Classrooms, soi-ipp

Alternate Schools – Alternate Programs

There is a very strong case to support the existence of alternate programs. Most people are aware of alternate programs that are geared to students who are at risk socially or who struggle academically. Many students can be guided to become successful, productive members of the community with the right kind of intervention.

What you may be less likely to know about is that there is a profile for the “Gifted with Learning Problems” student. These are the ones we refer to as having mountains and valleys.

These students’ potential may be completely derailed as their needs go unmet. They may be brilliant in math with visual or auditory issues that impede reading success. Or they may excel in reading and composition but struggle with algebra.

Teachers are often aghast when their most brilliant students choose to pass on higher education. I’m always amazed at how many truly intelligent people are unaware of their gifts. Or they know they have potential but cannot face the education system with their problems and, for them, so many doors close. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dr. Robert Meeker has pointed out that most learning problems are not profound. They are for the most part undiagnosed and untreated. In our school system, the focus is usually on teaching the child with problems to “cope.”

Most learning problems can be helped – poor auditory processing included – if you understand what’s needed and have the tools to deal with it. Likewise, most problems with math can also be corrected.

Continue reading “Alternate Schools – Alternate Programs”

SOI News

Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years


The Golden Age of U.S. Public Education

The “Golden Age” of public education culminated in the 1950s. It had steadily improved from one-room schools to become comprehensive, twelve-year systems. It was viewed as the primary means of upward social mobility.

  • U.S. schools consistently ranked among the top tier in International Assessments.
  • Schools were comfortably financed locally through property taxes.
  • School support was widespread, bolstered by local control.
  • The institutions of higher learning were generally satisfied with the high school graduates they were receiving.
  • The workforce had little difficulty absorbing those students who stopped their education at the secondary level.

In short, the system was fulfilling its mission of providing free education to all. As a social service enterprise, it deserved a grade of “A”.

The U.S. Public Education Today

In the past 60 years, public education has deteriorated on almost all counts.

  • U.S. schools are now in the middle group on International Assessments.
  • Schools are chronically underfunded to the degree that their programs are compromised.
  • School constituency support has waned, in large measure, because local control has been displaced by state and federal directives.
  • The institutions of higher learning are having to “educate” incoming students before they successfully enter a college curriculum.
  • The workforce now considers a large segment of high school graduates as “unemployable.”

The system has clearly slipped in meeting its mission. As a social service enterprise, it deserves a “C-” performance.

The Chronicle of Deterioration

This steady decline has has been documented in many ways. The first Continue reading “Public Education in the United States: From an A to a C- in 60 Years”


Earthly Good

“This is so frustrating!”

“It’s too hard!”

“I can’t do it anymore!” 

“Why are you making us learn this?”

One would think those statements are coming from students in the classroom, but they are actually coming from the teachers.

Have you heard the saying, “They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? How sad that this nation has become so fixated on “racing to the top” of the education mountain that we are blinded to the fact that we have caused anxiety, heartache, and disillusionment in our teachers.

At what point do we make the change back to the basics in education? How long before school district superintendents say “enough” and operate their district based upon the children’s needs?

Yes, we understand that funds are always the issue. Money is tight, classrooms are large, new curriculum is mandatory, and the only way to meet the budget is to cooperate with the powers that be. But with all these barriers, the policy makers say our children’s ability to score high on the standardized tests is the benchmark of how well a teacher performs his or her duties. Really!?

Personally, I know of teachers who identify learning issues in students Continue reading “Earthly Good”


My SOI Journey So Far!

In August 2013, I was hired as an assistant activity leader for the Kid Zone Enrichment Program. Six months later, I was promoted to activity leader and put in charge of the kindergarten and first grade club room. My supervisor, Dylan Fitzpatrick, told me I was perfect for SOI and that I would love it. With learning the exercises, asking questions, and watching Dylan work with my kiddos, I finally got the hang of it! Dylan continued to support me, answer my questions, guide me every step of the way, and teach me as I thirsted for more.

