What is the LSC?

Mountain Connection, November 7th, 2022

 Andrew Pontbriand joined the SMS faculty full time in August, and his impact on the community has already been profound. He heads the new Learning Support Center, which spans both campuses and offers academic enrichment services for students in grades 6-12. Parents, faculty, and students have already noted how integral the program is for ensuring that all SMS students receive the guidance they need for success. The goal for the LSC is, fundamentally, to build students’ confidence and self-reliance through individualized support. In the best of ways, therefore, Andrew strives to work himself out of a job (per student, anyway), in that his ambition is to assist every student in gaining autonomy by refining their individual approaches to their own work, a process that he develops in conjunction with students during their regular meetings. As we know, the demands for high school nowadays are complex and wide-spread, and the experience can often seem overwhelming for any student, particularly those with identified learning differences. Andrew is outstanding at humanizing such demands and helping students to manage their own particular outcomes. As he puts it, “Setting goals and developing strategies with students is a collaborative process. Each student has a unique learning background and skill set, and they often know best what works in the context of their personal learning style. That said, providing students with structured choice is a key aspect of my approach.” He coaches students during their free periods on a regular basis, and his conversations involve not only the details of academic subject matter (what to know for class), but likewise the processes of time management, organization, and strategic planning (what to know about class, itself). In consequence, therefore, he needs to know something about everything.

   Fortunately for SMS, Andrew has extensive knowledge in a wide range of fields. He graduated summa cum laude from Colorado College with a degree in Geology and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Societies. He has worked as an academic consultant and tutor in various capacities and across disciplines including math, science, analytical writing, written expression, and computer science, among other fields. Likewise, prior to the 2022-2023 academic year, he was often on campus at the Upper School as a hired, independent tutor, so he already knew the school community quite well. Hence, it was no surprise that, after conducting a national search for the position, Andrew rose to the top. To supplement his specialist role, this year he’s teaching a weekly seminar for freshmen called Academic Skills Seminar, which helps him to keep a finger on the pulse of the curriculum and to see its logistical and pedagogical concerns through the eyes of both faculty and students. He likewise stays informed of the individual needs of the students with whom he works, and guides faculty in ensuring that they receive any needed accommodations in class, such as extended time or preferred seating. Moreover, he travels to the Emerald Campus twice weekly to work with individual students there. In essence, he provides much-needed oversight and coordination between various constituencies, and his influence greatly assists all faculty and students on an everyday basis, even when we don’t immediately see it. He adds, “Working as the Learning Support Coordinator at SMS provides such a great opportunity to be able to work with students from so many different academic backgrounds. It’s always rewarding to help students find meaning in their academic pursuits, and to see success in areas that were previously unfamiliar or challenging to them.” By helping to level the playing field for all, Andrew assists everyone at SMS to realize the ambition of joyful learning.