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PENSACOLA, FL – Barbie Nall teaches a variety of subjects to 6th through 12th grade students in a drug and alcohol residential treatment center. In addition to providing the students with the academic coursework necessary to reach or maintain grade level standards, the program aims to give the students tools to learn positive coping skills necessary for developing healthy relationships, solving problems, and avoiding triggers.

“Having already faced many obstacles, the students need multiple avenues of encouragement to better their lives,” Nall explains. “Some students have never had a stable environment and need to know how they can make life better for themselves. The book, along with the study guides, will help the students realize how to make that difference.”

Nall plans to share The Art of Learning with the counselors and director of the program and possibly have the students read and discuss the book. In this way, the students will not only encounter the concepts in class, but in their counseling sessions and the dormitory as well. In addition to the book discussion, Nall will incorporate Resilience principles such as Value Process Before Results, Investment in Loss, Beginner’s Mind, and Using Adversity into the break periods using kinesthetic activities.

Cypress Creek High School

ORLANDO, FL – Carole Scala, English Department Chair and Writing Coach at Cypress Creek High School, is using The Art of Learning as a means to help her students reach their academic potential.  The focus of her work is on time management, study skills, and motivation.  Carole incorporates the use of Socratic Circles for discussions and challenges the students to come up with their own ideas for visualization and release of tension. Each chapter of The Art of Learning is illustrated through a group assignment –  focusing on self-directed goals, self-regulated collaboration, and the shared creative manifestation of a beautiful Inspiration Board. Carol outlines the assignment in the following way for her students:

Goal – Once a month, a group of you will be responsible for designing and executing an “Inspiration Board” for the hallway.  The group will submit a plan (drawing of the proposed board) for approval by the Monday before you will create your board. Likewise, you will also provide all materials for the board.

Groups – You will self-assign work tasks within your group, elect a group leader who will oversee the project, and collaboratively come up with a powerful and creative board.

Boards – Boards must revolve around a value (determination, motivation, intuition, knowledge, courage, diligence) and include a quote from The Art of Learning. Completion of each board must take place on the first school day of the first week of the month, either in the morning before school or by the afternoon after school. Then, we will all celebrate and share the joy of your achievement!

One recent example of an Inspirational Board:


TAMPA, FL. Elizabeth Arizu, a guidance counselor at Robinson High School shared The Art of Learning with 25 of her fellow counselors, teachers, and administrators. As a result, English teacher Kenneth Hawkins worked with The Art of Learning in his IB Inquiry Skills class. Their intention is to launch a school-wide program. Says Kenneth:  “In this book, which uses a first-person voice, my students have someone to whom they can relate, someone who experiences travails and gains a specific understanding of how to triumph over them. The Art of Learning shows them how to access and really use their intelligence.  Now, two months later, we still talk about Mr. Waitzkin’s book.”

For 14- and 15-year-old students, the book was helpful because it offered them an approach for facing struggles in life. This is particularly important for teenagers who are starting off fresh in high school and really fresh in life.”

Here’s what some of the students had to say to Josh after working with the book…

“I like Chapter 11, Making Smaller Circles. I like this chapter the most because what I learned from it can help me in my work at school. I can divide my homework in to small parts and do them carefully to get the best results. My class had a great conversation over this topic, and we enjoyed talking about it. I think a lot of people had the same thought as me about it.”

“Your success with these methods was encouraging and proved to others that they did in fact work. Also, your thoughts about how the human brain works when you were talking about “searching for the zone” in Chapter 16 is very interesting. I totally agree with you that we should try and find this zone. It could come in handy one day when it is needed to complete work.”

“Your book, The Art of Learning, has made me see life from a different perspective. I found your story extremely fascinating, especially the little things that your parents did to keep you going during chess tournaments when you were young.”

“I had been struggling to get in the flow and was super stressed about my grades and sports.  I felt like I couldn’t manage my time correctly, but your book helped me to slow down and relax.  We had a four day weekend, and I spent the whole time relaxing and making plans to follow for the next week.  At school I kept reminding myself to stop and think instead of allowing everything to become overwhelming again.”

John Morales, Private Tennis Coach

MELBOURNE, FL John Morales, a private tennis coach and competitive tennis player who studied with John McEnroe’s coach, is teaching The Art of Learning principles to his nine junior players in order to improve their mental toughness, the quality of their play, and their ability to handle adversity both on and off the court. The players are reading two chapters a day and jotting down introspective thoughts about how the principles they are mastering apply to their game and their lives. Chapter content and the written assignments are then discussed. Among John’s objectives: educating parents who are entirely results oriented about the value of mastering fundamentals and the growth that can come from insights gained from losses.

National Education Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. The NEA is 3.2 million members strong and is an advocate for education professionals. We have been donating books to their members via an offer on the NEA website since 2008. Approximately 4,000 educators have received books and by casting such a wide net of inspiration we are igniting positive changes in teaching strategies in classrooms throughout the country.

One example of the impact this alliance is wielding is the program launched by Gerry Padgett, a Library Media Specialist at the Wynnebrook Elementary School in West Palm Beach, FL, who learned about The Art of Learning through the NEA and is using books we provided to fuel discussion about teaching and learning among his colleagues.

Florida Association for the Gifted (FLAG)

PEMBROKE PINES, FL. The JW Foundation is working with Lauri Kirsch who is the President of FLAG. She will be sharing The Art of Learning with multiple parties. These include the members of the local gifted advocacy group, new gifted teachers taking courses through her department, experienced gifted teachers at their district training day, and the district’s elementary staff. FLAG will conduct a variety of activities with these educators, including book talks; self-study and reflection; and book club discussions.