At first I was extremely frustrated because I wanted the results to be instantaneous. This is a process that takes time because you can’t skip steps. With the correct training, plenty of patience, guidance, support, and plenty of question asking, I started to understand why I was told I was perfect for this program. It was amazing to watch the kids who used to complain every day change and gain so much self-control, strength, and confidence! The way they controlled themselves, interacted with each other, and interacted with me was becoming more consistent and evident to others. Over time and with hard work, these kids were finally able to stand in a line or queue without wiggling around or touching the person in front of them. Playing with their friends, interacting with staff, or even waiting in a queue or line was becoming more consistent, and I wasn’t the only one seeing the change.

The next school year brought more SOI training, new and returning kids, a new manager, a new supervisor, and greater challenge. I was far more confident with SOI; my club room was doing SOI four times per week every week. For 15-20 minutes at the beginning of every day, it became routine. After two months, the kids were able to do the arm exercises and form a line and queue without me being the leader. We set goals and created competitions. The kids would go Continue reading “My SOI Journey So Far!”

The Basics

Don’t Miss It!

Early in the 1990s, I knew in no unmistakable terms that I was to serve “the least of these.” Throughout my career as an educator, I endeavored to do that. But late in 2014, I began to ponder the question again with greater intensity: “Who ARE the least of these that I am compelled to serve?”

Since I had spent a good deal of my time in socioeconomically disadvantaged schools, I had always assumed it was “the poor.” But recently, as I began working with a broader range of students, I realized that “the least of these” fit into an entirely different paradigm. The least of these were not just those who had no material advantages. Difficulty in learning, caused by any number of difficulties, became the great equalizer in this regard.

Was it lack of resources? Yes, for sure, but not material resources. The answer lay in cognitive/academic, social/emotional, and physio-neurological resources. Dr. Mary Meeker outlined it in 1975 to the U.S. Office of Education in the Meeker Paradigm. I had known about the Meeker Paradigm since my earliest exposure to SOI. But as of late, it began taking on new meaning as I pondered the reason for the impact of SOI and why it had so completely changed my approach to learning and teaching and set me on a course that would inform the rest of my life’s work.

As I considered the question, I was admonished by a friend, a fellow educator, and grandparent of one of my students, “You don’t Continue reading “Don’t Miss It!”

Unique Issues

Case Study: Atypical Gifted/Learning Different


As a psychologist and the director of the SOI Diagnosis and Testing Center of Manhattan Beach, I assessed Ryan, 11, using a variety of ecologically valid tools to measure neuro-processing, including the following: developmental history, parent and teacher-report checklists, clinical interview, visual motor screening, the Structure of Intellect (SOI) Test of Learning Abilities, the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2), and the House-Tree-Person Personality Screening.

Ryan presented with a history of poor reading comprehension, hyperactivity, sensory issues (difficulty turning pages while reading), an awkward pencil grip, “quirkiness,” poor frustration tolerance, and under-performance problems. He has great difficulty finishing his work on time, or starting a reading or writing assignment. Ryan wears glasses, which correct his visual acuity to 20/20. He is double-jointed, twirls his shirt, and makes verbal clicking sounds. When asked to read, Ryan states, “It’s just too hard; I can’t read.” He often gives up and cries. A review of his symptoms would elicit diagnostic questions including dyslexia, ADHD, spectrum disorder, learning disabilities and/or visual processing disorder.

Ryan presented with some difficulty following the test instructions, especially on reading speed and memory tests. His handwriting and fine motor (NFU) coordination appeared impaired. He did not exhibit symptoms of an attention disorder. His checklists were negative for ADHD. Ryan’s SRS-2 was negative for a Spectrum disorder. Ryan did present issues relating to a visual processing disorder – Reading Disorder (DSM-5: 315.0) – which slows down his response time and makes his academic efforts frustrating and inconsistent.

My overall diagnosis for Ryan can be summed up as follows: Ryan has a classic “learning different” brain. Continue reading “Case Study: Atypical Gifted/Learning Different”