OUR FOUNDER: CARA THORPE
Coach. Student. Teacher. Visionary. Mum. Cara Thorpe lives her life’s purpose daily. She has mastered her time and lives with intention, grace, and grit, while coaching others to do the same. Her personal and professional experiences equip her with the ability to meet students, parents, teachers, and leaders where they are and offer inspiration, along with space for insight, reflection and growth.
Cara discovered her passion for teaching as a teen-aged Swim Coach for the summer swim team of her childhood. She was inspired by her own youth coach, who was the team’s greatest cheerleader while also helping each swimmer improve their technique and endurance. “Learning Coach,” refers to this philosophy of drawing on a student’s strengths and interests to inspire confidence and growth.
Cara continues Performance Coaching for Yellow Parachute’s Learning Team and for other leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and teams in addition to a small roster of students. Her philosophy is when you align your vision, goals, and actions, you Become Unstoppable.
Thinking is one of Cara’s superpowers! When she was small, one of her favorite questions was, “What are the possibilities?” After High School, Cara sought a small undergraduate college with both strong academic and athletic programming in Division 3 Soccer, and found this combination at Grinnell College, in Iowa.
Grinnell’s liberal arts education encouraged her to seek knowledge and enjoy learning for learning’s sake, rather than simply to obtain a grade. Cara brings balancing athletics and rigorous academics to her work with Yellow Parachute Learning Coaches and college-bound students and their parents.
In addition, she’s continued to add to her collection of training and certifications along the way!
Cara followed her passion for teaching to the University of Minnesota’s top-ranked teaching program, then to the Edina school system. As she sought to support struggling students through the power of individual attention, relationship building, and student/teacher conferencing, she drew on those early lessons as a swim coach. She learned the power of patience, listening, constant innovation, and a focus on process rather than product. Even more importantly, Cara saw that each learner already has the capacity to be successful. It is the teacher’s job to call attention to and help the learner practice using their tools.
What are the possibilities? While Cara loved the classroom setting, she realized that her own unique strengths lay in individualized instruction, where she could devote 100% of her energy to innovating and advocating for the voice of each wildly brilliant and original child. In an effort to expand her own impact, Cara founded Yellow Parachute in 1999, recruiting the most talented educators and relationship-builders in the field to serve alongside her.
“Mum” is a reference to Cara’s Canadian roots. Though she grew up on the East Coast, Cara spent summers traveling to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where all four of her grandparents lived. The Midwestern Canadian Prairie has been the subject of some of her husband Reid Thorpe’s oil paintings!
Cara most demanding and most rewarding title is “Mum.” Cara understands the complexity and intensity of the parent/child relationship and the adage, “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.” Cara believes that relationship and connection build resilience and foster growth; she desires that not only her own kiddos but every individual would understand two things: “You are never alone,” and “You can do hard things.”