In the mid-1980s, Bill Carpenter and his wife wanted a better education for their son. The family was looking for a local school that celebrated student strengths, addressed academic weaknesses directly, and integrated critical life skills into the curriculum – a place where students with learning disabilities could feel they belonged.

Learning Skills Academy accepted its first six students in the fall of 1985, with the guidance of Carpenter and his family and the educational direction of Carol Cook. Jason Holder and Adventurelore were part of the LSA program from its inception. In 1996, we built our permanent home at 1247 Washington Road, across the driveway from the original rooms.

Since then, LSA has grown in a number of ways. In addition to those with language-based learning disabilities, LSA is now approved to provide instruction for students with other health impairments and speech and language impairments. Our methodology also works well for some students with non-verbal learning disabilities.

Our approach to instruction has also evolved. For example, we went from discrete tutorials in phonology, to embracing a lab approach to teaching all aspects of reading. The Language Lab (now known as Literacy Lab) was born in 2004 and the Math Lab followed in 2009.

In 2008, the school became formally approved by the Massachusetts Department of Education, allowing Massachusetts school districts greater ease in placing students in a New Hampshire school. Current Executive Director Karen Staines even serves as an alternate on the Massachusetts Association of Approved 766 Private Schools, cementing our ongoing commitment to serve students from Massachusetts. LSA completed its most recent re-accreditation with the New Hampshire Department of Education in 2016, earning a full five-year approval status. Maine students are regularly enrolled as well.

LSA has expanded the grade levels we serve to include grades 11 and 12, and received NHDOE approval to grant diplomas. In 2012, LSA added third graders and increased our capacity to accept up to 52 students. That summer we also expanded our facilities, renovating a suite of offices in the building across the parking lot (the home of our original rooms) to establish a dedicated Upper School.

To accommodate our growth, LSA has increased the staff to 37. After developing relationships with Franklin Pierce, Granite State College, and University of New Hampshire, LSA has trained and mentored both educational and speech language interns; some of those newly trained professionals have even joined our staff.

The most important aspect of our growth is our educational program. Some recent developments to LSA’s curriculum include creating a Lower School musical, developing building arts classes, strengthening the afterschool offerings including Girls on the Run and Martial Arts, and providing overnight experiences for 7th-12th graders; Cape Cod, the White Mountains, and New York City are just a few examples.

The extended school year program expanded from individual tutorials in basic skills to an integrated Summer Academy featuring not only academics, but also Adventures in Learning –skill development with a flair.

“LSA changed the course of our daughter’s life. After struggling in middle school, both academically and socially, she now loves school, takes pride in her accomplishments, and her life is filled with joy. We would have moved anywhere for Lauren to go to LSA, and we are so lucky it is right here in seacoast New Hampshire.”

Current Parents

“Before LSA, our son was falling apart in every way imaginable. Addressing his academic needs felt like a pipe dream, and we prayed only for an educational environment where his spirit would not be crushed on a daily basis. After three years at LSA, he has blossomed into a passionate learner, producing a level of work we never thought possible!”

Current Parents

“We have LSA to thank for making our son feel just like everyone else. Now now he can concentrate on school—and friends.”

Current Parents

“Before my daughter started attending LSA in fourth grade, her confidence was low and she didn’t want to go to school because other students would make fun of her. But she has flourished in the LSA environment, and her confidence has been restored. I never have a problem getting her to go to school because she has made great friends, loves her teachers, and loves learning.”

Current Parents

“LSA honestly does ignite the energy it takes to study, learn, and teach in spite of challenges. Absolutely everyone who is a part of LSA stretches to reach students’ goals. Parents express relief when their child is happy to work and learn. Students greet visitors with a smile and a handshake. Teachers are solid with the basics but also creative and thoughtful.”

Mary Anker, Board Chair

“Everyone should know that a gem of a school exists that can fill that wish of finding a school that understands the educational, social, physical, and emotional needs of their students.”

Mary Anker, Board Chair

“LSA has been able to help so many children become young adult and achieve goals they did not think were possible prior to attending LSA.”

Thomas Beamer

“LSA is comprised of dedicated and talented teachers under an exceptional Executive Director. Together this entire community works to meet the needs of our students who flourish academically and socially while enjoying their journey at LSA.”

Carolyn Beaulieu, Treasurer

“LSA is a gem in the seacoast tri-state region. The students who attend LSA will live a better life because of their experiences here – and will enrich the lives of those around them.”

Carolyn Beaulieu, Treasurer

“I have listened to student after student tell me how their teacher helped them learn their way. Each story was unique – just like every student.”

Colleen A. Meader

“LSA is special because of its great teachers, great administration – people that care about the kids and giving them the ability to learn.”

Gary Rohr

“Every student at LSA is unique and given the right tools to succeed they become confident and productive individuals in society.”

Sarah Swenson

“I've known the school from its very beginnings and have watched, with delight, the growth of this institution.”

Paul Whitcomb

“I believe that learners with challenges merit a passionate advocate for their program.”

Rosemary Zurawel, Secretary

“LSA has created a balance of meeting student learning goals while offering each student a community that supports their social and emotional growth in addition to their academic success.”

Rosemary Zurawel, Secretary

“LSA is a school community devoted to the individual's growth in a warm and safe environment.”

Rosemary Zurawel, Secretary

Are you ready to ignite your child's ability to learn?

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