Jacqueline Fleming has experienced the heartbreak of seeing her child struggle through school. For most of his life, her son, Tyler McClure, has confronted a learning disability that made school a challenge and made him self-conscious. As an eighth grader at Lincoln Magnet Middle School, Tyler was reading at a fourth-grade reading level and struggling tremendously with reading comprehension.
Fleming tried her best to help him. At times, she even read the books he was assigned for class so she could coach him through it. She wanted so badly for him to improve, for "the light bulb to come on," as she put it. But nothing seemed to work.
Then, in 2011, Fleming enrolled Tyler in Summer Advantage USA, a summer engagement program The Mind Trust helped to launch in Indianapolis through its Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. Summer Advantage helps low-income students make academic gains during the summer, rather than following the typical pattern of falling behind because they lack learning opportunities.
The program provided a breakthrough for Tyler. After his summer in the program, his reading ability improved by more than three grade levels - to almost an eighth grade level. Because of his ability to read, Fleming said, his confidence has soared.
"The program has helped him figure out things for himself," Fleming said. "They've given him a way to do it - it's amazing. I've never seen him so gung ho and out to conquer the world."
Now Tyler is taking the kinds of classes he would never have dreamed of taking before, including science and social studies, and has maintained B averages in those classes. He also started playing two new sports this year - baseball and wrestling - and won a championship in wrestling.
"He's an amazing kid - he always has been - but now I'm seeing him in another light," Fleming said. "To see him have this confidence, it's almost like seeing him take his first steps over again."