What Lead me to What I Do?
I began my teaching career as most teachers do, feeling that I could really make a difference in the lives of my students who struggled with learning. After all, I had my B.A. in Special Education and a Master, Degree as well and felt confident in my teaching abilities. The staff and administration where I taught had even honored me with the prestigious “Teacher of the Year” award for my accomplishments with my students.
I was convinced in the 12 years that I taught; there was not one student that I could not reach. But, all that changed one day when a twelfth grader confronted me with a question that essentially made me question if I was really as good a teacher as I thought. He wondered why no one had been able to teach him to read and asked what I would do to change that before he graduated. I assured him that I would help him and tried everything I had learned but in the end nothing I did made him a proficient reader.
I recognized then that I was part of the system that failed him. What a crime that such an articulate, bright young man was cheated out of something that we in the educational owed him. After all of the education I had completed and thousands of dollars I had spent to obtain it, I felt like a complete failure. I was angry with the system for not preparing me and teaching me what I needed to know especial since 80% of the learning disabled students I would be teaching struggled with reading.
My conscience would not allow me to go on and continue to teach as I had until I found a real solution. I learned about Orton-Gillingham, multisensory instruction, language structure and brain research devouring class after class. I knew this was the piece that was missing from my teacher training and to this day I am baffled to find out when speaking to teachers across the country that not much has changed. I wanted to share all of this newly acquired information with my teaching colleagues and administration but felt like I was speaking a different language that no one quite understood. Feeling frustrated, I decided to leave the public education system and work with kids privately because I knew I had what it took to make a real difference for kids that learned differently. Since I began this journey there has not been one student I have not been able to teach to read. The solution seems pretty simple to me…..teacher training needs to change so that teachers are equipped with the right tools to make kids readers. We owe them nothing less than that.