Dear Little A

Little A ShoesDear Little A,

There are some students that will forever tug at my heart-strings; you are one of them.

Before we began our journey together, I felt so much uncertainty about nearly every aspect of life: career, family, friends, relationships, even my little apartment. See, I was taught that feelings sometimes get in the way of the work, and so I didn’t quite know how to express my fear and restlessness. Instead, I stifled it. Tucked it away, hoping that it would magically disappear.

But you, you are a child who wears her emotions on her sleeve. When you are happy, you show it with a grin and a knee bump or two. When you are sad, anyone within earshot will know it. We may never speak the same language, but I know when you are sleepy, angry, hurt, excited, frustrated, or joyful. I know when you want more swing, pats, music, blocks, peek-a-boo, eat, nap, walk, run, and spin. I also know when you are all done. Well, we all know that one — you are very clear.

Little A, you showed me what it looked like to live fully in the moment. You encouraged me to set high expectations for myself and my students. You reminded me that the data sheets will get done in due time. You taught me that success is not measured by whether we met or exceeded the benchmarks but, rather, by whether my dedication yielded just a small but positive difference in the lives of my students and relationships with my colleagues.

It is thanks to you that I continue to follow my passion, learning to help students blossom and become more independent, more expressive, more communicative, and more curious, just like you.

As I close the chapter on our school day adventures, I want to let you know how honored and privileged I am to have been with you for the big moments and the little ones.

You will forever be my Little A.

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Terry Tutors Specialized Education Services, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit providing wraparound academic, behavior and advocacy support services for struggling students in southern California. Learn More at



Defining Self & Success

SuccessAs it stands today, education is geared towards teaching our young students the importance of achieving success. How we define success can make or break our students self-worth. All too often, success is defined according to our culture and in today’s society, success means having money and power so that you can be in control of your own happiness.

My New Definition of Success

As a well-educated and self-proclaimed “definer” of my own success,  I too adhered to society’s definition. The typical Type A student, I found myself always trying to live up to and then exceed my own expectations, attempting to outdo my last triumph and climb the ladder towards the next goal that would reinvigorate my self-worth and value to others. But it seemed the ladder never ended and that if I chose to, I could climb forever.  Only recently, did I begin to question the definition of success I adopted as a child. Through age, experience, and honestly the fact that I was just so tired of my never-ending climb, I  began to realize that my definition of success hinged on control.

And then I realized that control was an illusion.

The fact is I have no control over anyone or anything, except my own behavior, choices and actions. That’s it. After the initial shock wore off, it was oddly reassuring to know that the weight of worrying about having enough money and power so that I could be happy one day had lifted. A new chapter had begun.

I no longer have to wait till I have enough to be happy, I can just be.

Collectively Learning Success Through Praise

Children learn to define success through praise. We were praised for taking our first step, eating our first solid food, and using the potty for the first time. Our basic definition of success revolved around our basic needs. As children grow, the adults in their lives praise them for different things, harder things like getting an A on a test. If you’re praised for getting an A, then achieving an A becomes part of your definition of success. And we, as a culture, unquestionably accept this definition.

But what if we began defining success less collectively and more individually?

At the core of education is understanding how we each learn differently. We’re all good at different things and we all struggle with different challenges. Yet, we are taught to define success in the same way.

The system of education is beginning to catch up with the notion of individualized learning, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, and even brain-mapping. Most educators acknowledge the research but many cannot fathom how to teach 32 students in 32 different ways. Classroom practices will have to be redefined to accommodate this new definition of learning too.

Embrace Individualized Education Now

I’m afraid we cannot wait for the system to catch up with the student. It’ll be too late and another generation lost to the definition that an A means you’re worthy. The work of change must be done now.

It’s important that parents and teachers collaborate, looking at the whole child and honoring their strengths while redefining their challenges. How do we do this?  At home, you can begin to praise your child for achieving a B or even a C in that really hard subject. So your child’s strength is with words and not formulas. That’s okay. She will still be successful in her own right. At school, you can begin to praise your shy student for his thoughtful paper on the subject, even though he chose not to raise his hand to participate in the class discussion.

Redefine Your Expectations

I want to be clear: I am not saying to lower your expectations, but, rather, redefine them in accordance with your child’s individual strengths and challenges. Children want to please you; they will rise to the challenges you set for them. It’s our job, as parents and teachers, to make sure those challenges build upon each other in an attainable way.

