Teacher uses her own learning difficulties to help students find success
Growing up, Lyndia Klasko never fully understood why she was so unfocused in the classroom. It wasn’t until years later as an adult that she found an answer. Klasko was a graduate student when she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Klasko now uses her personal struggles with the neurodevelopmental disorder to support and encourage her students as a sports medicine teacher at Clinton County RESA.
“I want to be able to give back to students in a way that people weren’t able to give to me,” she said. “I do whatever it is that I know I have to do for them just so I can sleep at night.”
A key to her approach is understanding that different students thrive on different approaches to learning.
“From varied classroom instruction techniques to multiple measures of assessment, students aren’t afraid to try, and sometimes fail, because they know Ms. Klasko will continually coach them to do their best,” said Jennifer Branch, career education director at Clinton County RESA.
“Lyndia is the type of instructor who truly cares about each of her students as individuals, trying to get to know their hobbies and interests and support their growth in all aspects,” Branch added. “She goes the extra mile, as is demonstrated by her choosing to cheer a student on in an extracurricular competition, make a positive phone call home when there are accomplishments to be celebrated and many other daily decisions she makes.”
It was a classmate at Oakland University that spurred Klasko to get tested for ADHD. Klasko was obtaining her master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science at the time.
“I figured I had nothing to lose,” Klasko said. “I would procrastinate (on assignments) and just get so distracted. I would sit in class and count the bricks on the wall. I wasn’t trying to be rude or disrespectful. I just got bored very easy.”
The testing took six weeks and was followed by the diagnosis of ADHD. Klasko confided to a professor about the condition and was surprised by his response.
“He said, ‘Lyndia, I know. That’s why during exams I give every student one break. … You needed that break for a good reason,’” Klasko said.
Understanding her condition helped Klasko grasp the “why” in what she did, and treatment and exercise helped her overcome it. Now she shares those experiences with her students to help them surpass their own hurdles on their education paths, whether it’s ADHD, a history of trauma or personal issues.
“If you’ve never dealt with anything like ADHD, it’s like having the worst train wreck in your head. People judge you if they don’t understand,” Klasko said. “That’s why I try to be transparent about it with my students. You have to pay attention to your students and ask, ‘Why is this person acting like that?’ … Somebody has to care. How does a student get to be a junior in high school and no one realizes that they need special accommodations?”
Parent Traci Ruiz credits Klasko’s openness and honesty in the classroom — as well as her energy and perspective in her approach to teaching — with helping her son.
“Lyndia is passionate about using teaching styles that work for all learners and truly cares about her students’ successes,” Ruiz said. “She was the ray of sunshine that encouraged our son, Kaeden, to not only graduate … but also pursue a degree at Lansing Community College. Our hope is that her story motivates other educators to ask ‘why’ a student is behaving in a certain fashion and to get creative with different teaching styles for ultimate academic wins.”
Klasko is humble about her role in her students’ lives and said she doesn’t see herself as being solely responsible for giving students the motivation to continue their high school education.
“But if I can do one thing to help you realize how important of a person you are, I’ll do it,” she said. “I think it’s important with kids at that age to let them know how awesome they are. I can’t make somebody graduate or come to class, but I can let them know I care. … You have to care about the students you’re serving or else you really can’t be effective.”
When Life Hands You Lemons
The Lansing Lugnuts brought the Lemonade League to Cooley Law Stadium with teams comprised of baseball players representing 18 different colleges. Players were split into the Collegiate Lugnuts or the Collegiate Locos and games ran from July 23 through Aug. 20. While fan capacity was limited in the stadium, the games were livestreamed free across social and digital platforms.
Photo by: MQH Photo Video