The Browning Learning Center, named after Prep’s beloved Father John E. Browning, SJ, provides a structured, supportive program for Prep students with learning disabilities and related issues. The Center is available to students who have a current Individualized Education Plan (IEP or ISP), 504 plan, psycho-educational report recommending intervention, or documentation from a neurologist indicating ADHD.
A key goal of the Browning Learning Center is to help students recognize their learning issues, gradually begin to manage tasks with more independence, and then advocate for themselves in the classroom and beyond. The program staff works with parents and teachers alike, helping each to recognize and then address learning disabilities at home and in the classroom. The Browning Center represents our commitment to provide a structured program in which students with learning differences can receive the support they need to succeed in Prep’s rigorous academic environment.
The Browning Center has two functions. The first is to serve as a clearinghouse for documenting and distributing information to teachers about students’ needs for accommodations in the classroom. It also serves to request extended time on national tests. It provides information to the Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOE), which conducts the assessments for the three-year re-evaluations for students with IEPs and ISPs. The parents of current students with needs are urged to contact the Center before the first day of school in September to discuss the student's testing recommendation for the year.
The second function of the Browning Center is to provide structured assistance to students who need further support. This can be in the area of organization, attention to study skills, or help with work assigned in other classes. Students must attend the Center a minimum of twice a week. There is a fee of $1,300 per school year, billed by semester, for this part of the Browning program. (For further information, see below in the Fees and Financial Aid Section). Once students are enrolled, attendance is mandatory. Enrollment materials are mailed to parents in August. Occasionally, students are referred by classroom teachers.
Enrollment may also occur through self-referral. It is gratifying to us when young men with learning differences recognize they have needs simillar to those of a friend who is already in the program. Seeing friends obtain assistance helps some young men become more amenable to joining the Browning community. A positive side effect is an increase in the school's understanding and acceptance of people with learning differences. In this way the Browning center enriches the entire Saint Peter's Prep community.
Staffing and Facilities
The staff in the Browning Center consists of a full-time learning specialist, Ms. Elizabeth Benedict, and a part-time administrative assistant. Also, teachers often drop in to the Center to work with students during their lunch periods. The Center is under the supervision of the Guidance Department.
The Browning Center houses desktop computers and printers, and a library of resource books and materials for students and teachers that includes copies of classroom textbooks, study guides, test preparation books and materials for SATs and ACTs, and technological tools for students.
The Browning Center is open from 7:45 am until 3:30 pm or later and during lunch periods, with participants in the program scheduled for two academic periods (50 minutes each) per week during free periods in their schedules. Ms. Benedict is able to maintain a low class size of from one to four students. Students may also visit the Center during Academic Support periods.
How the Browning Center Helps our Students
In the Center, students are given assistance and support for their academic coursework. Using classroom assignments and projects, we further the students’ skills in their individual areas of need, such as organization, note-taking, test-taking strategies, reading for purpose, writing, and using school resources. Homework assignments, essays and research papers provide a framework for putting skills learned into practice. Emphasis is placed on seeking help from teachers and being proactive when faced with difficulties. The Browning Center has made it a goal to enable students to gain independence in managing their own individual learning styles, and successfully negotiate for the assistance needed.
Teachers and guidance counselors work closely with the Center on individual student needs. Members of the Guidance Department participate in Child Study Team meetings scheduled by the Jersey City Board of Education. Teachers are regularly asked for classroom updates on student progress throughout the year and before JCBOE reviews or re-evaluations. The Browning Center also works with a team of two professionals who do cognitive and academic skills testing for us at reasonable rates and with very thorough and helpful analyses.
Fees and Financial Aid for the Browning Center
As stated above, the fee for those requiring structured assistance and further support is $1,300 annually. The fee is paid per semester (two payments of $650). If a family needs financial aid in order to enroll their son in the Browning Center, they inform the Director of Financial Aid, Fred Galano (firstname.lastname@example.org). The family must then apply for financial aid online via Prep's website, http://spprep.org/financialaid It normally takes about two weeks to process an application. If a family has already completed a financial aid application and qualified for financial aid for the current academic year, they do not have to refile a financial aid application. A letter to the Director of Financial Aid requesting financial assistance for the Browning Center for the current academic year will suffice. After reviewing the application, the Director of Financial Aid informs the family and the Browning Center if they qualify for financial aid. Families have to apply annually in order to receive financial aid. Financial information for both parents must be provided in the financial aid application.
Parental and Student Comments:
“The program helps me stay organized and get my work done.”
“It’s very helpful, because she helps me understand when I can’t get a reading.”
“Thanks for everything you did for me these four years. I want you to know I really appreciate it even though
I didn’t always show it.”
“We have always been blessed with support at Saint Peter’s Prep.”
--Mother of a recent graduate.
“All your help contributed to a successful year at Prep.”
--Mother of a freshman
“The Browning Center has been with us every step of the way these four years.”
--Parent of a graduating senior
The John E. Browning, S.J., '46, Learning Center is named for the late Father John Browning, Prep's former principal, student counselor, religious studies teacher, track & cross country moderator, and Higher Achievement Program founder/director. Father Browning had a special love for Prep's students and it is in his memory that the learning center program has been dedicated.