Dyslexic 12th grade student, Conference Organizer, Advocate
Like many dyslexic children, Will’s journey with dyslexia has included a delay in speech as a preschooler, trouble with spelling and decoding, pronunciation of multi-syllabic words, central auditory processing and working memory issues. Also like many dyslexics, he has incredible strengths, one of which is being able to see the “big picture” which helped him during the organization of this conference. He is persistent, motivated, and community oriented.
Will attended Rahway Public Schools through the middle school years and then entered Union Catholic for high school. Over those years he has been taught by many dedicated teachers who have helped him become the young man he is today. He credits his academic success to the Orton-Gillingham instruction he received at the Children’s Dyslexia Center in Scotch Plains.
Will plans to study special education and history in college and hopes to become a special education teacher when he graduates.
Will’s mom, Special Education paraprofessional
Dana, and the rest of Will’s family, (his dad, Bill, and his older sister, Emily) have supported Will every step of the way on his journey with dyslexia. As parents, Bill and Dana feel that the two most important things they did to help Will be successful were 1) to first educate themselves about dyslexia so that they could be the best advocates for him as possible and 2) to focus on his self-esteem by stressing his strengths while he worked on his challenges.
Dana has worked as a special education para-professional for the Rahway Public Schools in the elementary grades for the past 11 years. She feels privileged to work everyday with special needs children in the general education classroom.
Teacher and Orton-Gillingham specialist
Amy is a special education teacher at Branchburg Township Schools. She is currently the Orton-Gillingham teacher for the elementary grades but has been teaching in the public schools for 15 years. Amy has her Dyslexia Specialist Certificate as well as her Orton-Gillingham Therapy Certificate. She is an adjunct professor for Fairleigh Dickinson University and a practicum instructor for the Masonic Children’s Learning Center in Hasbrouck Heights. She serves on the board for the NJIDA and has presented at their conferences.
Adult Dyslexic, Parent and Vice President of Outreach and Program Development-Learning Ally
Chris is a longtime advocate for students with dyslexia. She joined Learning Ally, in 1999 as the Director of Educational Outreach for New Jersey. In this role, she worked with community leaders, parents and educators to expand Learning Ally’s support and services for students with disabilities. Currently Chris focuses on continuing this work but on a larger scale, ensuring students with print disabilities, their families and educators have access to the resources they need to support students’ academic and personal success.
Chris’ passion for spreading the word about dyslexia is rooted in her personal experience. Chris was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult shortly after her daughter was identified. Her experience as a parent of a child with dyslexia and the struggles dealing with school on behalf of her child, and her own journey as an un-accommodated student with dyslexia throughout her educational and professional life shapes her perspective and fuels her passion.
Parent and Parent Advocate
Andy is a parent advocate that has been involved with multiple stakeholders (Learning Ally, NCLD and DDNJ) who serve children and their families with dyslexia and learning disabilities.
Andy states, “We share our journey to bring awareness to others who are dealing with these very same issues. It is my hope to bring about systemic change that will allow children to succeed in school and life to reach their fullest potential. ”
9th grade dyslexic student at Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS
Justin was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade and attended the Children’s Dyslexia Center in Scotch Plains while he was in the third/fourth grade. As a result of his participation in the Orton Gillingham program at the Center, he jumped three grade levels in reading. Justin had the special privilege of having one of his teachers from the Dyslexia Center, Mrs. Ruggieri, as his Resource Room teacher in the fifth grade. The program at the Children’s Dyslexia Center along with the loving care of Mrs. Ruggieri gave Justin confidence and the decoding skills he needed to become a good reader.
In the seventh grade, Justin decided to do his Service Learning Project on dyslexia. So, he convinced three of his classmates to join him. His group created a brochure about dyslexia and gave two presentations, one to the teachers at the Center and the other to the students who attended. The project was a success and was mentioned in the Star Ledger as well as a local paper.
Justin uses books on tape, Dragon Speak and the iPad to help him keep up with his school assignments. His favorite subject is science and he loves creating and playing video games in his spare time.