Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Wilson.
Julie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am originally from a very special small town in Michigan – Charlotte. I grew up with no cell phone or computer, loved playing kick the can, rode my bike everywhere, couldn’t wait for the county fair, marched in the band, and helped plan tennis court dance parties. After high school, I attended and graduated from Michigan State University in 1986 and worked for a year in Public Relations for a local college in Lansing, where I prepared high school students for college and employment. In 1987, I decided to make the big move to my dream city, Atlanta, GA. Fun fact – my family used to pass through ATL on our way to Sarasota, FL from Michigan when I was in elementary school and I would tell everyone “I will live here someday!” After arriving in ATL, I worked in Qualitative Market Research for 12 years, married Denny Wilson (just celebrated our 25th Anniversary!), and then retired to raise two children, Jake (now 22 – War Eagle) and Jenna (now 18 – Go Dawgs). When my children were in their elementary school years, my type-A personality got the best of me and I began to dabble with technology and designed a quiz creation website, helping elementary and middle school students with their critical thinking skills and study skills. After a demand to include high school and college students, I expanded to a second site and access to both of these free sites is still available nationwide (Qwizzysworld.com and CramStoppers.com). During the Spring of 2011, my son, a Jr. in High School at the time, was taking some ACT/SAT refresher sessions in reading comprehension, note-taking, etc. at a tutoring facility and after completing them he simply asked, “Why didn’t I have anything like this in middle school. It sure would have made my high school years a whole lot easier.” That one question sparked a year long journey of research and piloting of what has now become my new baby…a National Study and Social/Soft Skills Online Program for grades 5 – 12. iStudyforSuccess has expanded over the last three years and we are now in schools and homes in 36 states!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe that when you are doing something you are passionate about, the road is as smooth or bumpy as you make it. We went into this project with a strong conviction – we wanted to offer students both long-term educational and social growth opportunities! Any bumps we would hit were smoothed out by the fact that we had an “on-site” pilot experience in the classroom for an entire year before our release. The opportunity to gain student, parent, teacher, and administrative input made the writing process and final release quite easy. It’s rare to have such an incredible response in a test market situation. Through our growth, we have had some stress with monetary support to allow us to advertise to the national market, but even without it, through word of mouth and marketing, we are now in 36 States. Consistently bringing on new business is always a challenge, but one that we welcome. While the cost of our product is very affordable for schools, we hope to see a new phase in growth from Foundation and Grant Sponsorships.
Please tell us about iStudyforSuccess.
iStudyforSuccess is a web-based program offering an engaging and thought provoking way to introduce Study, Social, and Soft Skills to students during their impressionable and pre-employment years. With attention spans growing shorter and technology and the internet having such a strong impact on the lives of students, it’s vital to teach study techniques and interaction skills.
Our goal with the Study Skills Course is to help students expand their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, while improving their study habits essential for long-term success. The sessions offered emphasize Time Management, Organization, Quiz Creation/Test Taking Skills, Learning Styles, Study Habits, and Reading & Note Taking Strategies. The course appeals to different types of learning styles and can be applied to all subject areas. We also offer 28 Social/Soft Skills sessions to help boost students’ self-confidence and self-respect, while offering them lasting techniques to call upon when interacting with family, friends, and in the school setting. Some of the topics presented in this course are: Empathy vs. Sympathy, RESPECT!, Self-Monitoring/Patience, Commitment/Timeliness, Active Listening, Being a Team Player, and GRIT!
While piloting the program, we took into account that students simply don’t enjoy learning study skills, so we incorporated cartoons that open each session – students and teachers alike love the laughter! Teachers appreciate that the courses can be taught in a variety of ways. Not only as Connections or Electives classes, but also in RTI time, after school and youth services programs, in counseling departments, as enrichment for students in specialty programs, in media centers, and even integrated into year-long core classes. Parents can even teach their children the program over the summer to help them brush up on study skills. The Social/Soft Skills course has also been used as a complement to Business Ethics and Soft Skills Vocational Training courses at the high school level.
The best aspect of iStudyforSuccess is that the sessions were designed with ease of use in mind. All the materials and step-by-step instructions are included, which means there is no planning or training required for teachers. There is no research necessary, since all the topics are in one location – a one-stop shop philosophy.
We are very proud that we are able to affordably introduce skills that not only offer students long-term scholastic success, but also create respectable leaders, positive role models and great team members. It gives them a true advantage in their life journey, both educationally and personally!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Nothing. A great deal of planning and research went into the development of the iStudyforSuccess program and we were fortunate that Piney Grove Middle School, under the direction of Principal Terri North, granted us the opportunity to pilot it in 2012/13. Although it would have been great to come up with this idea before my own kids were in middle school, I live by the mantra that everything happens for a reason.
- A license for the online iStudyforSuccess Program is $195.00 and includes both the Study and Social/Soft Skills courses.
- Address: 6645 Willows Way, Cumming, GA 30040
- Website: www.iStudyforSuccess.com
- Phone: 678-793-3766
- Email: JulieWilson@iStudyforSuccess.com