Do we define a baby’s first fall as failure? No, we define it as learning. Expectation and failure go hand in hand. Some parents and educators shy away from exposing their students to failure at a young age for fear their child will think of themselves as a failure. Did the baby think of herself as a failure when she fell for the first time? Probably not because her parents reassured her that it would be okay. Then her parents helped their child up and she attempted to learn to walk again.

That’s exactly what we as parents and teachers should be doing with our students: redefining success and failure as, simply, learning.

The challenge is really within ourselves because until we can redefine our own successes and failures as learning, we cannot extend the same kindness towards our children. How we treat others is a reflection of how we see ourselves. That’s one lesson I continue to learn over and over again. Thankfully, that’s a lesson I’m ready to learn.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Executive Director of Terry Tutors Specialized Education Services.

She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping struggling students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them in and out of the classroom.






10 Special Ed Blogs that Make You Wanna Go “Yeah!”

special_education_blogsMy Twitter feed is on fire with some awesome blogs lately. There are so many resources out there in internet-land that I had to share a few of my favorites.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, need to find more education, or just want to talk about your frustrations then check out these gems in the blogosphere.


  1. Adventures in Aspergers
  2. Autism Father Blog
  3. Autism Hippie
  4. Firefly Friends
  5. Fusion Academy
  6. Innovative Speech & Language Pathology
  7. Love That Max
  8. National Center for Learning Disabilities
  9. The Center for Well-Being
  10. Wrightslaw

For more resources take a look at our LinksWeLove or Find Us on Facebook & Twitter

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services.  Want to Know More? Head on over to

I am Thankful for My Sister: The Amazing Speech Pathologist

Elisabeth Zambia

Elisabeth Miller, Extraordinary Speech Pathologist, in Zambia, Africa providing Speech Services with CLASP International

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to give a well-deserved “Thanks!” to my talented and extraordinary little sister, Elisabeth Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP. She has many letters after her name but there’s not an ounce of pomp. Elisabeth works for RiverKids Pediatric Home Health, where she provides clinical Speech & Language Therapy services for Medicaid Patients ages Birth to 21.  Since she’s so kindly taken the Thanksgiving break to visit her L.A. based sister (myself), I thought I’d take this opportunity to interview her about her work in hopes that it will lend some clarity as to what exactly Speech & Language Pathologists (SLP) do.

In general, what does a Speech & Language Pathologist do?

We treat people with all types of communication disorders, which includes any disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and understand the world around them. We also work on feeding and swallowing for kids and adults who have food aversions/swallowing disorders, and babies weaning from G-Tubes.

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in Speech Pathology?

My mother (our mother) picked it for me. I wanted to work with children, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher in a school because I didn’t know if I wanted to work with large groups of kids. My mother told me to be an SLP because I could work with kids or adults in a 1:1 setting in a hospital or school, and I would always have a job .

Have you found that to be true?

Yes, jobs are plentiful. Totally recession proof. It’s emotionally rewarding and challenging.

What types of kids do you work with?

I see children who have complex medical histories, like prematurity, long hospital stays, weaning from g-buttons or ventilators. I encounter parents who are overwhelmed with the diagnosis and I’m  able to provide family support, education, training, and help their child see improvements.

Tell us a story. A good one about your experience as an SLP.

My favorite kids are those who are labeled as Intellectually Disabled (ID) formerly known as Mentally Retarded. My one little boy, age 9, was labeled as ID and never really able to speak. He had lots of therapy but what I discovered during testing was that he actually had complex motor deficits, including dysarthria (muscle weakness), and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), which prevented him from acquiring spoken language. His family had wanted him to speak but had given up hope that it was possible because it had been so many years and he just wasn’t progressing. What I found is that when we took the focus away from forcing him to communicate and teaching him instead how to control the muscles in his mouth to formulate sounds, syllables, and words that he was quite capable of being a verbal communicator; he just never had the opportunity or appropriate treatment. I have learned never to give up on kids based on a diagnosis of ID or Autism. Currently, he’s 10 now and he’s playing with his siblings appropriately and calls for them by name using short phrases. He’s making great strides.

What’s one thing you think that the schools do well at in terms of providing SLP Services to students?

I think the schools are doing well at trying to identify children earlier and getting them into special programs at a younger age, which means that they will hopefully have better outcomes as they get older.

