Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We'd like to introduce you to someone. Her name is Charlie!

Here are a few things you might want to know about Charlie…

  • She just finished fourth grade.
  • She is little for her age.
  • She is a very social child.
  • She was adopted from Taiwan at 5 months of age.
  • She has fabulous parents...oops, guess that’s not a fact.  

Now that you know some facts, let’s really get to know Charlie.  If we could go inside of Charlie’s head to find out what she thinks of herself, she might view herself through one of two lenses.

Lens 1:  She might view herself as the child who has always had a hard time saying long words.  She continued to say peahock for peacock well into her 8th year.  She said pliano for piano even while she had been taking lessons for over 3 years.  She might realize that she still opens a picture book and says, “That’s too many words.”  

Lens 2:  But perhaps she might view herself as the child who was always the best at putting puzzles together.  She might notice that when guests come over and her family has a 1,000 piece puzzle on the table, she  is always the person who finds the most pieces.  She might notice that she is one of the best chess players in her chess class.

Recently while Justin was visiting, Charlie decided that she wanted to make a gumball machine.  Not just any gumball machine...she wanted to make it out of Lego’s.  Think about how hard this is.  She wanted to put a coin in and have a gumball pop out.  Just sit with that idea.  How would you build that?  Would you even know where to start?  It was obvious that she had a clear picture of how it would work.  Coin in, gumball out.  But people, legos are rectangular!

Just as in The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, Charlie struggled.  She got frustrated, pulled Lego pieces apart, left it and came back.  But with determination and eagerness she was able to direct the movie that played so clearly in her head.  Coin in…. gumball out.   Her gumball machine truly worked.  She exclaimed, “Mom, I am really proud of my candy machine!”

It is clear that Charlie viewed herself through the second lens here, through the strength lens.



What can we do?

Step back
Recognize strengths
Allow struggle
Understand that getting lost can lead to being found

Oh, we forgot to tell you one other thing.  Charlie is dyslexic.  Perhaps if you had known about that label at the beginning, you might have viewed her through only the first lens.  But then you may never have noticed the strengths that also make Charlie the remarkable human she is.  Doesn’t Charlie deserve better?  Don’t we have a responsibility to give her what she deserves?

So, the question is…

Are you supporting the gumball making industry? Are you helping the Charlies of the world see themselves as capable? Are you helping them shine?


        To see Charlie in action….


  1. Charlie, that's so cool! How did you get the LEGOs to make a working gumball machine? You're going to have to teach ME how to invent! Jennifer Sniadecki

  2. Justin and Susie, thank you for always seeing the possibilities in children and especially all of the remarkable Charlies of the world. As educators, we stand to learn the most from those kids who maneuver their own unique learning pathway. If we walk beside them and pay VERY close attention to that journey - we will shine as we help them shine. And THAT is what has always inspired me most about this wonderful work we do!