Crystal Punch: Learning Specialist

Running River is unique in that it attracts a high population of visual spatial learners (VSL). Visual learners are essentially attracted to schools which offer experiential and creative learning opportunities within a relationship centered community. Families and students who attend RR desire an educational environment that honors the uniqueness of each child, teaches them how to learn, and strengthens their ability to communicate their knowledge. VSL’s share common characteristics- They are led by their heart and passions, they tend to be curious by nature and love exploring how and why things work. They will focus endlessly on subjects that they are passionate about. Their ideas are huge and everything is possible.  Their love of learning is palpable, but they need specific support to reach their goals. While they have all of the enthusiasm for learning, they do not have the habits of mind to “suffer” through the details. Simple organization, time management, sequence, prioritizing eludes them. They tend to be big picture thinkers and miss many of the details in their plans. If they are given structures to identify these pieces and strategies to effectively use this innate learning quality, they gain independence and confidence.

As an educator for the last 30 years, I have worked as a secondary math and science teacher. My expertise is in experiential project based learning. I trained to be a licensed Davis Dyslexia Facilitator, Co-authored: Picture IT…Teaching Visual Spatial Learners with Betty Maxwell, and have participated in discussion panels, salons, and education groups on the importance of understanding and supporting the visual students in our classrooms. I have also given many talks to parents regarding parenting the VSL.

In my private practice, I consult with families and educators, to determine the specific needs of the learner. After identifying the needs, I offer week long programs to address dyslexia, stealth dyslexia, 2E students, gifted, etc. Often it starts with a dyslexia program and then through the years, students usually need visual strategies for writing and reading non -fiction, math, study skills, and then organization and time management as they get into middle and high school grades. A large number of students I work with are college students who never learned efficient methods to study and focus.  I work closely with the families and help create realistic expectations, so the child gains tools to be an independent learner. This is a journey over several years and a very rewarding one.

I have developed programs for study skills and writing for students and adults.  I have worked with hundreds of families over the last 17 years to help them understand their gifts and visual strengths. My passion is working with teachers in their classrooms or giving workshops to facilitate understanding of this creative learning style in hopes of nurturing this learning modality and all it has to offer.

Testimonials for Crystal Punch

Our son Adrian started working with Crystal Punch when he was in 2nd grade. At that time he did a week-long program with her to work on his challenges with dyslexia and as a visual learner. We found that the process of building words and concepts out of clay really helped his reading and comprehension. Gaining the unique vocabulary and conceptual understanding of his imagination and thinking style was incredibly helpful. The presentation he gave at the end of the week was amazing to us. We had never seen him so organized and self-possessed. He was able to clearly explain to us how his thinking worked and what helped him. The techniques and language he learned from Crystal have been so valuable throughout his schooling. Even now years later, he still talks about his imagination dial.

            Adrian is now finishing 8th grade. We have checked in and visited Crystal intermittently through the years when challenges have arisen. This year we did another longer session as Adrian’s schoolwork became more challenging. Organizing the workload and expectations was difficult for Adrian and Crystal was able to help him come up with systems to keep up with everything that work with his visual thinking.

            What has been the most helpful thing throughout these 6 years has been having someone who really “gets” our son in a way no other educational professional has. Adrian trusts her absolutely and will always try her suggestions because he knows that she understands how he thinks. She always believes the best of him and appreciates his strengths and her confidence in his abilities means so much to Adrian and to us. Crystal is such a positive force in his education and his life.

The Orton-Gillingham approach seems to be the most traditionally recognized model

For addressing dyslexia.  But, Crystal Punch is trained using a different, more wholistic approach through the Davis Institute (a book called The Gift of Dyslexia was written by the Institute’s founder).    I have spent a ton of time and money over the years and Crystal ended up being the one who really seemed to help Paige in many ways and still does. 

 They say “it takes a village” to raise a great kid and I know that to be true with Paige……………..and, you’re one of those positive adult influences in her life and for that, many thanks, Crystal.

My daughter Raeann Adams was one of your very fortunate students back in April of 05 I believe.  We drove up from Colorado Springs. She went from barely passing school to being on the honor roll in high school.  She will soon finish up her sophomore year at Kubisaki High in Okinawa Japan. The difference in her is amazing.  I have recommended several other people to the program and those that have taken my advice have had the same success stories.

Working with Crystal Punch and the Davis has been an intricate part of (our) life journey through allowing my daughter to continue to instill in her that dyslexia is part of her being a unique gift to all of us she touches. I have walked alongside my daughter and have watched her grow from her dark cocoon of being a scared, withdrawn, confused, tearful 5th grader who was “shutting down” in her desire to learn because she believed she was incapable! Today, I am smiling because I will soon watch her walk along side her peers as she proudly, and with well deserved, great pride and gentle humility will receive her high school diploma. Now her journey is full of hope for her future as she assertively spreads her beautiful wings in preparation to move with confidence and grace into her new role as a college student.  

