by Brandie Genske
A middle school boy is challenged with stuttering and unintelligible spelling.
Sixth-grader Evan was a boy “dear to my heart,” says Special Education and district support teacher Brandie Genske. Evan was challenged with a severe stutter and “horrendous” spelling, says Genske, and she just couldn’t imagine how he would ever be able to perform in real life.
During a one-and-a-half-hour block intervention class each day, Genske had Evan and the other students use MindPlay for 40 minutes. As Evan and the others began to make measurable progress with MindPlay, they also started to believe in themselves. “The message from MindPlay is ‘you can do it!’” says Genske. “What we need to remember is that this positivity is a huge shift in attitude. Especially when it comes to middle and high school kids, failure has become so ingrained that they have stopped buying into themselves.”
One day Evan and the other students approached Genske with a proposition that they spend the entire block period each day working on MindPlay. Genske challenged them to put together a presentation for the Pupil Services Director to get permission to do so. The students followed through and were given the green light.
Among Evan’s significant wins from working with Genske and MindPlay, was a 50 percent improvement in spelling in just six weeks and an increase of two grade levels in reading by the end of the year. As well, Genske worked with the boy on mastering how to start and stop with commas – a particular problem with stutterers who, once they stop speaking, have a hard time starting again. As a result of his progress, Evan gained new self-confidence and his teachers reported to Genske that he was doing much better in all his other classes.
After a year of his working with MindPlay, Evan had to move on to another school where he requested the teacher allow him to continue his work with MindPlay. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Now in high school, Evan still struggles, but he has not forgotten Genske and MindPlay, and how they brought him hope, encouragement, and success after years of failure. He is still in touch with Genske, the teacher who believed in him and supported him. “I think the story is essentially about how a boy who was facing multiple challenges was able to finally see how he could grow and improve,” said Genske. “Simply put, MindPlay has changed his life.”