Student Success - Michael

Improving Academic and Study Skills

Part-time student builds foundational math skills and new organization strategies

Michael’s public school career started out well. At first his classes were small and he thrived. But all that changed in ninth grade. His small class of 20 swelled to a class of about 40 students, and soon Michael began to struggle, particularly with math and timed tests. During this time, Michael was also diagnosed with a slight learning disability related to ADHD and motor-skill usage, which made being organized and meeting assignment deadlines difficult for him.

In addition, Michael had missed learning some foundational skills in math and needed more individualized attention. His mother, Kelley, sought tutoring help for him, but the tutors insisted on using a remedial program for Michael. Since Michael is a high achiever, she was concerned he would become bored. Then Kelley learned of Brightmont Academy and enrolled Michael. Like Kelley, the teachers at Brightmont concluded that a remedial approach would not be ideal for Michael. "What he really needed was help building his skills within the regular, rigorous curriculum," explained Kelley. "That's the approach Brightmont took to help Michael become successful, and it worked."

Building Academic Foundational Skills in Math

Math was a challenge for Michael because he found the steps for solving math equations complicated and confusing. "I can only remember a few things at a time," Michael said. Now a junior in high school, Michael has made huge strides with Ashley, his math teacher at Brightmont Academy. His mother observed, "Ashley breaks the math processes down into chunks that are easier for Michael to understand, which helps him remember the steps to solving the equation. Michael's grades have improved dramatically since he’s been working with Ashley."

Learning Organizational and Study Skills

Another challenge Michael faced was staying organized. "It was hard to keep my assignments straight," said Michael. He'd complete his homework at Brightmont ahead of schedule, but then forget to turn it in. "I would lose track of the assignments that I had already done. Sometimes, I'd lose them altogether." At Brightmont, Sharyn, his teacher for English, grammar, and social studies, helped Michael track his assignments and meet deadlines. "There's no magic bullet," said Sharyn. "I'd ask about his assignments. Sometimes we'd use checklists, and often, I'd request he bring back the corrected assignment and then I'd reward him when he did."

Unlike classroom instruction in a large public school, the approach at Brightmont is one-to-one. Michael receives individualized help with whatever he needs to enhance his learning. “Michael is excelling,” said Kelley. "And Sharyn reminds him to take advantage of his Individualized Education Program (IEP) accommodations, such as being able to have more time to take tests."

Staying on Track to Graduate

Kelley appreciates the biweekly reports she receives from his teachers that show Michael’s progress. She feels that Brightmont Academy is meeting Michael's learning needs. “It's been a journey, and Brightmont has really helped Michael succeed.” Michael is happier too, as he notes, "I can work one-to-one with a teacher at my own pace, which is usually pretty fast."

For the last two years, Michael has attended both Eastlake High School and Brightmont Academy, earning course credits from both schools. Next year he will graduate with a diploma issued by his public high school, Eastlake High School.