Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement


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.

Tutor Highlight: Julie Rorabacher, Reading and Language Arts Centers
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IMG_20160218_105735 (3)When high school English teacher Julie Rorabacher had triplets, she decided she needed a more flexible career path. Tutoring children seemed like a perfect fit! Little did she know that in the not so distant future, one of her children would in fact need the very help she had learned to prescribe. Read our full interview with Julie below: *********** Julie, thank you so much for sitting down with me today! To start, tell me a little bit about your background.  I taught high school English for 7 years. I have triplets, 2 boys and a girl. I wanted to stay in the education field, so that’s how I found the Reading and Language Arts Centers (RLAC). I started tutoring with them about 5 years ago, and I didn’t realize at the time that one of my sons was going to end up struggling with reading. So, it really was a blessing in disguise because I can apply what I’ve learned here with my own son. I’ve seen first-hand how students learn differently through my 3 kids. My daughter is reading above grade level, my other son is reading at grade level, and then my 3rd son has a learning disability in reading and writing. Tell me a little bit about the methodology you use?   I was trained by RLAC in their Phonics First program, which is an OG (Orton-Gillingham) based program. So, you know it works. The multisensory part really sticks with the students. Give me an example of how this teaching has helped. I had one young man who tutored with us for almost 3 years – very bright boy, but struggled so much with reading. His parents were very committed to the program. He would tutor 3x per week. He recently exited the program, and his mom says it really changed his life – it made a huge difference. He’s actually reading ABOVE grade level now and doesn’t have that daily struggle anymore that he used to! How do audiobooks fit in?  My own son learns really well through audio, so it really helps to take away that struggle of breaking down the words when reading. So, I think audiobooks are great because even though their reading skills may not be great, they usually do have the comprehension to listen to the story and answer all of the questions. Do you have tips for other tutors?  It seems like 3rd grade is where the self-esteem issues really come up. I’ve had students say to me “I feel stupid. I’m just not as smart as everyone else.”
As tutors, we’re not just their coaches, we’re also their cheerleaders!
They come to us after school, many times tired and maybe having a hard day. I think just taking a minute or two to be a sounding board before diving right in really makes a big difference. If they feel like they have someone listening - that part just really connects with students who struggle. Make sure to be open and honest about everything.   FullSizeRenderAbout our Tutor: Julie Rorabacher, M.A., is a certified Phonics First Specialist with Reading & Language Arts Centers (RLAC).  Phonics First is a multisensory reading program, using an accredited Orton-Gillingham approach.  RLAC trains teachers across the country and provides education consulting.  To learn more, visit www.RLAC.com.    

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