Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Atlanta Orton Gillingham Reading Intervention.... I Did What???

I told this story not too long ago and sometimes I have to remind myself that what I do not have in one area, I might have to make up for in (connections/brains/money from Shark Tank) luck.

Many, many years ago in a village called Sandy Springs lived a nice Atlanta family who had two children. One child was a 3rd grader who needed Foreign Language lessons and the other child, let's just say he didn't have any problems that I knew of back then.

Every week I would visit the 3rd grader and work with her in her Foreign Language class. We worked so unbelievably hard that she started teaching the children around her about what she learned with me. Each time I saw her it led into a routined ferris wheel of Foreign Language, Math, Reading, and writing lessons - and anything else that came along. It was a nice few months until suddenly...

Her younger brother needed to leave his "Special School". His mother and father were in a downward spiral trying to find the proper school placement for him as he had "Special Problems". When I would walk into their home, he would be placed away from me because they feared that I did not have the proper training to talk to him. Every week I would see him and they made me feel as if he needed to be "socially quarantined" because of his "Special Problems". Later I realized what these "Special Problems" were - and that is where the story begins.

Every time I meet a young client who has to work on "transitional learning skills", I am reminded of this memory. I worked with this family for several months and when they had searched through all of Atlanta to find someone to help their child learn the skill of reading, they called me for help.

As an educator, it is our calling to help educate children, but I think that sometimes we forget that it is the parents that need the help the most. When this family called me, they felt that I could not only be trusted to learn what I needed to learn to help their child - but would ensure that I would continue to respond to the ever changing needs of both of their children. I spent the first part of the year preparing for the "Art of Orton Gillingham" and the summer was spent sharing this newly acquired skill set with the "little man". There were weeks where I met them at their house here in Atlanta and weeks where I was with them at their beach vacation home in Florida.  There was not one day that I did not enjoy working with them, or any of my other clients.

I love what I do and I have a tinge of excitement every time I meet anyone who asks me to help their child,  (especially those that give me the privilege of teaching them to read). Maybe parents do not realize this, but when I meet  a child for the first time, I look at them and see their smiling faces in one/two/three months when they start prancing in my office showing off letters, words, or paragraphs that they can read out loud. These children become transformed from a child who looks down or away when they read to one that rips the book from your hand and shows you they can do it (only a little bit more.. aggressively). And magically, the tears that was once found drying on the cheeks of a parent have been replaced with a smile from ear to ear.

Orton-Gillingham is not a curriculum; it's a methodology and way of life in the reading world that some people are unfamiliar with, and others celebrate. I'm proud of the fact that this methodology has been faithful in promising the results that I've always expected but in turn, I'm proud of the fact that it's taught me more than just reading... It's taught me how to problem solve!

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