“We should be grateful 365 days per year. However, this time of year we should also reflect on why we are grateful.” Those were the words spoken by Mrs. H, my fourth grade teacher, in front of the classroom on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – oh so many years ago. Her words never left me. And like so many people this time of year, I find myself reflecting on all the reasons I am so very grateful.
10 Years of Gemm Learning
Gemm Learning has reached its 10 year anniversary! Spending nearly all of the last decade with Gemm Learning has been one of the great joys of my life. At least once a day, I receive a phone call from a parent or staff member letting me know that a child’s life has changed for the better. Our programs, in conjunction with the support and guidance of our program managers, have the potential to bring happiness, comfort, confidence and success to our students.
An Exercise in Gratitude
As an exercise in thoughtfulness and gratitude, I asked a few of our staff members to share a special moment from their time at Gemm Learning.
Geoff Nixon – Founder and CEO
In our first summer, I called one of our new parents, Wendy, to find out how it was going three weeks in. She said it was going well, but she had some questions. New to this and eager to please, I launched into my explanation about the science and how it takes a while for improvements in language processing from Fast ForWord to translate into reading growth.
She interrupted me. “I think it’s already starting to work!” she said. Being relatively new to the power of Fast ForWord, I was somewhat taken aback. “It is,” I replied, trying not to sound surprised. “What makes you say that?” She told me that her 10 year old was not only picking up books to read, but he was reading out loud to his young brother. “Until now he was embarrassed about his reading and resisted reading out loud at all. Now he feels good enough about his reading to show off his new reading skills to his brother!” It was the first of many wonderful conversations about overcoming fears and building confidence through reading success.
Christine Robinson – Senior Consultant
It is hard to choose one moment or story from my time at Gemm. So, I will limit myself to two!
I had spoken with a very concerned mom regarding a program for her daughter. She was skeptical of our potential to help and worried we wouldn’t have a lasting impact on her daughter. In her words, she was desperate because daughter was emotionally not in a good place. She felt that she needed to try something. We spoke nearly a dozen times before she enrolled. Within four weeks of beginning, she couldn’t believe they were noticing improvements. In my opinion, her daughter’s journey with Gemm is by far my favorite success story in terms of changing someone’s life. She went from feeling like she was a “waste of space” to becoming a confident, happy child who is seeing great success in school.
And On a Personal Note
Before I became a part of the Gemm Learning family, I was the parent of two boys who needed a learning intervention. I found Gemm Learning online, picked up the phone, and our lives changed forever. I’ve had dozens, upon dozens, of happy moments – when I think of where Payton and Cam were before Gemm, and where they are today.
Payton has come such an incredibly long way in so many areas. The pyschiatrist who conducted his last neuropsychological evaluation said she doesn’t even feel that his diagnosis of a learning disability is valid anymore! Gemm truly gave him the chance to reach his potential – he was always bright but so held back by his learning struggle. Cam just received his first report card in his honors LA class – first year he is in honors – and he has a solid A. He did Gemm in 1st grade, and every teacher I’ve talked with about his progress since 2nd grade says they never would have guessed he was dyslexic.
Michelle Reynard – Educational Specialist / Consultant
In my time with Gemm Learning I have seen, first-hand, the difference the program can make and the dedication of its staff, not to sell a program or meet quotas, but to help children reach their potential. Parents have gone from tearful visits in my office and children being suspended from school to stopping by, months and years later, just to share stories about how well their children are doing. I’ve seen students go from feeling as if they were “bad at everything” to boasting with pride over accomplishments and making friends for the first time. I’ve seen others go from running for the door and crying about having to do “one more thing” to running and smiling into our center anxious to share a paper the teacher handed back that day.
My occupational goal in life has always been to do something that makes a difference, and I can say with absolute certainty that Gemm does.
Deli Marden – Director of Education
Every moment is a special Gemm Learning moment for me. I am incredibly grateful that I get to work with children who are just like me. Having grown up with a leaning struggle, I understand what it is like to sit in a classroom and feel lost and behind. I have the gift of paying it forward, so to speak. My life was changed by my mother, who always believed in me, and also by my teacher, Mrs. Rosenfeld, who helped me believe in myself. Today, I am proud to be a teacher working with parents who believe wholeheartedly in the unlimited potential of their children.
Melissa Agosin – Program Manager / Educational Consultant
I’ve experienced many special moments working here. Therefore, I cannot choose one that stands above the others, so I’ll just share one of my recent conversations.
One of our moms received a call from her daughter’s classroom teacher. They’d had a quiz in history that day. Normally, mom would have helped her daughter to study the night before. Not having spent time studying, she expected to hear that things hadn’t gone well. She was pleasantly surprised. The teacher had read the questions aloud to her daughter as part of her IEP, and her daughter scored 100%! As a result, mom recognized that her daughter was now processing and retaining everything she has been learning in class and her memory has dramatically improved. She said she called us the second she got off the phone with her teacher. Her excitement was literally bubbling through the phone! I am incredibly grateful for conversations like this one.
The Next 10 Years
As a parent and an employee, I have witnessed the impact of Gemm Learning on its students and their families. Consequently, I am incredibly grateful to be a part in this organization. And I intend to be here for the next 10 years.
To Mrs. H, my tireless 4th grade teacher, I hope you read this and understand the tremendous effect you had on my life.
To our students, who work so hard every day, you are an inspiration to us all.
I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.
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