10 Questions News

10 Questions with Laura Warner

Laura Warner is the Director of the Academic Skills Center (ASC) and Student Accessibility Services. Serving her fifth year at Andover, Warner helps students develop learning skills, organizes the peer tutor program, and facilitates student accessibility accommodations among other responsibilities. Outside of her office in Pearson Hall, Warner enjoys visiting the Addison Gallery of American Arts. 

  1. Why did you chose to work at the ASC?

I started working at Andover [five years ago]…and I have always worked at the ASC. I was intrigued by the idea of being able to work with students one-on-one and also with teachers and families. I do something different with every student, and that makes it very interesting. We are also two offices located together––the Academic Skills Center and Students Accessibility Services––so we’re all the same people overlapping in two different roles. 

  1. What do you aim to achieve as the Director of the ASC?

Our main mission is to support students in their overall academic life at Andover. That’s been especially hard over the past few years during the pandemic. Everything we saw students struggling with before was heightened. We tried to help new students adjust to Andover. For students who have been to Andover, to think about how they can develop better and more effective study skills. Our goal is not for students to work and fill every minute of their day to plan everything out, but it is to let people think about when they’re going to spend time with their friends, have some downtime, get some sleep, and think about the overall flow of their Andover week. 

  1. Have you struggled with building academic skills yourself? How did you tackle it? 

When I graduated high school, I had learned only how to write, essentially, book reports and never did any critical analysis writing; I never got any feedback on my writing. I was a good student, but I had never had that skill before. When I got to college, to Boston University, my first paper assignment was five to seven pages about Hamlet; pick a theme, just like a normal paper. I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t even know what my teacher was talking about. So they sent me to the writing center where I stayed for much of my Fall Term, and I became a good writer. So my main theme in life is that all of us are always in need of adaptation and should think about what new skills we might want to build.

  1. What is your favorite note-taking method and why?

Right now, I’m partial to note taking on the iPad, where you can use different colors and use your stylus. We’re hopeful in doing a workshop perhaps this year to show people different note taking styles, but I’m not a linear note taker. I really need visuals and pictures. So I like the iPad because I can erase, I can make little doodles, I can make arrows, and I can change to colors [that my brain likes.] 

  1. What does the Student Accessibility Services do on campus?

We work with any students who identify as having any type of disability, which includes chronic illness. We have a wider range on campus than most of the independent schools; we have students with hearing loss, visual impairments, mobility impairments, ADHD, dyslexia, depression, OCD, anxiety, and students who identify as neurodiverse, but not necessarily disabled. We provide accommodations for equal access and write a plan that summarizes the student’s strengths and challenges and shows that with your team. 

  1. Can sugar rush be used as an effective medium while studying?

I don’t know about candy, possibly, but did you know that there is some research [indicating] that chewing gum helps improve attention as long as you don’t stick it onto the desk and be gross about it. At the ASC, I feel like food is just part of the culture here. I’m an advisor and I almost always bring snacks for my advisory group because that’s what brings us together. We do tend to try to supply things like Smarties during finals week and smart food, just trying to be clever.

  1. What’s your advice for student struggling with procrastination?

It’s just a habit that becomes more entrenched as we practice it. You’re not actually a procrastinator, but you’ve built up the habit of procrastination. Like any habit, we can work on trying to interrupt it. And in terms of putting off things, we generally do it because we’re prioritizing feeling better in the moment and not doing something that makes us feel not so great. So my main advice is to tackle it head on, and to get some partners, whether it’s a friend or somebody from the ASC or an advisor to help address the reasons for the procrastination, as well as finding yourself some habits that will work better.

  1. What are your favorite moments at the ASC?

One of my favorite things to do is to work with Seniors and help them think about what types of accommodation they might use in college and have them take ownership of that. Another favorite moment was the start of last year when we came back and we had our full team together in person. We welcomed Mr. Coy, so now there are four of us: Mr. Coy, Mrs. Ferris, Ms. Crowley, and I. All-School Meeting last Friday was also one of my favorites where we got to host Haben Girma, and that was the result of everybody’s hard work to get her back on campus.

  1. Do you have a book recommendation for students?

Haben’s book is a great story, which we’re going to get more copies of. I would also say two others, one is called “True Biz” and it’s a story written by a deaf author who talks about going to a deaf residential school, and also “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TK Klune, which is now one of my new favorite books that I read over the summer.

  1. What are your favorite places on campus?

I love the cappuccino line [in Paresky Commons], and I think it’s such a huge perk of being at Andover. I also try to get to the Addison [Gallery of American Art (Addison)] every few weeks, especially on a Friday afternoon to walk through the library. The Addison is a great spot to sit in and meet someone or get some work done.