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The 10 year boy seemed to be struggling in school. He was a social student and enjoyed being with his friends. He was struggling in school. His parents were struggling with solutions to helping their son improve his academics and behavior in class.   The boy and his family were out to dinner with a friend. He was a psychologist and had some deep insight into the characteristics of the different personality types that people demonstrate. He asked the boy a couple questions: “Are you more outgoing or reserved? Are you more task or people oriented?” The boy's response showed him to be the inspiring type; someone who is excited, creative, and loves to be with people. Everything for an inspired person is exciting, fun, and a good time. The doctor then asked if he were to ask his teacher the same questions, would she respond the same or differently. The boy thought about it, and his response of what his teacher might answer happened to be the opposite of his. The... read more

     Imagine eating ice cream on a warm sunny day. Not just any ice cream, but your favorite pick from the ice cream truck. You've just spent the afternoon, running and playing with the neighborhood kids, sitting in the backyard sharing a sweet treat among friends. Sounds good, right? Many of us have similar memories, and a summer afternoon, relaxing in the sun is a good way to spend the day.      Imagine this time, being at your favorite amusement park with all your closest family and friends. Hopping between roller coaster rides, ferris wheels, and shrieks of excitement racing in the speed of the wind. You laugh, share hi-fives, and turn to see a tall, decadent ice cream parlor with blinking lights filled with not just ice cream but custard, homemade and fresh with every imaginable topping and flavor. You race to the counter, find no one... read more

Thanksgiving comes once a year, but for my family and I, it has been a year in the making. Many of us prepare for our family traditions: the turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and pies. Maybe a trip to a new exciting city, the Nutcracker ballet, or perhaps, to visit loved ones far and near. Thanksgiving reminds us to gather those we love, hold them tight for a moment and remember what is truly lasting in our lives; the people we care for and love. As I prepared on Monday to have Thanksgiving at my home the year before in 2010, my family traditions would be swept away, scattered. I was between tutoring sessions and picking up necessities for our feast when my mother called. "Could you stay until your dad gets home? Something is wrong...he's not speaking clearly and I'm worried." I hurried back to her home where she had been watching my children and upon my arrival I looked for my dad's truck. It wasn't there. Last year, I wrote about the events of this day in my blog,... read more

Have you ever looked out the window after a storm has just past? The moment between the darkness and light in the hidden blue sky? The contrast of billowing rain clouds, swirling between those hopeful piercing rays of light? It's magnificent; grand in splendor, as the brilliance of the sun is truly magnified by its opposite. Isn't life like this? The joy in the trial of life's storms. Since my father's survival from an AVM hemorrhage last fall, my family and I search for the joy in this storm. The storm is slow, then raging, and yet, still hovering over us as my mother experienced a stroke last month. But, I see joy in the storm. I don't always understand what my dad is talking about. It is as if for him, his aphasia has swept away all the nouns from his lips. Yet, one night, after dinner at his home, he began searching through the cupboards for something to eat. He motioned with his hands to his mouth saying, "It's good, and you go, crunch, crunch, and say, oh,... read more

I often describe math to students as a "foreign language." Many of the terms and words are used to describe specific details that bring about the uniqueness of a concept that is being depicted through numbers. "Know the words," is what I say and suggest to students and parents to have a dictionary ready to look up even the simplest of words like, 'and, or, of, difference.' These words give 'clues' to the students and suggest what operation to use to solve problems. My second statement is, "Know the rules." Math is logical, factual, truthful. The numbers can be trusted if the student follows the rules. The rules are in place to bring truth to the world around them through numbers. So, when learning the language of math remember two things: "Know the words" and "Know the rules" and the numbers will bring confidence to the students trying to understand their language of numbers.

Do you remember that day when your life changed forever? What you were doing early in the morning and the unusual outfit you put together quickly, giving you a new look? Do you remember the people you were with and the sound of their voices when they said, hello?; the cheery inflection that makes them so special? Or, how you felt early Monday morning when you hear them talking with your husband about the Sunday night game when the Steelers beat the Raiders at Heinz Field on a warm November day? Do you remember that moment, 8 hours later, when you realize that what you knew before will never be and that somehow, life as you have lived it, will never be the same? Do you remember? How sweet a memory of a time once lived can be. We think it, and more often than not, we can piece together 'time' when every sense of our being has a memory. The smell of a delicate pink rose from the garden, the touch of a mother's hand on your forehead when you've been sick, and the sound of your father's... read more

Everyone knows what the center of the wheel looks like; small centrally located circle, with spokes connecting it to the outer rim, propelling the wheel in motion; direction; progress. Each part needs the other, of course, to work. You can go far on a wheel that works! Putting the obvious aside, I often see my students as the center of the wheel, supported by the spokes of parent(s), family, teacher(s), school, and someone like me (a tutor). And, if that child/student is able to see the value in his/her effort, continuing to stay the course, over time they experience: progress, direction, and motivation into a future of success. It is very rewarding to see that when a student is supported by all the spokes of the wheel and he/she is focused on the destination, that truly every opportunity is possible! So stay the course, keep going, and set the wheel(s) in motion!

Several years back, my babysitter for my children introduced me to a woman who lived down the street from us. She was a sweet and beautiful grandmother who was just welcoming her daughter back home to stay with her for a while. Her daughter had two children, 5 and 11, both girls. The five year old was diagnosed with Austism at the age of three. She didn't speak much and didn't speak at all from the time she was a baby until about three or four. Her mother said to me, "Jennifer, I don't know what you can do, but at this point, we have done all we can to help her learn." When we began our sessions, I wanted to see what she already knew. By the end of Kindergarten, a child can usually at least recite their abc's and connect their sound to each individual letter. They begin sight words and reading simple sentences. This sweet and pleasant little girl only recognized about 5 out of 26 letters and that didn't include the sound associated with it. I suspected her knowledge... read more

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