A Partnership for Student Success
Dear Teachers and Administrators,
As a fellow educator, it is an honor to partner with you to help students achieve their full potential. The information and skills that students receive in the classroom is paramount to their success, and the Wise Student approach is designed to complement that important work.
My evolution into an Academic Coach began with substitute teaching. For three and a half years, I taught thousands of students in five diverse school districts. I experienced first hand the curriculum of every subject at every grade level, and the myriad of learning strategies that teachers were employing. Daily substitute assignments played to my strengths of being quick on my feet to teach the ever-changing material properly. At the same time, I had to present confidence and personality to build rapport swiftly so that students could trust me and learn from me. Long term subbing assignments brought the exhilaration of having my own classroom, as well as the heartache that students and I experienced when it was time to say good-bye.
Before my first child was born, I transitioned out of substitute teaching and into my own private tutoring practice where I was able to see student life from an afternoon, evening, and weekend perspective. I still had to adapt to every student’s distinct needs, but now I was also up close and personal with students’ hectic after-school lives and the juggling required to balance homework and extracurricular commitments. I saw the scope of homework assignments ranging from simple worksheets to complex thesis papers, and I became familiar with many online grading portals and their functionalities. I built lasting relationships with students attending both public and private schools by working on content mastery while also having a more complete picture of their lives. From helping them schedule time to study for their driver’s licenses or map out college application deadlines, to making a plan about how to get homework done so that they could play video games or go to bed earlier, I witnessed first hand the struggles they faced to accomplish it all.
As I worked closely with students, I noticed that difficulties with their school work could mostly be traced back to organizational difficulties stemming from lack of executive functioning techniques. Once they left the structure of school in the afternoons, students were unsure of know how to organize themselves in the evenings. As I shared my strategies, I realized that certain ones were universally helpful with supporting what students learned in the classroom that day and maximizing productivity at night. The more I repeated myself, the more I knew that I had to compile the strategies so that all students could benefit. I thus created school workshops where I teach the Wise Student strategies during the day in the classroom to students, or in the evening to families.
In-Class Student/Teacher Workshop:
Over two visits, I demonstrate how the Wise Student strategies provide a system and common language to help students, teachers, and parents bridge the gap between school and home. In these lively, interactive sessions, I encourage teachers to chime in and participate as I coach students on time management, organization, and study techniques, as well as goal-setting skills. Students learn how to create actionable plans that synthesize their academic and personal lives so that the positive feelings of being confident and organized can permeate every realm.
Evening Family Workshop:
In these light-hearted and method-packed evenings, I coach students, along with their parents or guardians, on how to use my time management and organization strategies as a means to bring their families together. Families will discover how to engage in a common language around the Wise Student system in order to open lines of communication and boost cooperation at home so that students can achieve their academic and personal best. Parents will walk away with a straight-forward tools that will help them support their children immediately. Students will gain clarity about how to communicate their responsibilities and objectives to their parents more effectively. Family workshops last for 1.5 hours and can be held in your school’s library or auditorium, depending on projected attendance. They are typically organized by a school’s PTA.
Whether you would like to have me present in-class or to families, use my online course as a supplement to your curriculum, or create something together that is unique to the needs of your school, I consider it a privilege to work with you so that all students can become Wise Students who are organized, confident, and happy.
Clear, relevant, accessible
The most challenging part of transitioning from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school is organization and time management. Penny regularly meets with my fifth grade class to facilitate workshops which bolster their executive functioning. Her sessions have greatly increased my student's productivity, organization and planning, emotional self-control, focus, and initiative. Penny's clear and relevant lessons are accessible to all students and they provide the necessary skills to be successful today and in the future. Her program is an integral part of my classroom management and curriculum and essential in helping my students reach their academic and personal goals.
– Brian M., M.Ed
25 years teaching experience
President, Burlingame Education Association, CA
Family Workshop Reviews
“Practical approach for how to help kids see they can control their schedule & prioritize. Penny has great energy and a passion for what she does which helped my daughter get excited about things she normally avoids. :)”
“Great energy by the presenter, managed to keep everyone engaged and make it fun.”
“The workshop materials were very interactive and the presenter kept the teenagers (& the parents) engaged.”
“Keep doing this workshop. It was terrific!”
“Penny Kostaras is a master of her field. Penny found a unique and engaging method to teach and demonstrate how organization and planning of daily/monthly tasks can help everyone achieve school-life-balance and succeed in school.”
“Clear communication. High energy. Connecting with youth and parents alike.”
“Everything was explained clearly and simply and she was very passionate about helping kids & families.”