What’s one thing you think the schools could improve upon?

Not removing services for children who are in Middle and High School, as this is a critical period for them to learn skills they may not have acquired during their younger years, such as reading, social-communication skills, and functional communication. We have to better prepare them to leave high school.

Have you found your passion within your career?

Definitely! I love working with pediatrics. I work in a Home Health setting and I get the best of both worlds: access to the family, home environment, and able to work with the child 1:1 or incorporate siblings or peers within the community.

So proud of my little sis. For more on Elisabeth and her work, check out CLASP International and RiverKids Pediatric Home Health

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services.  Want to Know More? Head on over to

Be a Student of the Universe: Applied Learning

applied learningApplied Learning. You’ve likely heard the phrase floating around the education world for a while now. Life Hacks and School Hacks are some other prominent ideas making their way to the mainstream. These new terms of art give us a peek inside the new ways forging precedent for using your education as a stepping stone rather than an end goal.

And we should prepare our students for this new reality. For so many families the end goal is getting their kid to college. I caution families that a college degree alone should not be the ultimate goal. Rather, college gives a student a foundational skill set. What they do with that skill set, however, is not something college can teach.

Apply your conventional education to an unconventional path

I recently read an article directed towards law students and new grads–people, like myself, who had intentionally chosen a conventional path to obtain stability, that is until the Great Recession of 2008 happened and stability went out the window. It was appropriately titled “Employment After Law School: The Cold Truth“. And boy was it on point!

After reading, I realized that I had already done what the article suggested– taken my traditional law degree and applied it in a new way to a new industry. What I had blindly done out of survival became the core of my success. I had found a way to merge my passion for advocacy with my love of education. I had, indeed, applied my text-book learning to the real world.

How did I do it?

I graduated law school in 2010 and no one was hiring. So I decided to create my own path to success, which began by taking a chance on a Working-Holiday visa overseas in New Zealand and canvassing Auckland for a firm in my field of interest. I found one that was happy to have an American come on board for a bit and I gained valuable international legal experience and made some life-long friends in the process. Thanks QCL!

When I came back to the US in 2011, the economy was getting better but still in flux and the legal world was still trying to find its way. I hemmed and hawed at what to do. After all, I was in significant student loan debt and, although I had a great analytical and writing skill set, I couldn’t figure out how to apply it to an industry outside of law.

So I fell back on my “before-law-school” skills: Psychology, Nannying, and Tutoring. I was really good at working with kids of all ages struggling in school. As I would sit with these students helping them with their homework, I realized there was a lot more going on here: a learning difference, behavior challenge, social skills need, or family dynamic concern. I started putting my law school research skills to use and found that what these kids most likely qualified for was an IEP, which would provide learning and therapeutic services at school and funding through the state. My sister, who is a Speech Pathologist and never has to worry about not having a job, encouraged me to pursue my digging with the caveat that schools don’t like to give away money and it will be an uphill battle. My legal brain was excited. Maybe I could even use some of my Client Counseling and Alternative Dispute Resolution skills.

I began walking parents through the difficult and emotional process of how to receive state funds and advocating on their behalf at SST’s, IEP’s, and appeals. My legal skills gave me a leg up and I finally felt that my law education was being put to good use.

Three years after I graduated from law school, I formalized my new endeavor in the education law world and Founded Terry Tutors: One Comprehensive Support Service for Struggling Students. I am proud to be an Education Advocate for Special Needs and owner of my own small business.

After law school, it was scary out there because the stability that I had sought no longer existed. I had to create my own job, but I couldn’t have done it successfully without my foundational legal skill set.

The Takeaway

The traditional, individualistic path is slowly being replaced by a collaborative one. Things have changed, and we have to create a new tradition, one that requires us to take our foundational skill set achieved through conventional means and apply it towards new industries. For our students, they are living in a time of unlimited information by way of the internet. They are exposed to creative thought on a new level, in a way that we, as adults, did not grow up knowing.

I believe this will allow our students to forge ahead and pioneer their own educational and career pathways at a younger age. But they still need us. Our students need the teachers and parents in their lives to foster this desire to engineer their own careers. It is our job to give them the foundations of successful schooling by tapping into their potential early on. If we pledge to do so, our students will not feel stifled by their choices but, rather, excited by their possibilities.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student by combining Academic, Behavior, and Advocacy support. Want to Know More? Head on over to

We are Nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

very-inspringaward We are honored to be nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thank you to Karuna for the nomination and for sharing her personal insight into Living, Learning, and Letting Go.

