Sixth Grader Fights for Study Skills!

It’s not every day that a middle school student spearheads a major school curriculum initiative. Yet that’s exactly what happened when a sixth-grader at Wetsel Middle School in Madison, VA compiled a petition of 250 student signatures and asked his school board to adopt SOAR®!

Timothy Decatur-Luker

Timothy Decatur-Luker, a sixth-grader from Madison, VA, collected signatures from 250 peers and asked his school board to adopt SOAR® Study Skills.
Photo courtesy of

That sixth-grader is Timothy Decatur-Luker; Timothy is the youngest student council president ever for his 6-8th grade school.  He is an “A” student, a busy student athlete, and has Aspergers syndrome.

It was his participation in sports that helped Timothy recognize the need for study skills.  He saw several of his classmates miss out on sports because they did not know how to be organized or study.

He knew there must be an easier way to manage homework, studying, and sports, too.  Somehow, Timothy knew there had to be a better way to get organized and study smarter.

Timothy did an internet search and found SOAR®.  He thought it was a perfect match for his and his classmates’ needs.

Newspaper article about Timothy entitled, "Sixth Grader Asks Officials for Study Skills Class."

Newspaper article about Timothy entitled, “Sixth Grader Asks Officials for Study Skills Class.”

He prepared a presentation, a petition, and collected signatures from over 250 peers.  On the evening of November 12, 2012, he  stood before his school board asking them to adopt SOAR®.

When Timothy delivered his request for SOAR®, the school board responded enthusiastically.  They loved the idea, but they they didn’t have the budget.

That didn’t stop Timothy.

Timothy then applied for several grants.  Unfortunately, all of the deadlines had passed.  That’s when he first contacted me.

He sent a very professional note asking if I knew of any additional grants for which he could apply.  He shared details of all the work he had already done; his passion for study skills was nothing short of inspiring!

Alternative Funding—Community Sponsorship!

I happened to be meeting with a network of fellow entrepreneurs the day I received Timothy’s email.  I was so moved by his story and shared it with the group.  Someone in the group suggested that Timothy could find a community sponsor.

Before I could breathe a sound in response, one of my colleagues slammed his hand on the table announcing, “I’m your sponsor!  I’ll support that kid!  He’s amazing and this is a great cause!”

I was stunned to have a sponsor so quickly and flattered that one of my colleagues shares my strong conviction for the work we do.

The sponsor, Jim Fitzgerald, is also from Virginia.  He is the President and CEO of a print company, Taradel, LLC (, and has graciously stepped forward to support Timothy and his peers of Westel Middle School in Madison, VA.

“We’re excited to support this student-driven initiative,” said Fitzgerald. “When children are asking to learn, and independently finding solutions to make that happen, the clear response is to support the children to the full extent. The students at Westel are already so excited about SOAR®, and as soon as the school administration adopts the program, it will be an empowering educational experience for everyone involved.”

Thanks to Taradel, Timothy, and the support of the school board, Wetsel students have a learning opportunity they deserve.  They have an opportunity to learn the strategy behind learning; this is a gift that will serve them for life!

About the SOAR® Curriculum:

Thanks to Our Friends from Taradel, LLC! Based in Glen Allen, Va., Taradel ( is both an online and local leader in high-quality, print advertising production. Offering some of the most competitive rates in the industry, Taradel specializes in a diversity of printing needs, from full-color flyers to glossy postcards, delivering first-rate results and vibrant full-color printing. Particularly designed for small business needs, Taradel excels in going the extra mile when it comes to its top-notch products, timely, dependable services, and personable customer service.


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