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Welcome to the Thrively Blog!

Welcome to the Thrively blog, we are glad you stopped by! Thrively is a personalized learning platform to help parents and teachers guide K-12 students on a journey to develop their strengths, interests, and aspirations.

The content in this blog will vary, but the goal will be the same: to better understand personalized learning, including best practices, how classrooms are using Thrively, and why self-aware students are the key to a brighter future.

If you haven’t taken our Strength Assessment yet, set aside 30 minutes and try it out – either in the classroom or at home. Your students or child will immediately be given their top 5 strengths and can then start on a roadmap to personalizing his or her learning journey through courses and activities tailored to their strengths!

It’s time to Thrive. Let’s start this new learning journey today.

P.S. Looking for other ways to connect? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

All Kids Need a Spark!

When Peter Benson talks about how every kid has a “Spark” and that we, as society simply aren’t naturally inclined to discover or ignite those Sparks, it both saddens me and makes me more determined than ever to be a part of positive change.

The scale of the challenge is overwhelming – there are 2.2 billion children under 18 in the world today – but the potential to start small and make a real difference quickly is equally inspiring.  Take the time to watch this video, and you’ll see what I mean.

Try setting a goal of finding the underlying Spark in five children you know. When you do, please come back and share the most interesting ones in this blog’s comment thread. It doesn’t have to be long. It would be interesting to see a range of the “Sparks” that are secretly driving children all over the country!

Getting into a great college: Dispelling the myths

The rumor mill: It’s the ever-spinning wheel of deception that gains momentum as fast as it’s fueled.  And in the field of college admissions, despite expert interjection, it is the one to which students and families still tend to cling, no matter how much more difficult and stressful it makes their lives. Yet when they are armed with the facts, stress around the college admission process starts to crumble, and sighs of relief become audible.

So, what are some of the myths, and what are the facts that dispel them?

I need to participate in lots of different activities to get into college. 

While participation (and more important responsibility and leadership) in activities is indeed essential in the college admissions process, participation in lots of different activities isn’t necessarily what students want to be shooting for.  Colleges want to see the development of a passion and long-term dedication to that passion or a couple of passions. Your time is very valuable and you need to use it wisely. Devote it to things that you love to do and don’t waste time on those activities that don’t reflect your interests.  Indeed, overcommitting results in spreading yourself too thin with no deep commitment to any one activity, and that leads to stress and lack of meaning.  Find the one or two things that you enjoy, and dive in wholeheartedly!

Playing sports will help me get into college. 

While this can be true for a select, small (very small) number of students who are stellar, standout athletes, for most it simply is not.  Families should know that athletic scholarships are extremely difficult to obtain.  Even if students are not planning on receiving a scholarship, they should consider the incredible time commitment involved with playing a college sport.  For many students who are playing a high school sport just because they think it will “look good” on their resume, time might be better spent participating in another activity or focusing on academics.  Sports are not the only extracurricular activity, and practices and games take up a huge chunk of precious high school time, and an even larger chunk of college time.

I won’t be accepted to college if I admit my failures in my applications.

Not true!  While it is understandable that students shy away from highlighting their errors when competing for a coveted spot in the incoming class, it is a fact that colleges want to see that students are risk-takers, demonstrate curiosity, and learn from their mistakes.  They truly want to see how students have grown, what their self-reflection has revealed about that growth, and how they will apply that to the future.  In fact, one entire personal statement prompt on the Common Application is devoted entirely to identifying failure and illustrating the lesson, yet inevitably my students look at me blank-faced when they come across that particular prompt.

Be bold; take chances and learn from experience.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what Duke University has to say: “We like students who make intelligent and interesting mistakes, students who understand that only in risking failure do we become stronger, better and smarter.”


Jenn-Curtis-headshot-color-150x150Jenn Curtis, MSW is the owner and co-founder of FutureWise Consulting, a college counseling, test prep, and academic tutoring business in Orange County, California. As an educational consultant, she works alongside high school students and their families to prepare them for the college admissions process. Jenn also developed and teaches a college and career readiness program for first-generation students. She is the editorial assistant for an academic journal, has edited several books, and works with graduate and doctoral students in developing effective writing skills. With a background in mental health, Jenn’s passion lies in empowering students to become self-advocates, to uncover their strengths, and to find the motivation to reach their potential.


5 Ways to Spot a Great Educator

First off, what defines an educator?

An educator doesn’t necessarily mean a school teacher, although it can. In fact, many of the people who educate us have nothing to do with what goes on in a classroom. Parents, grandparents, older siblings, religious leaders, peers, business people, and coaches, just to name a few, are primary educators in the lives of students. Learning isn’t something that comes from a book, but rather something that comes from the vibrant experiences that we have in life. At Thrively we know that educators are instrumental in shaping a student’s success and building his/her character, so here are 5 ways to spot a great educator!

Taking decisions for the future

1. Have active intellectual lives outside the classroom

A great educator believes in continuing to learn themselves, even as adults. And while these people don’t necessarily have high SAT scores or perfect GPAs in college, they do continue to improve their own learning. Powerful educators are passionate about intellectuals pursuits – rather that be art, poetry, science, math, whatever their interests are.

