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When every student has a champion,
everyone wins.


Our commitment to support students and individual learning profiles has been the cornerstone of the School since its founding by Lloyd Harvey Hatch nearly 100 years ago.  For students, Winchendon’s Academic Support program helps them to become confident, independent learners, and empowers them through their years at Winchendon, college and beyond.  Confidence and self-esteem are integral to a successful learning process.


Our Philosophy 

Learning Advocacy is a supported path for students to achieve independent academic success. A common goal for all students in Learning Advocacy is to transition out of the program over their time at the School as they become confident, independent, self-directed learners.




Learning Advocacy is purposefully built into the academic day and tailored to meet each student’s individual needs and learning profile.  Students are paired with an academic coach (Learning Advocate) who works with the student and parent(s) to develop their own distinctive  Individual Success Plan. In turn, the Learning Advocate will collaborate with other team members, including teachers, coaches, and mentors, and provide regular feedback to the student and parents.  As a School, we consider parents as active members of the “team”, and we recognize the importance of this partnership between the School and family.


At Winchendon, we take a different approach to providing academic support in comparison to our peer schools.  If you’re looking for the “Learning Center” at The Winchendon School, you’ll find it in every classroom and on every dorm floor throughout the campus. Our “Learning Center" is intentionally spread throughout the campus (but, yes, there is a dedicated learning space in Ford Hall). All Faculty at The Winchendon School are purposely trained in teaching to, and supporting a variety of learning styles. Why? Because we believe that many of the practices that serve students with specific LD can enhance the learning experiences of most if not all students and should be put in practice in almost every classroom. More often than not the best approaches for working with kids with LD are just plain best educational practices.

Through our individual supports, accommodations, advocacy, and coaching in the development of new strategies, 

- many students with a range of mild to moderate learning differences and neurocognitive challenges, including the following:

Dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia
Language-based learning disabilities
Lower processing or working memory speeds
Executive Functioning/ADHD 
Diminished self-confidence or low self-esteem
Testing or social anxiety

- have found great success at Winchendon and then have gone on to thrive at many top colleges and universities.

Some key areas of focus for the Learning Advocacy team include time management, study skills, organization and planning, and other executive function support, progress monitoring, student comprehension exploration, and metacognitive work on student performance.  The goal of the program is to encourage students to gain independence and confidence in order to decrease over time, the amount of support needed so that all students in the Learning Advocacy program are prepared for college and the workplace.  

Learning Advocates and the College Counseling Office work together to make sure that students with learning profiles have applied for accommodations on major tests such as the SAT, ACT, and TOEFL, as well as subject tests and AP exams. 


It’s simple. Winchendon School graduates come back and tell us that the skills they practiced through our Learning Advocacy program empower them to thrive through their college years and beyond…



Winch Skills and Habits 101

Winch Skills and Habits 101 (WiSH101) is a workshop for all new underclassmen each fall.   These once-a-week seminars introduce you to tools, strategies, and habits designed to help you make the transition to the faster pace of high school.

WiSH 101 is the perfect place for new students to learn more about themselves and their new school. The class meets weekly for the first eight weeks of the year.


Executive Functioning Classes 

The Winchendon School is adopting (has adopted) the SMARTS + executive functioning curriculum to support students in the important work of internalizing strategies that will give them an academic boost. The program supports the development of a student’s planning, organization, time management, initiation and self-monitoring. These classes are taught by a learning advocate but are not exclusively for students with a learning difference.  Members of the Learning Advocacy team and some of the faculty will be trained in the SMARTS+ curriculum July 2019, we believe that is the next piece to the evolving LA curriculum here at Winchendon. 

Learning Advocacy 


This is the most comprehensive level of Academic Support Winchendon offers. During admissions, a thorough review of previous school records and testing, combined with parental input, forms the basis of a tailored learning plan ensuring we have the full picture of each student as a whole person - where they need support, and how do they learn? The student is assisted in identifying strengths and barriers to learning. Accommodations, learning strategies, and communication plan are reviewed by parents, the student, and faculty. The student then begins with their Individual Success Plan.


