A senior at Dumont high school in Dumont NJ has just been accepted into the honors program at New Jersey Institute of Technology. In fact, Dan has also been accepted at 5 other colleges of his choice. Now he has a wonderful choice to make.
Dan was the first classified student in his district to take an Advanced Placement course. (biochemistry). In his entrance essay, Dan noted that he is not done with “firsts” – he looks forward to a future of discovering new ideas and exceeding expectations
Dan is dyslexic. He is also extremely bright. “Officially, there is no classification for dyslexic children in New Jersey”, says his mother. “The classifications for learning disabilities in New Jersey are very broad. “ Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Dan was entitled to receive special educational services for attention deficit disorder. However, teaching dyslexics to read via proven educational methods is not specifically mandated. Thus, his mom became not only a single mother raising Dan and his sister alone, but an advocate for her gifted dyslexic child. Her advocacy and the knowledge she gained about special needs, educating gifted and learning disabled children, and problems of local districts meeting the challenges posed by the IDEA mandates eventually led her to be elected to the school board.
Dan received free reading instruction via the Orton-Gillingham method from one of the Masonic Learning Centers for Children. Twice a week, he was tutored one-on-one after school in the center in nearby Tenafly, NJ. Currently the Scottish Rite Masons operate 53 learning centers in 15 states, teaching dyslexic children to read via this multi sensory method. Additionally, continuing education credits at local colleges and universities are offered for teachers who become certified Children’s Learning Center tutors. In this way, special education teachers can become skilled in the Orton Gillingham method, and bring that knowledge to their school districts.
“Every dyslexic child needs a parent to be a strong advocate”, says Dan’s mom, who asked that her name not be used in this article. Many academically gifted dyslexic students struggle in special education programs which are suited to a broad spectrum of disorders but do not specifically remediate dyslexia. Dan’s mom knew that her son needed to learn to read – not to be treated like a problem learner with low expectations. Her advocacy resulted in greater awareness among Dan’s teachers in appropriate methods of teaching and testing him, and a heightened expectation of his abilities. Her efforts facilitated a sense of teamwork among the teachers and specialists who taught her son. Best of all, Dan has been continually encouraged to achieve his true potential.
For further information about the Masonic Learning Centers for Children, visit their website at http://www.childrenslearningcenters.org .