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In This Issue:
Taking the Gritty Approach to Education
Study Tip: Where you place on the Grit Scale
Coach of the Month: Nicole Mirkin
Quick Links


Academic Success Partner of the Month


This month we highlight The New Money School and its co-founders, Alison Ivy Seligson and Lee Broekman. The two women, merging their expertise in communication and finance, recently founded this innovative school which educates parents and young people about money. 

After leaving the corporate world, Alison began teaching personal money management to teens at the Boys and Girls Club of Venice. Since joining forces with Lee, who began her doctoral studies in education and curriculum design, the two women have created a meaningful, dynamic and effective program that is fun for the students while also giving them the tools to prepare for their financial lives. Alison & Lee believe that demystifying money is crucial in getting students to understand how it works and can work for them in achieving their goals and living their dreams.

The New Money School also creates purposeful and practical money lessons for parents, knowing how powerful they can be in guiding their kids' financial futures. For more info visit the website, email or call 310.853.0734.

Looking for a Student Community Service Opportunity?

Meet Rickey Smith, social entrepreneur and owner of the sustainable food business Urban Green. He's started a community education venture called the Urban Green Kids Row program, creating opportunities for kids from diverse backgrounds to participate in many activities related to food sustainability, from planting seeds  to learning about how organic food is grown and harvested. For more info on a terrific community service and volunteering opportunity for kids, email Rickey, visit the website at

or call (800) 200 3320. 

Check out Our  YouTube Video!



Academic Success is very proud of the two-minute video we recently produced to give you a feel for who we are, our philosophy and the way we approach our work
How Academic Success Can Support You
At Academic Success we take great pride in finding the right coach to support the unique needs of each student we help.  Please check out the areas where we work on our  web site and let us know how we can support you.

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Looking for a College Counselor or Ed Therapist?
We work and partner with excellent Educational Therapists and College Counselors throughout the L.A. area.  Give us a call and we can recommend the right fit for your child.


Have you heard of the Merlin Principle?


During the course of their academic careers, students will hear a lot about many different study techniques: how to work harder, faster, better, how to set and work toward a 

specific goal.

The Merlin Principle takes that process and reverses it - students are asked to work backwards from a given target. 

This principle is applied every day in the business world. We ask ourselves where we need to be a week before our completed goal, two weeks, a month; in doing so, we create a pathway between where we intend to be and where we are, working backwards from our goal as we return to our starting point - the present. This technique can be incredibly helpful in charting a course toward ultimate success.

This month, we'll guide you through the process and provide an informative framework within which students and their support teams (tutors, parents, peers) can work. 


At Academic Success, we're devoted to giving our students the very best techniques with which to gain that critical edge in the quest for high achievement. 


Please call with any questions at (310) 823 4398 or


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All the best,




"The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is, the less there is."

                                                    - Pablo Picasso

Education News 

Goals To Milestones To Tasks 
That is the phrase that best encapsulates the Merlin process: reducing large, ambitious goals into smaller, achievable parts. This list of things commonly done by highly productive people begins with the focus on this month's issue: knowing how to work backwards from our goals. 
Seeing It To Believe It 


In order for students to be able to effectively use the tool of working backwards from a goal, it can be helpful to first visualize themselves reaching their destination. This strategic guide to meditation and visualization is a terrific first step in creating a pathway to realizing our dreams.


Laying Down Markers 


This helpful, informative article, featured in the University of Wisconsin newsletter, guides students through the process of projecting ourselves forward to long-term, short-term and immediate goals, with an emphasis on solving the problems that impede a student's quest for greater success.


 "Backward Design" Resurrecting Students


While many students will use the Merlin Principle, or Backward Design as it is often called, to reach goals within the school year, sometimes educators need to take a longer view. This inspiring story details the success of a Florida public school system that laid out a detailed 5-year plan for at-risk kids, working backwards to achieve amazing results.


 Merlin Works In Business


Although this incredibly effective technique will be mostly used by our readership in the short term for study, this instructive article demonstrates that it can be used in all areas of life: academia, athletics, the creative fields and, of course, business.

Study Tips 

 Breaking Time Into Bite-Sized Pieces 


While it may be an admirable goal to spend an entire evening at one's desk tackling multiple study assignments, many students often find it difficult or even impossible to go the distance. A four-hour block of time can seem daunting, like a mountain that's impossible to climb. 
The best way to bring that mountain of time down to size is to carve it up- in other words, separate it into achievable chunks.
A student could plan on focusing on different subjects for allotted periods of time, allowing for small breaks to further break up the evening. He/she could also start on one area of a subject and then return to another later. For example:
7-745 : Math (Algebra & Trigonometry)
745-8 : 15 min break  (snack, quick phone call)
8-9 : English (Essay writing assignment)
9-930 : Study an elective (art project)
930-945 : 15 min break (music, fresh air)
945-1030 : Math (Geometry)
1030-11 : Science (Chemistry)
Creating this kind of breakdown improves productivity and efficiency and sets kids up well for ventures later in life. The longest journey is comprised of small steps.

Coach Profile

  Meet Sophia Sperling,
  Coach Profile of The Month
Growing up in a Russian-speaking household was always exciting for the focus of this month's coach profile, Sophia Sperling. Tutoring comes naturally for Sophia; having had the opportunity to learn English from scratch as a child in elementary school, she began improving her grandparents' grammar and monitoring her younger siblings' assignments from an early age.
Sophia began professional tutoring while in her teens and, having obtained a degree in biology
from California State University, Northridge, continues to enjoy motivating students to look past their limits. When she is not learning with her students, she enjoys 
working in a physical therapy office and volunteering in her spare time. Sophia believes that the most effective study happens when a student is truly interested in the subject they're working on. Always looking to awaken her students to the excitement of learning, her main goal is changing "I have to" into "I want to."

We consider it a privilege and an honor to support students and their families throughout the Los Angeles area.  Please call us at any time; we welcome your thoughts and input.  We are available at 310-823-4398.

Jamie Altshule
Academic Success, Inc.