Indie Author & Learning Specialist



Part 3



Re: Jake Pullman

Parents: Evelyn & Terry Pullman

Siblings: 3 brothers, 8 yrs. and twins 5yrs.


Jake is a 10-year-old fifth grader in a Montgomery County Public School. In my initial meeting with him, he presented as a sensitive yet a strong-willed young man with greatest interests in athletics and video games. He had a litany of reasons explaining his poor performance in school, the most significant being the participation in three sports teams with several evening practices per week and weekend games. Jake resents Mom’s checking up on him and strongly believes he can manage his school work on his own.

Jake’s mother, Evelyn, first contacted me concerning his unsatisfactory performance in school. She and Jake’ dad, Terry are worried about his ability to move forward in school and  report the high level of stress Jake’s attitude and performance is having on family dynamics. They would like to see Jake more committed to his studies and achieve above average grades.

I found Jake to be over programmed and pressured to perform with excellence at every task. He responded well to gentle stroking of his ego and was quite open to sharing this feelings. Although initially he resisted the idea of help from an outside source, when I suggested he humor me for our initial meeting and try to keep an open mind, he agreed and played Jenga with me while I slipped in ideas to help improve his organization and study skills. By the end of our second game, he warmed to my ideas and thought he’d be willing to try a few sessions with me.

Talking with Jake’s teachers, I learned he was very social and well liked by students as well as teachers. His academics, however, were struggling.  He was behind in every subject except PE where the teacher raved about his athletic prowess. All the other teachers reported assignments were often late or never submitted. When they were turned in, his work was careless and illegible. I asked about extra support time within the school day, and all of the teachers expressed willingness to help Jake if he would seek them out. We also discussed the possibility of disregarding missing assignments and moving forward with the new ones.  Almost all of teachers agreed, except for math and Spanish. Both of these teachers explained their subjects were cumulative, prior units are the essential building blocks to each that follows.


  1. Build organization and study skills
  2. Reduce family stress


  1. Set aside regular study time and place.
  2. Video game time is to be earned. (Not to exceed 1 hour on weekdays)
  3. Reduce after school sports commitment to only one basketball team.
  4. Jake is to keep his room organized,
  5. Seek help from all teachers and
  6. Drop Spanish in exchange for a study period.
  7. Set aside one night per week for family dinner
  8. Meet with academic coach twice a week for first month until patterns are established. Then move to once a week maintenance until Jake can manage on his own.


I will send a monthly report to you via email updating Jake’s progress. Should you prefer a hard copy, I am happy to send my reports via traditional mail.

Note, this coaching program is a tool designed to help Jake build his organization, study skills, resourcefulness and independence. Therefore our ultimate goal is to see him manage on his own. 

Please review this report thoroughly and sign below if you approve of the plan and are prepared to move forward. If you would like to further discuss any part of this report, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to working with all of you.



Jake Pullman


Evelyn Pullman


Terry Pullman



This plan was sent to the Pullmans via email 3 days after our initial meeting, and I was a bit surprised by their response. Nothing. For six days no one uttered a word by phone or email. On day seven Evelyn finally phoned. I sensed a nervous tic in her voice as I listened.  They were ready to turn Jake’s skill building, room organization and school work over to me, and they would try to have weekly family dinners. There was a long pause filled with her growing uneasiness, small coughs and whispers in the background. I thought I knew what was coming but was surprised when she blurted, “Jake’s not willing to drop Spanish.”

“And?” I asked certain they’d been stressing over more than the Spanish in my report.

“Well,” there was more throat clearing and the whispers grew louder. I was suddenly muted from the conversation on other end of the phone until Terry’s voice came on the line.

“The truth is, Jake refuses to give up either basketball team. You don’t understand, he’s the best player we’ve got…”

Oh, I understood alright and recognized the disappointment dropping a team would mean to Jake and to Terry. Now I paused. Over programmed kids is a pet peeve of mine and cutting back on their extra curricular activities is usually non-negotiable.  But I knew basketball meant as much to Jake as it did to Terry and to their relationship. I also knew the one thing Jake needed most was time. Time to catch up in math and Spanish, time to build his skills, time to organize his room, time to do his homework, time to play basketball, and time to spend with his family.

A quick recapitulation and an adjusted plan was agreed upon. Jake would exchange Spanish for  a study period, thus giving him 4 free periods a week to do homework, catch up in math and meet with teachers for extra help when needed. He would also drop indoor soccer until we all agreed he had time to spare. He would continue with basketball as scheduled as long as he made adequate progress towards reaching the goals. I would send monthly reports with updates from Jake’s teachers as well as my own evaluation of his progress.

Later that same evening a beep from my computer alerted me to the email with the attached report signed by all three of the Pullmans. I slept well that night and I think they did too.