 Adyn is a lovely 13 yr old 8th grader. She is at a Brighton middle school that has a solid 8th grade team of teachers who are trying their hardest to understand and accommodate her co-morbid learning disabilities. She LOVES to read - always has 3 or 4 books she's reading - yes, all at the same time. She still needs accommodations if the reading/writing are too long - those are written in her 504 Plan. The District also identified her into the Gifted/Talented program because they found out she was in the 98th percentile of visual/spatial/perceptual reasoning learners. (But, we already knew that!). So, she has the label of being "Twice Exceptional." Her plan only addresses her advanced skills in math concepts right now (she's in Geometry - the most advanced math class at her middle school), but, she's really doing well with her art and music, too. She still uses the strategies you taught her and often fondly remembers your friendship and caring. She returns your greeting: actually she wanted me to plaster the page with "helllo" and "I miss you" - you get the picture.

Davis Learning Strategies® (DLS) is a must for any school!  Any new teacher that comes to our district (primary level) has to have the DLS training.  The difference I see in student achievement is greater than with any program I’ve supported.  The students have a much richer individual responsibility and accountability!  I can stand in the hall and if students are too loud, I can ask them to “turn their Dials down”.  That’s all I have to say and they understand.  Discipline problems have decreased significantly!  The common language that DLS provides makes communication amongst teachers and students work very efficiently.  Transitions are much smoother and teachers can have control of a classroom in just seconds. No time is wasted.  Because children learn how to Focus, the information stays with them, thus reducing reteaching.  I whole-heartedly endorse DLS and love the results that it has for children.  It gives them the ability to learn and also to self-manage.  I thank the Davis Association for bringing this amazing program to schools and empowering teachers with the ability to reach ALL children! 

 Kelli Loflin, Superintendent, Elbert Schoolskloflin@elbertschool.org

As you were thanking all of the volunteers I sat there wishing I had been able to help you in some capacity. Don't hesitate to ask for my help, though we both know I'm a busy boy. I do want to give back to the dyslexic community. If I had the patience I would love to be a facilitator. I feel so strongly about our "gift" and finally being on the inside of the playground has given me the perspective that there is a sea of people who haven't been fortunate enough to see the door.

Wow, this is the longest email I've typed to someone in a long time. I'm going to leave you with a final note.. I was hired by NBC to go to Vancouver in 2010 for the Winter Olympic Games. The Olympics is considered to be the top of the sports television field, next to the Super Bowl. I've come a long way in two years and I will always pinpoint the moment my life changed to that first Monday of our work together.

Thanks for all of your hard work last night and every day.

I first visited with Mrs. Crystal Punch in Sept. 2009.  In talking with her, she described our son to a T. I visited with her several times and we met in March 2010.  Within 15 minutes of meeting Crystal, Seth felt so comfortable, he told me to go shopping!  On the second day, I felt like I had a different son.  He was calmer, more focused, and staying with me.  Our son is dyslexic and his homeroom teacher forgets because he does so well.  He got exemplary in reading and math assessment tests in KS last year.  In our eyes, it's a miracle that God has given us such and incredible teacher!!!!   

      
In March 2012, we had the opportunity to take our younger son to see Mrs. Crystal.  He is ADHD and Crystal warned me we wouldn't probably see as fast results.  She is right, but the changes are still astounding.  He is learning to change his dial according to his environment.  He does fist to 5 daily with his teacher.  Crystal is so patient, compassionate, and positive that both boys thrived working with her.  I credit the Ron Davis Approach, but also know Crystal makes the difference.  I could have tried to do it all myself, but I KNOW we would never have had the amazing results Crystal has brought out in the boys!!!                                                         

 Her week spent with Crystal Punch learning the Davis method, she learned how to express herself in clay words/pictures. This experience began to open up a whole new world for my daughter.  Through this experience she began to realize and understand that she was smart, capable of thinking, and had the ability to learn! Working with Crystal Punch and the Davis method was the breakthrough for my daughter and me, to begin the process of healing from being beaten down by those who misunderstand the uniqueness of different styles of learning. Those who do not comprehend that people can learn through so many different dimensions, like creativity, visualizations, and imagery. That learning in itself is a unique process that contributes to the growth and development of an individual, if the person is allowed to learn to work out of his/her strengths, rather than consistently struggling to learn through one’s weaknesses.