Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Teachers Trailblazing the Path to Help Struggling Readers
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You may have seen the news article "Why do you spell cat with 'c'?", but do you know the story behind the piece? It begins with a tug at the heartstrings, and it's one many teachers have felt. How do you help bright students who struggle so much to learn to read? JeanneIn the early 1990s, Jeanne Jeup was a 1st grade general education teacher. "One third of my classroom was getting pulled out for help in Reading Recovery," recalls Jeanne. "Back then, whole language was the big push in university teacher education programs. Orton-Gillingham, at that time, was considered a program used mostly for one-on-one instruction in a special education setting." She wanted to learn more about how to reach the struggling readers in her classroom. It was another teacher, a friend, who told her about how the Orton-Gillingham methodology was helping.  That's when she had a light bulb moment - kids need structured and explicit instruction in how to learn to read. This is not only good for kids who struggle, but all kids can learn this way.
"I realized this is exactly what every general educator needs and doesn't receive before graduating and teaching. So then it became my mission."
Jeup teamed up with her friend, Bronwyn Hain, Bronwyna special educator who worked with children who have dyslexia and SLD. Hain was also experienced in working with administrators in both the United States and abroad. Together, they set out to bring Orton-Gillingham based instruction to every classroom, not just special education, as both an intervention model and for all early elementary teachers. In 1995, the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education was born. At its core, IMSE is a team of instructors whom all are educators working to spread this program around the world. One of those instructors is Janice Kohler, a special education teacher with 20 years of experience, who joined the team as Director of Professional Development in 2013 after Janiceexperiencing success by using the program in her classroom. That's the beauty of IMSE - it's not people who have never stepped foot in a classroom. "This really sets us apart from others," says Kohler. "We know what works and what does not from first-hand experience."
And they've seen success. "Schools call us to say they have less students needing reading pull out help because they are getting the instruction in class. That's the goal. We want kids to discover the joy of reading before falling behind." In addition to the school program, IMSE has also built a network of tutors who help all ages.  
"Recently, a 75 year old woman called our office to tell us 'I finally can read!'"  
Now in 42 states and growing, the IMSE team is excited to be helping others, like themselves. "We are believers in this system because we've seen it work. We want to help other teachers do the same." IMSE is part of Learning Ally's tutor network. To find out more about IMSE, log onto www.Orton-Gillingham.com



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