Art Of Learning

For Lainie Hansen, necessity has been the mother of invention, but she’s turned that challenge into a life-changing experience for others.
Text by Cristina Zuazua | June 2, 2018 | People

As the Owner & Director of Rosemont Academy in Miami, a small private school for students requiring individualized learning experiences and teaching students with high-functioning autism, Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, and similar issues, Lainie Hansen has never stopped looking for ways to improve her methods. Hansen’s call to action came when her daughter was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when she was just 3 years old. “Socially, she was very awkward,” she recalls, “but academically she was already very, very bright.” After searching high and low for a school that would challenge her academically as well as address her social quirks, she couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.
At the time, Hansen had been a teacher for many years with an expertise in gifted education, so she decided to take the bull by the horns. “I remember sitting in waiting rooms while my daughter was in speech or occupational therapy, and I would be chatting with moms who were so worried because they were told that their child wasn’t using the right pronouns in conversation or holding their pencils properly,” she shares. “As they’re telling me this, their child is sitting there reconfiguring the mom’s cell phone. I thought to myself, the child may not be able to hold a pencil properly, but that kid is acting like almost every gifted child I’ve ever taught. From that moment, it became very obvious to me that I needed to start a school that catered to the strengths of these particular kids.”
One example of the school’s unique teaching system includes exercises that help students shine in the spotlight. At Rosemont, each classroom has a “greeter” — students who welcome visitors when they walk into the class. The greeter will say something like, “Hello. Welcome to Rosemont Academy and my classroom.” Hansen smiles, recalling a 1st grader who, she explains fondly, takes the job very seriously and greets visitors, introduces every child and teacher in the class, leads the visitor around the room on a tour, and answers any questions they might have. To recognize the girl’s efforts, the school, which Hansen named after her grandmother, Rose, created an “Employee Of The Year” certificate for her and gave her a gift card for Toys ‘R’ Us.
The brightest moments for Hansen come from seeing her students thrive. “It’s all about watching my students defy previous expectations each and every day,” she says. “If I had a dollar for every time one of my students defied some ‘expert’s’ definitive prediction, I would have a mountain of money!”;