We are so pleased to be able to write this letter recommending Larry Cecio as your child's teacher. I would like to share our family's experience with working with Mr. Cecio for the past three years.
Our son, Will, joined Mr. Cecio at Acorn Montessori School in Lebanon, New Jersey, in fourth grade. Will's experience in our local public school had been disastrous and, had we known better, we would have changed schools a lot sooner. Will is a bright, personable and creative kid with ADHD. At times, he is unfocused, distractable and quite wiggly. For a variety of reasons, we have chosen never to medicate him. The solution for these issues during four years of public school (K through 3rd grade) was to seat him next to the teacher so she could constantly nag him and to punish him for his behaviors by taking away recess. By the time we found Mr. Cecio, Will was crying every night and every morning about how much he hated school and he had developed an almost compulsive paralysis of his right arm, which prevented him from putting pencil to paper. We finally searched for an alternative to public schooling because of how miserable our child was and how severe his symptoms had become. Larry Cecio guided our son through an almost miraculous transformation and we will be forever grateful for his work on behalf of Will.
Shortly after starting fourth grade, Mr. Cecio explained to us that he did not expect a lot out of Will in the way of productivity for some months. He told us that, in his experience, making the transition to Montessori at that late an age required some time for the child to get used to the new learning style. He also told us that he expected that it would take Will about four or five months to adjust to the classroom and really start doing some work. Well, this is news that is not easy to hear when you've watched your kid struggle for years and are now paying for private school in the hope of salvaging his elementary education, but we felt we needed to trust Mr. Cecio and put our faith in his expertise and experience. Sure enough, four or five months later, Will became engaged and actually started enjoying school for the first time in his life.
Part of this success came from the emotional connection he was able to form with Mr. Cecio. Mr. Cecio respects each child's individuality, both their strengths and the areas in which they are challenged, and is endlessly creative in finding ways to tailor his teaching approach to the needs and abilities of the child. I do not believe that Will ever felt judged by Mr. Cecio (as he had in public school); rather, he felt accepted and appreciated for who he was. Will is strong in verbal ability, so Mr. Cecio gave him a lot of freedom in writing stories and essays about topics that interested him. Will is weak in math, so Mr. Cecio invented a method that would engage Will and excite him about doing math. Beyond this, he was tuned in enough to Will to help him switch gears when he was hitting a wall and blow off steam when frustrated. His training in the program Boys and Girls Learn Differently (which I wish all public school teachers were required to complete!) is another asset he brings to understanding learning needs of different children.
Our son is a different person today than he was three years ago thanks to Larry Cecio. We feel that any parent can feel confident that their children's educational and emotional needs will be met under the guidance of this talented, compassionate man.
Jennifer Petrillo, M.D. and David Holbrook, M.D.
Bloomsbury, New Jersey