middle school students in classroom wearing masks

Sam Bresnahan

Unswerving Self-Determination

by Peter Harris

Sam Bresnahan left Landmark at the end of seventh grade to attend Miles River Middle School in nearby Hamilton, Massachusetts. As his Language Arts teacher during his final year at the Elementary • Middle School, I was impressed by Sam's work ethic and intrinsic motivation to surpass teacher expectations. As we moved into the spring of that year, talk of transition began. Would Sam succeed back in public school? Was he ready to face the challenges of a less structured academic environment? These were the questions that Sam's case manager, Jay Flannery, and his teachers were helping to answer. Everyone who had worked with Sam at Landmark had observed one highly reassuring factor -– Sam's initiative. Sam had acquired the ability to independently assess an academic challenge, institute a strategy, and see that plan through to a superior outcome. Last November, Sam's English teacher asked him to write a narrative composition about a time when he gained new perspective. Sam chose to write about his experience at Landmark, and how it impacted his life. The following is an excerpt from Sam's narrative.

“After three years at Landmark, I was able to come back into the public school system. When I was at Landmark, I learned some skills that helped me learn in a different way. The Landmark teaching methods helped me to understand concepts better. These skills helped me tremendously so that when I came back into the public school system, I was able to get high honors for all four quarters of my eighth grade year. This was a big accomplishment for me because I did not know if I could succeed transferring back into public school.

The new perspective that I have gained is that when something in life is not going well, you need to make a change. For me, Landmark School was that change. Another lesson I learned is that if you take the time and work hard at fixing something, it will pay off for you in the long run. I think that I will have even more of a new perspective about my experience at Landmark School when I am older.”

Sam went on to Hamilton Wenham Regional High School where he was a three-sport athlete and honor roll student. He played football, ice hockey, and lacrosse for the Hamilton Wenham Generals. In the classroom as well as on the field or ice, Sam's formula for success remained unchanged: set a goal and go after it with a resolute and unswerving self-determination.