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Jenna Abrahams (High school)

Jenna came to us the summer before her junior year. She was a student at a local suburban public school. She was an athlete and had many friends. Her parents were concerned that Jenna was not getting the academic results that they all felt she deserved. Jenna was a hard worker and often stayed up late doing her homework. Unfortunately, she struggled when it came to taking tests. Going into her final exams at the end of her sophomore year, Jenna had a solid B-average, but her grades fell drastically as a result of her scores. Despite having studied weeks in advance, she received an F on her chemistry exam. She felt demoralized and was starting to dislike going to school.

That summer, I arranged for Jenna to see a psycho-educational tester who gave her a series of tests to identify what, if any, learning differences she had. The goal was to find out whether she might benefit from special accommodations in and outside the classroom.

The results were encouraging. Jenna had some functioning and processing issues which prevented her from being as efficient as she could be when she studied. Despite her good intentions, Jenna was often overwhelmed by the amount of information she was expected to absorb during a long lesson plan. In addition, she struggled with organization, often putting papers in the wrong folders or showing up in class with the wrong text book.

After conferring with Jenna and her parents, we suggested two possible solutions. The first was to change schools. We recommended an independent school with smaller classes where Jenna could ask more questions and teachers were more available to help when she did not understand a lesson. The second was to see a study-skills tutor two or three times a week. The tutor would help her go over her notes and teach her ways to organize the information so that it was manageable. The tutor would also make sure that her papers were in order so that Jenna would have the right material in class and at home when studying for an exam. We were prepared to help her find the appropriate school and/or tutor.

Presented with the two options, Jenna and her family decided not to change schools. In spite of her difficulties, Jenna had many friends whom she was not ready to leave. In addition, she was involved in other activities outside of the classroom that would be hard to replace if she were to transfer. For instance, she was a member of a field hockey team with state championship aspirations. In addition, Jenna had been planning on running for a student government position. This would be very difficult to do as a new student at another school.

Jenna went to work with the study skills tutor we recommended for her. Also, because of the results of her psycho-educational testing, Jenna was eligible to receive some accommodations at school such as extra time on tests and exams. During the fall of her junior year, Jenna made honor roll. Most importantly, however, she began to like school again. She was finally being rewarded for her hard work.