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GPS Student is Finalist for National Student of the Year!

GPS Student is Finalist for National Student of the Year!

Read Kaedra’s Nomination Letter written by her brain trainer Katelyn Jackson

In many ways Kaedra did not struggle with many of the issues LearningRx helps to eliminate: she had no behavioral or attitudinal problems, no tension in her family as a result of her learning difficulties, and she self-motivated from the first minute of our first session.

She was 12 at the time she began training at LearningRx, and enrolled in our ComprehendRx program.

She had definite struggles with memory. During the first week, she forgot multiple items in her parents’ car, which they would bring in to her, and she would take with a sweet and sheepish “Oh yeah!” She was also a three-sport athlete at the state level. One of her games was tennis, and although she was very good, her scores often didn’t reflect her talent because the referees would make the players call out the score to them, and Kaedra would often forget the tally, giving the advantage to her opponent.

She had just transitioned from 5th grade public school to an elite private preparatory academy, and her parents were worried she might fall behind the B/C-average she had maintained in elementary school.

Kaedra blew through the lower levels of the drills in the first week. When we progressed to more difficult levels, she refocused, bore down hard, and tunneled through the difficulty.

It was amazing to see. I have never had to stuff training hours full of so many drills. One-by-one the levels fell like dominos and as they grew more difficult, she became more focused, zeroing in to a tunnel-vision level of focus. Almost too focused (perish the thought).

I began to realize that the reason Kaedra’s processing speed was low, the reason she had such difficulty gleaning the meaning from Comprehend-based training questions, was because she could not allow herself to fail.

I told her, “Listen to the beat, breathe in, breathe out,” and she would do it and then her eyes would go back to the page and her hands would clench into fists while her elbows bored into the side of the table. Soon, all I would be able to see of her was the crown of her head. I would tell her to take a breath again, and she would. I could see the effort in her face, how much she wanted to just be able to let it go and move on, but in the beginning she couldn’t.

So we would switch drills and I’d ask her to tell me 3 things she did well in the previous exercise. “Nothing,” she said at first. And I’d tell her three things I thought she did very well—that she didn’t give up, that she tried her best, that she wasn’t going to let the previous experience affect the rest of our session. Over the weeks, she started supplying the answers. “I didn’t let you get me off beat, I didn’t look up even though you were singing that weird song, I didn’t worry about getting it all perfect.”

Over the months, Kaedra began to change. She didn’t worry about perfection so much that it blocked out everything else, and she took the time to really understand my words and instructions, instead of just nodding because she was afraid to admit she didn’t know something. She didn’t clench her fists so tightly that the skin turned white (she did still clench them, but lightly—that girl has drive!).

Then the improvements started pouring in: she’d remembered all her match scores in her tennis tournament, she was understanding her (totally boring) math teacher’s instructions, she wasn’t forgetting things in the car, she was bringing items to her parents that they had forgotten.

About halfway through her program the fateful day came: report cards were out. Kaedra had gotten all A’s and B’s. She and her parents were ecstatic, especially her mom Kim, who was so excited to see her getting better grades at her new, much harder school.

The last half of her training flew by, a kaleidoscope of ever-more difficult tasks and increasingly calmer responses by Kaedra to these formally dreaded stressors. Her frustration level became harder and harder to reach, and when we got there, she took a breath and didn’t let herself get locked into her fear of failure.

At the end of her program, Kaedra and her parents, Jon and Kim, were eager to see the massive improvements in her test scores, and they weren’t disappointed.

But Kaedra’s accomplishments go so much farther than her new IQ measure.

Kaedra’s cognitive improvements at LearningRx had a measurable impact on her life.

Prior to training, family events, homework and sports practices had her booked from Sunday morning to Saturday morning, every week. But then she learned how to breathe, relax, and take the time to understand a project before leaping into it, and now she has (at least a little) free time in the week to just be the friendly, funny, outgoing kid that I had the privilege of getting to know during the months of her program.

Even more than the immediate effects of free time and decreased stress, in the long-term the program has given Kaedra control over her life. She has the confidence now to know that she is capable, that she doesn’t have to know everything at the beginning in order to grow to understand it, and that the ability to give yourself a break paired with unceasing effort is an unbeatable strategy for advancement.

These lessons will stay with her far longer than the names of the Presidents, and the confidence they engender will give her the motivation to strive for her very best, without any doubt limiting the scope of her vision.

I truly believe the LearningRx sentiment that effort is what makes all improvement possible. No one embodies the spirit of that statement more than Kaedra. She is hard working, deserving, and the best testament to the powers of the ComprehendRx program that a trainer could hope for.

That’s why I’d like to nominate Kaedra Thorstenson for LearningRx Student of the Year.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the nominee herself:

“I used to be jealous of the smart kids, but now I feel like I am the smart kid.”