EVERYBODY LIKES STEVE
Everybody at Camp Genius liked Steve. Handsome. Charismatic. Good guy. Likable. Great work ethic. Athletic. The girls all had crushes on him. The boys all wanted to be like him. Shoot, I liked Steve, too. Steve was tested by Dr. Cates, the same doctor who trained me to get great test results.
Prior to meeting Dr. Cates, I had my master’s degree and had hundreds of hours of training in the latest and greatest strategies and curriculum but I didn’t really know how to individualize curriculum with any kind of accuracy. It was more of a hit and miss approach. I’d teach until I got some kind of breakthrough with even the toughest kids. The average burnout rate for my field was a year and a half. I not only beat the odds but I received local television and state recognition. So, I could hold my own in the classroom, but what I accomplished then was nothing compared to what I learned from Dr. Cates.
I met him when I took a 4th grade student to be tested and have a program designed. She was non-verbal until age five and didn’t learn to read fluently until the end of third grade. After I started teaching her using Dr. Cate’s method, she read series of novels by her favorite authors, graduated from high school a semester early, worked her way through college and landed a really impressive job with a major pharmaceutical company.
Everything that worked for her I started using with kids who were wired like she was. Pretty soon I began to see patterns in the way children processed new information. I was able to design curriculum around their learning styles. I was getting incredible results—my students averaged two year’s gain in standardized testing in nine months of attendance. Dr. Cates told me, “Modeling after me is the best form of flattery as long as you give me credit.” So here I am giving Dr. Cates the credit he is due.
So now, back to Steve, he was in high school and finished with Dr. Cate’s programming when I met his mother. Steve wanted to get into medical school and was struggling in a certain section of the test. Steve had already tried the only curriculum I knew that addressed his issue, with disappointing results. “Steve, did you complete the whole book?” I asked. Sure enough he had only gotten three quarters of the way through. “Steve, I have an idea. I’ll hire you to work at Camp Genius teaching the very same curriculum to a student with challenging social skills.” Since Steve was so popular I hoped that he would help this student be accepted more readily, and that Steve would learn what he needed by teaching.
Steve far exceeded my expectations; he took this freshman under his wing, taught him, visited him in the hospital and turned into the best camp counselor. If you asked the campers what they loved about camp, they would enthusiastically reply, “Steve and the massive water wars on the Fourth of July!” My high school and college counselors bought out every water toy and water balloon in town.
Most of the kids don’t remember that they gained two, three, and four years in standardized testing during a six week camp. They remember Steve, the friends that they made and the water games that turned the football field into a slurpy mud hole. They walked away from camp with academic confidence they never had before. Only two percent of the students ever needed my services again, they were at or above grade level and I’d worked myself out of a job. Sure, I would run into parents at the grocery store asking for advice, “What should I do? I paid you to teach my son to read and now he’s up past his bedtime, hiding his novel and flashlight under his covers.” (That student went from being a slow reader to earning a full college scholarship)
What about Steve? I ran into him a few years back at the mall. He introduced me to his beautiful and sweet fiancé. He was finishing up his dental residency. I guess he got what he needed on his test scores. I got more than I could have hoped for that summer–a young man who made a lasting impression on every child he met!
I did not change the names or the stories. If this story resembles you or triggers any camp memories, contact me at www.atapedu.com
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Karen Marie M.Ed.SPEC, Educational Therapist, director of Camp Genius, and owner of All Things Are Possible Education; improving class rank and standardized test scores in individual and small group sessions.