At Winchendon, we consider Foundational Support program as our standard level of support and the one most new students enroll in.  With a 5:1 class ratio, students get the support they need, but in a small class setting. Regardless of the level of support, all students in the learning advocacy program get real time feedback in each session and the Learning Advocate is in direct communication with all members of the team on a bi-weekly basis.


Intermediate support is a modified continuation of Foundational Support, it's for students who are mastering some skills, or for those who need ongoing scaffolding. For students entering the program at this level, an Individual Success Plan is developed after a thorough review of the student’s past performance. The plan is reviewed with the student and family, and then shared with the faculty, dorm parents, and coaches who work with the student.

Transitional  Support is a once-a- week class with the student’s Learning Advocate. This level is for the student who can use assistance in planning and organizing time in a fast-paced environment. The Learning Advocate and student collaborate and review past performance and make updates to their Individual Success Plan. The Learning Advocate assists the student in identifying their personal learning style, developing and implementing time management strategies, and practicing self-advocacy.
Evening Study Program

All Winchendon School boarding students participate in structured evening study hall. Open to day students as well, our Evening Study Program (ESP) is designed for students who will benefit from:

  • A distraction-free place to study
  • Guidance from faculty who can help you plan out your assignments
  • Support to help you establish priorities and strategies for assignments, projects, and upcoming assessments  
  • Experience in reviewing your work when done and making sure that it is well organized before you submit it or present it to class.

In ESP, you will work in a small, quiet group setting with an experienced teacher. Each school night, you will tackle that night’s assignments and get ready for the week ahead.  The goal for each student in the program is to progress to the point that extra support is no longer needed.

Is there an extra cost to having an Evening Study Coach and participating in the Evening Study Program?

Yes, and as with Learning Advocacy, the goal of the Evening Study Program is to help you develop the skills and habits to work your way out of the program and to be studying independently. Most students achieve this after a year or two in the program.


Fiona Byrne

Fiona feels as though she was predestined to work in education given her family background. With a professor for a father and a special educator as a mother, education and pedagogy were dinner table topics of discussion. 

Fiona earned her bachelor's degree in Music Education from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. During her studies, she took a number of classes on special education. After graduating from TCD, Fiona wanted to continue studying education, with a specific focus on Special Education and music as a form of therapy. 

While earning her Masters in Special Education from Boston University, Fiona served as a corps member in the Teach for America program. Fiona she taught music and special education in a public school in a low-income community. 

Fiona has been a member of the Learning Advocacy team since Kelly Harris created it some years ago. Winchendon has supported Fiona’s desire for continuous professional development during her time here, most recently completing a graduate-level course in strategies to support executive function.



James O., '19

My learning advocate, Mrs. Harris, and the evening study program have made me a better student and have given me better study strategies. I’ve been able to maintain grades I didn’t think were possible!


Kelly developed her passion for working with students with learning differences after watching a family member struggle to graduate from high school. This was an eye-opening experience for her and is something that she carried with her to Fitchburg State University. While in the undergraduate special education program there, Kelly had the opportunity to work with students in the classroom and in 1:1 educational evaluations. As she completed this program, she wanted to learn more about how students learn to read. This led to her entry in a masters program focused on reading and the development of prerequisite skills. Kelly has earned both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Special Education with a focus in Reading, she is a licensed Special Educator and Reading Specialist.

After completing her degrees, Kelly was fortunate to work in an urban school district where she was able to learn more about how to apply strategies to real-time classroom experiences. This only served as a catalyst, Kelly wanted to learn more about how to support students with language-based learning disabilities in a general education setting. In doing this, Kelly became level 1 Orton Gillingham certified and took master classes in the Hochman writing method. This proved to be great professional development as she was always asking why we were doing things in a certain way of both students and her teaching team.

Since arriving at Winchendon, Kelly has continued her professional training with a focus on metacognition, study strategies, and executive functioning. This work has been the foundation of the WiSH 101 and Learning Advocacy programs.



We've worked in many different independent schools in our careers, and the approach to supporting and challenging all students at The Winchendon School is unparalleled. All of our teachers, and those that support them, know that each and every one of our students can not only do well, but can thrive and excel given consistency and positivity.

laurie lambert signature sean duncan signature

         Laurie Lambert                                       Sean Duncan