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Trauma-Informed Teaching Enhances K-8 Learning

Categories: dyslexia, Early Literacy, Education & Teaching, Learning Disabilities, Reading Strategies for K-12, Student Centric Learning, Teacher Best Practices, The Digital Age, Whole Child Literacy

Lisa Kendall Brown headshot

In Lisa Kendall-Brown’s K-8 classrooms at Kiowa USD #433, Mullinville, Kansas, children are learning, laughing, and loving school -- even though their ability to read is far from grade level. Something is different about Ms. Brown. She is a reading and math intervention specialist, licensed in teaching alphabetic phonics, and trained in trauma-informed teaching. Her deep perspective from a whole child literacy standpoint, and her teaching expertise redefines how she approaches learning in her classroom. 

First, she creates a safe and welcoming environment for students devoting one-on-one time to learn about their lives at home. Then, she applies proven teaching practices to support them as learners. The children she works with have learning disabilities, including dyslexia, and those with adverse childhood experiences or ACE’s. For each child, she is determined to find the right path -- even if it is nontraditional that includes both academics and social and emotional learning. For her approach to “whole child literacy,” and trauma-informed teaching, Ms. Brown is a 2022 recipient of Learning Ally’s Winslow Coyne Reitnouer Excellence in Education Award; an award that recognizes exemplary educators.

Advancing the District’s Literacy Mission

To advance her district’s commitment to literacy, a forward-thinking superintendent hired Ms. Brown four years ago to provide students who were reading below grade-level intensive intervention and explicit skill instruction. She participates on the Student Improvement Team and teaches summer school. Under her guidance, students with learning differences have improved their knowledge and learning confidence. 

Her colleagues have benefitted from her teaching acumen, and specialty in teaching Alphabetic Phonics, and in programs such as The Sonday System, CAPIT, Pathways to Reading, and the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution. She has introduced new research-based approaches to her school and teachers. She regularly uses data collection and observation to identify student achievement gaps. She works with her principal to find effective solutions for students who have not made adequate yearly progress. Ms. Brown's dedication to raise education equity for students who are marginalized goes above and beyond expectations so that their basic needs are met. 

Audiobooks Spark Reading Engagement

In her daily instruction, Ms. Brown relies on Learning Ally audiobooks to provide equitable access to required curriculum and reading assignments. She believes that engaging ebooks with human narration will spark a child’s interests and keep them moving forward in their reading skills. “Teaching is all about building a child’s confidence,” she says. “Resistant readers who are not able to comprehend print because their brains work overtime to decode words, cannot easily focus on absorbing information. With human-read audiobooks, they enjoy the story, learn new vocabulary words, build their critical thinking skills, and improve fluency to read grade-level books. They feel good."

Ms. Brown has seen significant changes in her students’ ability to read. A student attending summer school with dyslexia uses Learning Ally audiobooks to read. Her mother was thrilled and said, “She is now reading for fun. Hearing text read aloud and seeing it highlighted enabled her to break through her learning disability to improve her comprehension.” 

Another student, an English Language Learner with reading challenges, far exceeded academic expectations. His reading level soared. He read English at home. He loves to read books in a series and finds lots of interesting titles in the Learning Ally library. Ms. Brown adds, "He is more confident about himself as a learner, and he is reading at a 90th percentile."

Ms. Brown, like many educators, are called to the teaching profession to truly help children who are struggling and frustrated. She said, "Someone once told me that teachers save lives. I believe that!” We believe it too! 

On behalf of the Learning Ally organization, we congratulate Lisa Kendall Brown for her exemplary service to improve literacy for children, especially those experiencing challenges well beyond the school day.