2. Are fun!

Education isn’t meant to be dry – not a good education anyway. Children, and adults for that matter, connect best with learning that’s exciting and enriching– which is guaranteed when using Thrively!

3. Appreciate your child’s differences

Your child is a unique individual. Great educators don’t see success as one thing, they don’t believe in the cookie-cutter mold of happiness or accomplishment. These individuals encourage children to explore their interests, whatever those may be.

4. Create opportunities for learning

Learning doesn’t always take place at a desk, though it certainly can. Educators who are positive forces in the life of your child find ways to incorporate learning into everyday life. Whether that’s in the grocery store, at a baseball game, or walking through the neighborhood – learning can happen everywhere, because life isn’t limited.

5. Believe intelligence is achievable

This one is truly important. Good educators believe that intelligence is not genetic. They believe that children can learn to be intelligent through exposure to academic content and critical thinking skills. And they believe that your child is capable of making leaps in intelligence through positive support.

Look around for the great educators in the life of your child. Seek out those individuals who possess these qualities, and encourage them to share their skills with your child!

US News Evaluates Strength-Based Learning

The below story was written by Gail Cornwall and produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. 

Strength-based learning is gaining traction in education systems all across the US as more districts realize the importance of personalized learning. This form of education focuses on what the individual child does well, in contrast to focusing on weaknesses. Focusing on their weaknesses can often harm a child’s self-image, making them discouraged and disengaged. Thrively supports strengths-based learning because we believe that by focusing on a child’s strengths and creating content specific to these strengths, keeps them more engaged. After taking the Thrively Strength Assessment, US News reports that elementary students in the Galt school district were able to identify his/her top strengths and experience the benefits of strength-based learning every day. According to US News,

“Students at all five of Galt’s public elementary schools take an online quiz known as a “strengths assessment” in which their sense of how much they relate to certain statements – such as, “For me, everything has to be planned” – helps identify their strengths.”

But Karen Schauer, the superintendent of Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (who lists her top strengths in her email signature) says that in her nearly 40 years as an educator, “It’s just one of the most powerful things I’ve ever been a part of.”

Most teachers who try the approach start by giving a quiz. The one Galt’s fourth-graders take comes from the CliftonStrengths Youth Explorer, a framework developed and sold by Gallup, the 82-year-old management consulting company best known for its public opinion polling. Waters uses a different list of strengths, called Values in Action, when working with educators in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. Others use strength systems designed by the British Centre of Applied Positive Psychology or by Thrively, a California-based startup.

While the number of schools using the method isn’t tallied anywhere, the number of tests taken could serve as a loose proxy for interest in it. Jon Burt, who heads Gallup’s K-12 education consulting arm, says that each year more than 1 million students in the U.S. take one of that company’s quizzes. Jillian Coppley Darwish, president of Mayerson Academy, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that advises educators, says that her organization has introduced the Values in Action framework to nearly 70 schools in the U.S., and Thrively’s president, Alex Cory, says that about 44,000 teachers across the 50 states have signed up for Thrively accounts.


We love to see personalized learning and strengths-based education expanding across the nation every day. Thrively aims to lead this pursuit in transforming the education community and the way children learn.  By focusing on their strengths, children and students can find their true passions and embark on their pathway to personal development and impact. Essentially, we want to see your children or students succeed! So why not give strengths-based learning a try? Have your students or children take our Strength Assessment today and unlock their full potential.

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The Weight of Your Words

Today is National Compliment Day, an unofficial (but wonderful) holiday- celebrated by expressing simple praise, sharing congratulations, and encouraging others! Created in 1998 by two women from New Hampshire, today is intended for commending others’ success, brightening someone else’s day with kindness and maybe even lifting others up in spite of their setbacks. Both giving and receiving compliments come with a variety of health benefits like decreased stress and formation of stronger long-term relationships—so why not celebrate those around you! At Thrively, we believe that kindness is something that all students and children should strive for in their day-to-day lives as they develop into young adults and soon-to-be professionals.

adjusted girls

Thrively understands that kindness is crucial to our goal of developing the whole child, where emotional maturity meets intellectual proficiency. In honoring this goal, we have created courses to teach children and students of all ages about the weight of their words.

Our lesson “It’s Cool to be Kind” is geared specifically towards students ages 8-10, and it teaches the importance of kindness and empathy. This lesson builds on the values that every parent and educator aims to instill in a fun and engaging way. Using videos, images, and personal reflection, students are guided through what it means to be kind and how this decision can be consciously made every day. “It’s Cool to be Kind” shows the positive effects that kindness can have on someone’s day, and, most importantly, emphasizes kindness as a choice.


We also know that kindness can be contagious, and we want to illustrate that idea to Thrively children and students. For students ages 9-14, our lesson “Chain Reaction” explicitly demonstrates how one small act can cause another; reaching out to another person with an act of kindness, such as a compliment, can result in their complimenting someone else and creating a chain reaction of spreading kindness. The impact of a chain reaction is an especially important lesson today, as we remember to be kind and uplifting to those around us!

Kindness has profound effects on someone’s mood, their well-being, and the course of their day. Whether it be by giving a compliment or simply being kind to those around you, use today as a reminder to stay positive and treat others how you want to be treated.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

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