The Terry Tutors Blog is a complement to our Comprehensive Support Service for Struggling Students found at Terry  We are dedicated to helping families learn valuable tips, tools, and techniques for guiding their kids towards academic and life success. We believe in Serving The Whole Student. As such, our blog is geared towards striking a balance between the challenging world of education and the emotional support kids need in order to reach individual achievement.

Since January 2013, we’ve had the privilege of working with kids who are struggling in school due to a learning difference, behavior challenge, social skills need, or family dynamic concern. Oftentimes, these kids are labeled “The Problem Student” and spend most of their day in the principal’s office. We are able to turn things around in a positive, collaborative way and help Struggling Students become Successful Students through (1) our conscious effort to re-frame the school’s approach to teaching a child with out-of-the-box needs, and (2) by helping the family accept the gifts that a child with these attributes brings to the table.

Paying It Forward:

In the spirit of paying it forward, we would, in turn, like to nominate the following bloggers for their efforts to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves.

If you’ve been nominated for this outstanding award, take a moment and pay it forward. Rules & Guidelines:

  1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself. [See Below for Examples]
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

7 Facts About Me:

  • Christine’s favorite thing to do is to have a picnic in a palm tree filled park with a old-fashioned newspaper and fake chicken curry salad whilst looking out onto the beautiful ocean.
  • Christine loves to say “whilst”.
  • Christine has frequented the Farmers Markets in all of the cities she has lived in and is trying her darndest to live a vegan and gluten-free life style.
  • Christine desperately misses cheese.
  • Christine also desperately wants a dog, preferably a Collie or a Chow that is ten times her size.
  • Christine has two younger sisters, whom she considers her best friends in the whole wide world.
  • Christine started Terry Tutors because she wants to change her piece of the world. She combined her passion for advocacy with her love of education and created her own perfect job.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student by combining Academic, Behavior, and Advocacy support. Want to Know More? Head on over to

The World is HAPPY!

The world has gone crazy for happiness lately, thanks to singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams and his latest colorful tune: HAPPY! Check out the World’s answer to his Happy song

The power of positivity and positive thinking starts with the ability to be your authentic, silly, dancin’ selves. When we are our authentic selves, we are able to look at the world through a different lens– a humbled perspective laden with empathy rather than sympathy.

I’ve recently taken on the #100 Happy Days challenge, where each day I post a picture of what makes me happy. This exercise is intended to help change my perspective– to look at the world through a different lens– a grateful lens. Gratefulness helps us appreciate the important things we often deem as small.

The most important thing I’ve discovered throughout these beginning stages of my own happiness project is the all-powerful concept of Time. It is becoming more apparent everyday that I value my time more than any other commodity. Time is beginning to be the driving force behind my decisions and I find myself constantly evaluating the who, the what, the where, the when, and the why of projects, clients, meetings, reports, friends, and family to answer one question: Is this how I want to spend my time today?

Your happy is the foundation of who you are and what you project to the outside world.

How do you help your kids find their happy? Well, before we can help our children, we must help ourselves. It’s a top-down model. If you parent your child as a happy parent, your children will model your behavior and vice-versa. Parents set the tone for their kids and their family dynamic as a whole, and these memories last a lifetime.

To know this is true, all you have to do is to think back to your own memories as a child: Were your parents able to model happiness for you? If yes, then you have strong foundation in what happiness looks like. If no, then it will be a bit more difficult to discern what happiness is.

Happiness is the popular term for contentment, and true contentment comes from within. It cannot be bought but rather realized. Some people think it’s unattainable and it is our entire life’s work to attempt to reach enlightenment. Most would agree contentment is a choice. We choose in that moment to view the difficult situation through a grateful lens. We acknowledge the emotion instead of pushing it down and waiting for it to explode later on. We humble ourselves, viewing failure as a forward-motion for change instead of defeat.

Children are a reflection of their parents. You can model contentment for your child just by learning to be content with yourself. To get started, I encourage you to try your own #100HappyDays Project and help your kids learn the art of contentment too.

