Katherine Schantz, EdM, CAS has served as the head of school at The Lab School of Washington since 2009. Ms. Schantz has more than 35 years of experience in the field of learning differences and ADHD. She has taught at all educational levels — from public schools, to specialized independent schools for students who learn differently, to the university level. Her research and experience have focused on students with specific language based learning differences (dyslexia) and ADHD, including defining learning differences, evaluating assessments, and determining effective interventions for both the clinical and classroom settings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Education and CAS in doctoral studies in the field of Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University. Before coming to The Lab School, she was head of Delaware Valley Friends School in Pennsylvania and associate head of The Kildonan School in Amenia, New York. Both schools serve students with dyslexia and language based learning differences.
Ms. Schantz consults with other educators across the country working to develop the most effective practices and environments for students with specific learning differences and ADHD. Her interest and expertise is neuropsychology and diagnostic assessments as well as fostering an arts-centered educational model as access to learning and identifying significant student talents. She has spoken at educational and mental health conferences on topics including neuropsychology, learning strategies, executive functioning, the importance of the arts, and preparing students with learning disabilities for college and a new century of work and careers.
Since coming to Lab — in collaboration with Lab’s Board of Trustees — Ms. Schantz has fulfilled many goals to continue to grow The Lab School as the best of the best in schools for students with learning differences.
- High School: Ms. Schantz spearheaded the conception and construction of a state-of-the-art High School building. Opened in the spring of 2016, the building was designed to enhance the learning experience, giving choices for students and teachers with open spaces, alcoves, and quiet rooms, and mobile furniture and walls so that spaces can become multifunctional and easily transformable.
- Transforming Lives. Transforming Education.: Ms. Schantz spearheaded the most successful capital campaign in the history of the school, which in four years raised $12.3 million, $2.3 million above the original goal.
- Phase II Campus Renovation: Following the construction of the High School building, Ms. Schantz spearheaded the creation of a Ceramics Studio and is now working with the Board, architects, and builders on creating more hubs for dynamic arts-centered learning in the forthcoming Sally L. Smith Center for the Arts, which will include a new, modern 275-seat theater, and significant renovations in the middle school and arts program.
- Why Arts Matter: Across the school curriculum, Ms. Schantz continues to focus on arts-centered learning — based on research — and its effectiveness for building essential habits of the mind for lifelong learning.
- Literacy Initiative: Ms. Schantz launched the Literacy Initiative, which trains teachers in the common language of Orton-Gillingham (a multisensory approach where teachers use sight, hearing, touch and movement to help students connect language with letters and words), adds programmatic options for intensifying literacy training for intractable dyslexia; and aligns literacy methods across the school divisions and the Speech and Language Department.
- Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion: Ms. Schantz has championed the development of a school-wide plan to address identified needs related to creating a culture of greater diversity and inclusion for members of Lab’s community, including naming a full-time diversity coordinator, creating a formal strategic plan, and involving the entire Lab community.
- Global Travel: Understanding the power of travel and experiential learning, Ms. Schantz inaugurated the national international travel program. Since 2009, students have traveled to China, Costa Rica, South Africa, France, Ecuador, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Galapagos Islands, Belize, Germany, and Poland as well as national destinations from Selma, Alabama to Boston and San Francisco. She has supported the Tide Turners study/travel environmental science course that has taken students to research centers in the South Carolina, Florida, Nova Scotia, Belize, and Hawaii to learn the plight of endangered species.
- Thought Leadership: Ms. Schantz continues to develop and increase communications on the philosophy, mission, vision, and institutional achievements to all constituencies in our community and to a broader base of educational policymakers and practitioners, continuing the role of The Lab School as a thought leader in the field of learning differences education.
- Sports: Ms. Schantz has focused on promoting both in-school and outside-of-school athletic options, which in addition to our 26 sports teams includes crew and hockey clubs, and continued attention to building Intermediate athletic programs. She also brought lacrosse to Lab with help from the Paul Rabil Foundation.
- Bermuda Lab Academy: Ms. Schantz was instrumental in working with a Lab parent (from Bermuda) and her team from the island to found a Lab summer camp and two years after the launch of the camp, a Bermuda Lab Academy.