March 2012

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Is BrainWise the missing link to success in academics and the job market? Tina Aaron thinks so. Aaron is the director of a community-based program that teaches work readiness in Jasper, Alabama. The program prepares participants for the job market through life skills, job skills, job ethics and more. While teaching the quarterly Employment Prep course, Aaron made a surprising observation. “About halfway through that class, I started seeing the same thing,” Aaron said. “People got off track at middle school.”

Aaron began to look for ways to incorporate thinking skills in the schools. “I’m dealing with the aftermath, so I thought, ‘Why not teach young people how to make decisions?’ I put a Powerpoint (presentation) together, and got a grant,” she explained. Aaron was doing research on decision making skills when she came across BrainWise on the internet. “BrainWise was doing essentially what I was doing, but better,” Aaron said. “I realized one session wasn’t enough for (participants) to retain it. When I found BrainWise, and it was a long-term program, I liked that. The whole thing was a godsend,” Aaron said.

Aaron worked with the Walker County Board of Education to provide BrainWise training to principals, teachers and school counselors. From there, the Walker County School system contracted with Aaron’s employer, Jasper Family Service Center, to implement a Parent Involvement District Initiative which has been providing BrainWise workshops to students and parents for the past two years.

While she now works more with BrainWise trainers, Aaron has fond memories of her involvement in the classroom. Out of her own money, Aaron purchased “goodies” that she used to reinforce lessons on the Ten Wise Ways. Some of the class favorites include “Smarties” candies and gummy lizards for the lesson on Wizard Brain Over Lizard Brain, glow-in-the-dark stars for Constellation of Support, stress balls for the discussion on Emotions Elevator, pins, t-shirts, pencils, CD cases and mirrors with BrainWise messages on them, and large magnets printed with “Stop and Think” for their lockers. As to whether or not the lessons have been retained by the students, Aaron says she still sees some of the kids she taught, and they still use BrainWise.

Aaron is confident that teaching thinking skills now will provide life skills later that will help people get and retain employment. “People need, but are not getting these life skills,” Aaron said. “BrainWise works. Anybody can use it. Anybody can teach it. Anybody can learn it,” She added.