The SuperBetter Game — Another gratefulness exercise that can add 10 extra years to your life.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to

An Earthquake & Fender-Bender…Nothing a Little Chocolate and Perspective Can’t Fix

Chocolate-Ganache-CupcakesWe all have our days, and so does the universe. As I snack on spoonfuls of homemade dark chocolate and coconut cream ganache (Yep, made it myself thanks to 2006, where I spent my days learning the ropes at Layers Cake Design Studio) I am reminded that there is nothing a little chocolate and perspective can’t fix.

Like all Los Angelenos,  I, too, awoke to a 4.4 earthquake that shook me outta bed and tumbling into the world yesterday morn. Up before dawn, without an alarm. A rarity, indeed. Thus began a series of events that could have clouded my day if I chose to let it except for the fact that as I was slowly waking up perusing the online news with hot espresso roast in hand, I read this:

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

Frederick Buechner

Out the door and ready to meet my kiddo for an in-classroom behavior support and social skills session, I got no further than 7 minutes down Fulton Avenue before I heard a scccreeecchhh, then a JOLT as I lunged forward unexpectedly. I got of my little car out to survey the damage. Only a bit of bumper in need of repair. Whew! I turned to the Honda behind me and asked if she was okay. She was. Then I saw a Chevy behind her with a young driver visibly upset. Without hesitation, I walked towards her. “I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault,” she sobbed. Putting aside the inadmissible excited utterance, I reassuringly replied, “We’ve all been there. It’s ok.” I wrapped my arms around her, like I do when my students are overcome with so much frustration that they can no longer hold in their emotion, and as traffic zipped past us rushing to their individual daily grinds I remembered that:

“There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.”

Han Suyin

She was a 23 year old student teacher finishing up her credentialing at a nearby elementary school. I calmly walked her through the process of exchanging insurance info, calling the police (by the way, LAPD does not show up to fender-benders, so says the 911 lady. Whoops. Lesson learned.), and attempting to direct her car out of traffic. We sat on the sidewalk as life resumed around us. I learned that she really wanted to be an actor and did not like driving. She lived with her mom but wanted to move to New York and took this as a sign that she was ready to make the Big Apple her new home.  I waited until her step-dad arrived and then gave her a hug goodbye.

I’d like to think that compassion is a natural state of being for all of us humans, but that would be my idealistic self touting theory. Rather, my experience has always been that compassion is a choice predicated on perspective. We choose to embrace compassion, empathy, and in the process we earn the joy of connecting to another in need.

I was classified as no-fault, but I would’ve been if I had chosen to react in anger rather than empathy. It’s all about perspective, right. In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re deemed at-fault though, nothing can replace the compassion you choose to express or mask in that jolted moment.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to

Working Towards Wholeheartedness

“Our job is to look [at our kids] and say, ‘Ya know what, you’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we’ll end the problems we see today.” ~  Dr. Brene Brown, Vulnerability Researcher 

The Power of Vulnerability

Be Your Imperfect Self

I was blown away when I heard this talk by Brene Brown, Vulnerability Researcher, because I saw myself in her: Wanting to quantify emotion rather than reveal to others who I really was for fear that I wasn’t good enough. Until recently,  I had not yet realized the power of allowing myself to be excruciatingly seen, no matter the consequence. Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather courage. What?! This flew in the face of my long-lived logic and understanding of how to get things done and earn respect.  I had not yet made this connection and had, therefore, put aside connecting with others in favor of trudging through the murky waters of self-doubt. I did not feel worthy of love and belonging, but yet I had a profound, almost urgent, desire for relationship and connection. The tipping point emerged when I finally realized that all this time I had chosen to live my life climbing the ladder towards acceptance when all I really had to do was accept the fact that I didn’t need to climb the ladder at all. My only job is to be my imperfect self.

You are Worthy of Love & Belonging

Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability revealed there are really only two types of people: (1) those who are wholehearted individuals, and (2) those who are not. The only factor that separated the two groups was that the wholehearted people believed they were worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. A simple belief that I, that you, that your kids are worthy of love and belonging. Connection is ultimately why we’re here. At the heart of school, family, community, religion, marriage, and parenting is the deep-seeded need and desire for authentic connection with others. At the core of teaching should be helping children develop a deep sense of worthiness so they can connect and live a loving, open, vulnerable life.

