Landmark middle school student Fall

This Is It

by Brittany Kenney

As John and Heather Leslie left a Landmark Admission visit with their son Nick, a seventh grader, there was an unusual silence in the car. John and Heather feared the worst. School was a growing source of anxiety for them all—and yet here they were, visiting another school, this one thousands of miles away from their home in London. After several minutes Nick broke his silence, “This is it,” he said “These people understand me, these people can help me.”


For years prior, Nick had been attending an American school in the UK (the Leslie’s are American, but were living abroad for work) and was not getting the services he needed to succeed. Throughout his life, Heather, a former teacher, had tutored Nick in the summer, reviewing and reinforcing all the things he learned during the school year. But the older he got, the more difficult this became. By the time he reached seventh grade, the achievement gap was becoming too large for Heather to keep up with on her own. As luck would have it, one of Nick’s teachers at his school in London was a former Landmark faculty member and suggested that Heather and John contact the school.


Before they knew it, Nick was a residential student at Landmark—and thriving! John and Heather were astonished by the change in their son, and they were incredibly grateful to the teachers who made it possible. “Landmark structures small classes that are grouped by student skill, not grade, so learning can be targeted to what that group of students needs. It allows for tremendous flexibility and provides a path for growth and success. At one point, Nick was taking a LiPS tutorial, and at the same time reading The Iliad. He needed help with phonemic awareness, but his reading comprehension was very high. Where else could that happen? Nick’s teachers at Landmark know him so well, and that has made all the difference for him,” said Heather. 

A few years after Nick started at Landmark, Heather and John moved back to the Boston area. When they gave Nick the choice to attend Landmark as a day student, he adamantly chose to remain as a resident because of how much he enjoyed the on-campus experience. Both inside and outside of the classroom, Nick had found his home away from home.  


When thinking about their commitment to the 50 Forward Campaign, they knew immediately that they wanted to support teachers. John, who is also on Landmark’s Board of Trustees, explained, “with Heather’s background in teaching, our family is acutely aware of some of the hardships that go along with being a teacher, and we also know the joy and fulfillment it brings. We want to acknowledge the amazing work Landmark teachers are doing, and are honored to contribute to the Bob Broudo Excellence in Service Fund, so that teachers receive more monetary recognition of their life-changing work.” 

In June 2021 Nick will graduate from Landmark. His biggest decision now is deciding which of his top three colleges to attend next year. His possibilities are endless.

John and Heather Leslie

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