Here at Eagle Hill, we’re immensely proud of our students—past, present, and future. Most did not have their needs met in their previous school and felt defeated by a system that couldn’t lift them up.
The EHS experience delivers on the promise of giving every child a chance to unlock the mystery of how their mind works. This is their opportunity to feel adequate and confident that they CAN learn and with unlimited patience, their teachers are their partners. Success can be described in many ways here at Eagle Hill, but it is always measured against the backdrop of hope.
Our alums rarely mention the skills and content of their learning (though we all agree it is essential), but they recall, with uncanny accuracy, the teacher who made them feel confident or challenged or inspired. With that in mind, our Alumni Updates will be largely dedicated to testimonies from our graduates and their reflections on the teachers that mattered.
Class of 2011
Rebecca Karnani, also known as Bec, is a junior at the University of California San Diego, where she is majoring in Economics and Mathematics and minoring in Critical Gender Studies. She hopes to work in finance, with the goal of helping women.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT EAGLE HILL THAT HELPED YOU MANAGE YOUR LEARNING DIFFERENCES?
The biggest thing that I learned was to ask for help. I had amazing teachers who really empowered me with my education. I came to Eagle Hill from a public school, so that transition was a little bit tough at times due to having to leave my friends. But everyone was so welcoming.
WHAT LEARNING DIFFERENCES DID YOUR TEACHERS SPECIFICALLY HELP YOU WITH?
I have ADHD, so definitely learning how to focus in class and learning what I had to do to focus was important. When I went to school in Australia [after attending Eagle Hill], I would really try hard to sit in the front of the classroom, because I think that is where I focus better.
I also knew that for me to be able to study effectively, I had to be alone. That’s because I found studying with other people distracting. I remember my Eagle Hill study skills class was one that stood out to me because we did a lot of work on ways that would help us learn the best. I definitely took those skills with me. I still do things that I learned at Eagle Hill.
WHAT WERE YOU TAUGHT AT EAGLE HILL THAT REALLY RESONATED WITH YOU? LEARNING TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF WAS ONE – IS THAT RIGHT?
Yes definitely. Ms. Kimberg, my science teacher, took us for walks around campus and let us explore and learn about topics that interested us. I think that was really unique. I think she would love where I am now. Miss Martin, my math teacher, laid the groundwork for my becoming a math major. I had a really tough time with having to move to Australia and Ms. Quinn helped me get through it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR CURRENT EAGLE HILL STUDENTS?
Take what you learn at Eagle Hill and really try to apply it to the rest of your life. For me, it was about learning not to let my ADHD stop me from doing what I wanted to do.
I knew that if I really wanted to achieve what I wanted to, I could. I just had to figure out ways for that to happen. If that meant having to study a little extra than my friends, or figuring out ways to study more effectively, then that is what I have had to do.
Just make sure you are not having a mental block like, “Oh I have learning difficulties, so I can’t be this sort of person.”
Today when I tell friends that I have ADHD, they are always so shocked. Well, I spent the last twenty-one years learning how to navigate around that and figuring out the best way to learn for me. I really don’t know what my life would be like without having attended Eagle Hill.
It is exciting to learn that students are getting the same help that I did. It’s important for students to know that they can achieve anything they want to.
Class of 2006
Julia Karnani earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biomolecular Science from Macquarie University. She works in a pathology laboratory in the biochemistry department.
WHAT ORIGINALLY BROUGHT YOU TO EAGLE HILL?
I went to an all-girls school when I was little. I just thought it was normal how I learned, how I was being treated in class, and how I was being tutored. When I struggled with reading aloud, kids laughed at me. I came to Eagle Hill, and there was no bullying. It’s a very accepting place.
A lot of kids get bullied before they come to Eagle Hill because they are different. Kids at other schools don’t understand that people learn differently. It can be traumatizing. It can be heartbreaking not fitting in. I really felt I fit in at Eagle Hill.
HOW DID EAGLE HILL HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR LEARNING DIFFERENCES?
I started to get more confident in reading. English class was very good. It was the independent reading aspect that really helped me. Being able to choose my own books that were based on my interests really made a difference. I started getting into mysteries, and now I’m into reading crime novels! Before that, I was struggling with reading, but [at Eagle Hill] I gained confidence and started to read at my grade level.
I always did well with mathematics. Being in a class that was at my level was so helpful. That is why Eagle Hill works. Programs are designed for the individual. I started to play field hockey. I started getting social. I started to come out of my shell.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST OF THE BOARDING PROGRAM?
I lived close by, so I was not boarding because of the distance. Joy Delisle and the staff made a huge difference in my life. They helped not just with my confidence, but they understood my feelings and helped me understand them too. I would have anxiety and emotional episodes where I didn’t know what was happening to me.
Joy helped me develop coping mechanisms, and helped me understand that it’s okay to have these emotions. I learned I shouldn’t have to hide from them. I should embrace them and work through them. If I had a particularly anxious day and wanted to block everyone out, the boarding program taught me how to work through that, fight that, and process those emotions. I still carry that with me.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL KIDS TODAY ABOUT HOW THE BOARDING PROGRAM HELPED YOU?
It is a great program for getting yourself out of your comfort zone, learning to adapt to people your own age, and gaining social skills. I encourage the school to expand it, because so many kids would benefit from it.
Not seeing your parents [on weekdays] is a small price to pay for getting skills you can use not just in adolescence but for the rest of your life. Those skills include learning how to coexist with your peers, as well as learning how to negotiate and compromise.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH CURRENT STUDENTS?
To a lot of first-year students who are not coming from an ideal situation - don’t get discouraged.
If you struggle, identify those struggles. Identify what is bothering you and work through it. You can reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is no darkness. Persevering and seeing it through is the key to a lot of great outcomes even with learning disabilities. If it takes you five tries, that sixth try is when you are going to get it done. And then you accomplish what you wanted to do. See the light.