Open Your Eyes to Joy

I can tell you from personal experience that the moment I consciously chose to live a vulnerable life was the moment I saw the world with fresh eyes: an excitement like none other, a revelation of the beauty that is around us, a moment of joy, which becomes stronger each time I practice vulnerability. I chose to willingly embrace this change so that I can learn to believe that I am worthy of love and belonging. The hope is that one day I won’t have to consciously choose to practice it but rather just inherently know my own self-worth. This lesson was so overwhelmingly on-point that, like Dr. Brene Brown, I, too, had a mini-breakdown full of regret and emotional contemplation, which were vague and foreign concepts for someone like myself who justified her lack of belonging and pushed her feelings so far down that being guarded became the norm. It rocked me to my core so much that I knew without a doubt — if I wanted a real life with real love I had to embrace real change.

Live By Example for Your Kids

After I turned the proverbial corner, I saw greater hope and understood the reason to live vulnerably: to live by example. As a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, mentor, teacher, and friend the children in your life look up to you. They want guidance, acceptance, and help. They expect you to show them what to do and how to do it successfully. The problem that we face within our families and our culture in general is that we don’t know how to live vulnerably in a society that numbs itself from authentic connection. It is time to break that cycle. It is time to open ourselves up to courage, connection, and compassion. It is time to: “Stop screaming, and start listening… Stop trying to make uncertainty, certain… Stop controlling and predicting.. Say ‘I love you’ first, even when there are no guarantees…”  Wouldn’t it be a very different world if we approached each family argument, poor grade, and lost friendship from this starting point?

Wholeheartedness, here I come.

Another Powerful Study by Dr. Brene Brown: Listening to Shame

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to

What Would Anne Do?

Im-so-glad-I-live-in-a-world-where-thereAnne of Green Gables: the classic novel of tragic turn-of-the-century orphan whose rosy outlook and outspoken tendencies pave the way for numerous endearing shenanigans. Anne is a character that changes the hearts and minds of everyone she touches just by being her honest, loving self, and because of that iconic quality Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series makes me smile.

You could say I’m a bit of an Anne-groupie: The movie is my holiday treat, Anne and Gil’s contentious friendship turned romance is wrought with Jane Austen-like plot twists, and of course, I make my students read the books too.

Over 100 years have passed since the book’s initial publication and yet Anne remains a staple in the literature world, a representation of childhood dreams and the power they hold well into adulthood. It is a story of love, loss, hope, sacrifice, risk, and above all, honesty.

Here are 15 Things We Learned from Anne by

  1. Making mistakes is a part of life; but if you make up your mind to learn from them, they can’t hold you back.“It’s so hard to get up again—although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you have when you do get up, haven’t you?” 
  2. People won’t always understand you, but that doesn’t mean you should conform to the ideals of unimaginative people.
  3.  Kindred spirits can be found in very unexpected places, so give everyone a chance
  4. Imagination makes the world a better place, but unfortunately it is of no help at all when it comes to geometry.
  5.  A plain or boring name does not define you: “That’s a lovely idea, Diana,’ said Anne enthusiastically. ‘Living so that you beautify your name, even if it wasn’t beautiful to begin with…making it stand in people’s thoughts for something so lovely and pleasant that they never think of it by itself.”
  6. When it comes to boys, set your standards high and don’t bother with those who don’t meet that standard: “Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything, does it?
  7. Octobers make the world a more beautiful place.
  8. Wearing pretty clothes makes it easier to be good, specifically, wearing puffed sleeves.
  9. No matter how dreary today looks, no matter how flawed we may feel, there is always hope in a new day. Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.
  10. Having ambitions and big goals can be tiring, but they are worth the sacrifice. One should never stop working diligently toward something.
  11. Literature not only opens different worlds to us, it helps us to see the world differently.
  12.  One should be in no hurry to grow up whatsoever. “One can’t get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.” 
  13. Always speak what is on your mind if it adds beauty to the conversation, “If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet,’ said Priscilla. Anne glowed. ‘I’m so glad you spoke that thought, Priscilla, instead of just thinking it and keeping it to yourself. This world would be a much more interesting place…although it is very interesting, anyhow…if people spoke out their real thoughts.” 
  14. It is better to live vulnerably, than to live in fear that your hopes may be dashed: “When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”
  15. And finally, the lesson that possibly took Anne the longest to learn: true love doesn’t look like it does in day dreams, “Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps…perhaps…love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to