Hamilton Alumni Profiles

 

Since its inception at Wheeler in 1989, Hamilton School has supported bright, curious learners with leading-edge educational strategies to put the accent on strengths not weaknesses.  We are proud of our alumni of the program and happy to share these profiles of their life beyond Hamilton.  Watch for more to come!

 

A group of people gathered for a photo
Some of the Hamilton Alumni panelists who spoke to parents and others at the 2020 Learning Differences Awareness Week event.

John Donegan
Hamilton School Alumnus `05

What grade did you enter Hamilton School?
I entered Hamilton in the First Grade.

What was it that brought you to Hamilton?
I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in kindergarten at my local elementary school and through a private evaluation at Pawtucket Memorial Hospital. By the middle of first grade, while receiving daily resource services and not making progress with reading,  coupled with headaches and avoidance of homework, my parents learned about Hamilton. I started private tutoring with the Orton Gillingham Approach as recommended by the Hamilton School, which yielded positive results in a short time. My family decided to send me to Hamilton, where I would repeat first grade, and attend through middle school.

Talk to us about your learning difference.
I am diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD.

What changed for you at Hamilton?
Hamilton provided me with the skills and confidence to not only manage to live with learning differences but how to leverage them as a positive.

If there was one thing that you could share with a current Hamilton student, what would it be?
It is okay to learn and think differently.

What are some of the long term values of a Hamilton education?
I think Hamilton helped instill a sense of understanding and empathy, making me more aware of the challenges we all face, and a willingness to take those challenges on.

Where did you attend college, and what was your major?
I attended Assumption College in Worcester, MA, graduating in 2013 with a B.A in History and Philosophy. I obtained my M.A in History, double concentration in American, and Modern European History from Providence College in 2016.

What do you do professionally?
I work in claims for Travelers Insurance, specifically handling auto subrogation. Additionally, I serve on the City Council in Cranston, RI, representing the 3rd Ward.

What is it about your career that you find fulfilling/ interesting?
Whether it’s working in claims and helping reunite people with a deductible and lost expenses, or advocating for a more just and equitable community, every day I have the opportunity to help others.

Are you part of any other clubs/organizations or boards that you would like mentioned here?
In addition to serving on the Cranston City Council, I am also a member of the Cranston Health Equity Zone (HEZ). The Cranston HEZ is a resident-driven initiative aimed at addressing the root causes of health disparities in the Arlington, Stadium, and Laurel Hill neighborhoods.


Whitman Littlefield
Attended Hamilton until 2001

What grade did you enter Hamilton School?
I entered Hamilton in the Second Grade. I’d just finished Second Grade at a Montessori school, and Jon Green and (retired teacher) Linda Atamian felt it was best that I repeat the grade. Thank goodness. It was 100% the right decision. 

What was it that brought you to Hamilton?
Dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD. More significantly, my parents, teachers, and tutors at the Montessori school realized I needed more specialized support than they could provide. I couldn’t read or keep up in class. I think I was a bright, intelligent student, but reading was like gazing at Chinese.

Talk to us about your learning difference.
What is there to say? Dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD. I’ve got a mixed bag, and I never know which is driving a particular issue. My spelling still sucks, but I manage to be a newspaper editor. I’m scatterbrained but don’t take meds. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it anymore; it’s just part of me. So are my coping mechanisms. 

What changed for you at Hamilton?
Everything. I’d be a bad carpenter without Hamilton. There’s no way I would be able to read. More importantly, they taught me how to learn. Those two fundamental skills have helped me explore, challenge, and shape my own life.

If there was one thing that you could share with a current Hamilton student, what would it be?
Have fun. Ask questions. The staff, teachers, students, everyone- are incredibly supportive, and it’s a special community that will go above and beyond to help and support. Take advantage of that every day. Make teachers stay late if you have more questions. Keep pushing, keep trying, but say thank you

What are some of the long term values of a Hamilton education?
Reading and writing…and typing? A desire and joy in learning. Self-Confidence and self-awareness about the best ways I need to be supported. How to pursue and fulfill those needs so that I’m positioned to be successful.

Where did you attend college, and what was your major?
My undergrad education was at Hobart and William Smith. I double-majored in English and American Studies with a concentration in Early Modern Literature (Shakespeare).  My Master’s Degree is from The Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. It’s a degree in Digital Media and Management.

What do you do professionally?
I’m the Digital Editor at The Providence Journal.

What is it about your career that you find fulfilling/ interesting?
Stories. I’ve always loved stories even when I was little. Now I get to help tell dozens of stories every day. It’s chaotic, disorganized, and random things are zinging around the newsroom all the time. Stories need to go online RIGHT NOW; others take weeks or months. No two stories are the same.

It’s a lot like ADD. But at the end of the day, we are helping Rhode Islanders stay informed, make smart decisions, and sharing the humanity of our state. That’s an important role.


Caity Sprague
Wheeler Alumna ’05

What grade did you enter Hamilton School?
Halfway through First Grade.

What was it that brought you to Hamilton?
I was struggling at Wheeler in most of my classes, which initiated the conversation between my teachers and parents about getting a psych-ed evaluation. From there, Hamilton was the obvious choice.

What changed for you at Hamilton?
I am dyslexic and ADD. I often liken my education at Hamilton to learning English as a second language. In high school, college, and beyond, I realized the foundational understanding of English grammar and spelling mechanics I gained at Hamilton far surpassed the support many of my peers received in their elementary and middle schools. 

If there was one thing that you could share with a current Hamilton student, what would it be?
Everything negative about Hamilton (perhaps feelings of being put in a box, separated from peers, etc.) is temporary. Everything positive about Hamilton (your connections with teachers, the tricks you learn, the academic growth) is permanent and will impact you throughout your educational and professional career.

What are some of the long term values of a Hamilton education?
Hamilton taught me the value of hard work, to always keep my eyes on the prize and not get discouraged by obstacles. The inclusive, welcoming environment was crucial in destigmatizing my learning disability. Maybe the most critical thing I learned at Hamilton was that not only is it okay to be dyslexic, but it’s something to take pride in.

Where did you attend college, and what was your major?
Connecticut College, Studio Art (Graphic Design and Drawing)

What do you do professionally?
Despite my learning disability and my college degree, I am a writer. As the Associate Director of Stewardship Communications in the Development Office at Mass General Hospital, I manage the custom acknowledgment program.

What is it about your career that you find fulfilling/ interesting?
I’ve always felt giving back was very important, and that sentiment was fostered throughout my Hamilton and Wheeler education. Having been in educational fundraising since college, the shift to healthcare has been fascinating. I feel privileged to be in a role where I learn and write about new and groundbreaking initiatives in medical research and clinical care every day.