MASON'S STORY 

Helping Students Break Through

This success story comes courtesy of Anne Braun, a 5th grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School — a school that utilizes our BIST program — in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Named Lee's Summit's 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year, this is Anne's account of how using BIST helped her to break through with a student who was struggling.

Mason is an amazing young man. Just this morning, I taught students different types of text structures, which are common ways information is organized. He continued to discuss examples of each structure with me after class. I could tell he was proud to share his knowledge with me, his teacher. This child is a perfect example that, with the right support and tools, everyone is capable of growth and change. 

Last year, Mason only came to me for math one hour each day. I remember the days I hoped to get through a lesson without him shutting down in frustration. I also remember wishing he would complete his work to show what he knows. This kiddo is as smart as a whip. 

When our administrator, Mrs. James, told me I would be moving to a fifth-grade position, I immediately thought of students in that grade who I could help. Mason was the first student I thought of, so I requested he be placed in my homeroom class. We had built a relationship throughout fourth grade, so I looked forward to spending more time with him working on trust and peer relationships. I remember the day Mason shared with me how sad he was all the time. His self confidence was so low — he wanted friends but didn't have the social skills to make them. 

One way we built his confidence was by establishing a friendship with Justin, our school’s custodian. Healthy adult relationships with youth who have experienced trauma is critical to their healing. Justin has been a true blessing to Mason and me. He has dedicated time to teaching Mason character traits and is a wonderful role model. Mason trusts him, and listens to every word he says.

Mason was held accountable for his work this year. Mrs. James partnered with me to create a "catch up corner” with Mason where he would come in 30 minutes before school to complete any work unfinished. This worked well. Mason came to complete assignments, and I was able to chat with him about things going on in his life. 

With all of these parameters, healthy relationships and open dialogue in place, Mason’s progress has been a true success. He finally believes in himself, has friends and is working most days without frustration. He does have his days of regression, but all he needs is a simple reminder and "poof," that frustration is a temporary emotion that goes away! His smile warms my heart. He knows he is loved, supported and trusted, no matter what.

I’m grateful for the partnership and collaboration of my coworkers at Woodland Elementary. It truly takes a village!

Learn More About Our BIST program

“Mason is an amazing young man ... This child is a perfect example that, with the right support and tools, everyone is capable of growth and change.”

—Anne Braun, teacher