

The Lower School learning specialist may provide academic screenings, classroom observation, data collection, short-term push-in classroom support, short-term pullout student support, admissions process participation, provision of testing accommodations, classwork modifications, and recommendations for outside referrals.

Middle and Upper School

The Bolles School provides reasonable accommodations in alignment with the mission of the School for students with documented learning disabilities. The School does not provide modifications to the curriculum.

Students requesting accommodations must provide current documentation (within the last 3 years) that meets the following requirements:
  • Contains a statement addressing the student’s specific disability
  • Addresses relevant educational, developmental, and medical history of the student
  • Includes test scores/measures of cognitive and academic testing and a narrative description of the results
  • Defines functional limitations supported by the test results
  • Describes the specific accommodations recommended and a rationale for how the accommodations support the disability
  • States the professional credentials of the tester
Students/parents requesting extended time for standardized tests, including the Otis-Lennon, ERB/CTP, PSAT, SAT, or ACT must contact the learning specialist who will assist in requesting the accommodations. The learning specialist submits accommodation requests to the appropriate agency at least eight weeks prior to the testing date.

The learning specialists provide the implementation of reasonable accommodations at each campus:

Lower School

  • Extended time
  • Untimed tests and projects within reasonable limits
  • Keyboarding
  • Spelling exemptions: Spelling is graded only if spelling is the stated objective of the assessment
  • Choice of script versus manuscript handwriting
  • Reduction of items
  • Rote material given early to learn
  • Tests and assignments read aloud
  • Push-in and pull-out services with
    the learning specialist
  • Use of text-to-speech software to read aloud tests (Read & Write Gold)
  • Use of dictation via assistive technology

Middle School

  • + 50% extended time
  • Distraction-free testing environment
  • Reformatting of tests
  • Keyboarding
  • Use of text-to-speech software to read aloud tests (Read & Write Gold)
  • Teacher-provided notes
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Spelling exemption: Spelling is graded only if spelling is the stated objective of the assessment
  • Use of dictation software is being piloted

Upper School

  • +50% extended time
  • Distraction-free testing environment
  • Reformatting of tests
  • Keyboarding
  • Use of text-to-speech software to read aloud tests (Read & Write Gold)
  • Use of a 4-function calculator
  • Use of dictation software being piloted
  • Peer note taking

Bolles Learning Specialists

The learning specialists are dedicated to supporting the academic success of all students. Students and learning specialists develop strong, collaborative relationships through positive, confidential communication. Learning specialists create a supportive environment and encourage students to share their accomplishments, pursue their dreams, and to seek assistance in overcoming barriers to success. Learning specialists are available at all campuses, for lower, middle, and upper school students.

Learning specialists provide students with individualized and small group assistance, including but not limited to, educational planning, testing accommodations, time management, and organizational skills. A resource to parents, the learning specialists respond to questions and concerns, and work with families to address the students’ needs. Learning specialists collaborate with faculty and administration on best practices.

Kathy Rawlins

Kathy Rawlins
Lower School Learning Specialist

Mary Moriarty

Mary Moriarty
Middle School Learning Specialist

Katy Garcia

Katy Garcia
Upper School Learning Specialist

Claudia Rae

Claudia Rae
Upper School Learning Specialist