Daymond John, John Legend, and Others Shine a Light on Student Individuality

New Profit, a founding partner of Understood, launched a powerful initiative called Reimagine Learning on February 17 at The Standard, a New York City hotel. The goal of the initiative is to help schools and communities design learning environments that encourage the individuality and creativity of all students.

“It’s time to let everyone’s light shine”—the initiative’s motto—really struck a chord with me. I have , and . With my learning and thinking differences comes my own unique way of learning. And it was inspiring—and made me feel proud—to see the education and entertainment industries come together and celebrate this kind of uniqueness.

The event also made me proud to be a member of the Understood team. Dr. Ned Hallowell and Rachel Vitti, a member of Understood’s Parent Advisory Council, presented Understood as one of the premier resources that will help Reimagine Learning achieve its goals.

They expressed their passion for Understood with the audience. Dr. Hallowell said he’d been waiting for a resource like Understood for 30 years! And Rachel shared her relief that she finally has a resource she can rely on.

The event also spotlighted Max Ash, a 10-year-old entrepreneur with dyslexia. Max, who invented The Mug with a Hoop, impressed the audience with his invention (and growing sales).

One attendee in particular, entrepreneur, Shark Tank star and Understood Board of Advocates member Daymond John, made it clear that he’s a big fan of Max’s drive. He joked that one day Max would be his boss.

The event ended on a high note when Golden Globe–winning musician John Legend talked about his experience growing up and learning on a different path. It really resonated with me when he talked about how schools need to serve students with all types of strengths.

It was truly a magical night. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it—not only as an Understood team member but also as a successful young adult with learning and thinking differences. I’m looking forward to following the Reimagine Learning initiative and watching how their efforts lead to bright futures for all students.

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About the author

About the author

Jillian Levy is the web production manager and technology liaison for