Law helps teachers focus on students with Dyslexia - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Law helps teachers focus on students with Dyslexia

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special education tutor Whitney McCormick shows WFSB the Orton-Gillingham System. (WFSB) special education tutor Whitney McCormick shows WFSB the Orton-Gillingham System. (WFSB)

When the school year gets underway in just a few weeks, many teachers will be working just as hard as their students to learn more about Dyslexia.

A law was enacted in January and part of the law was triggered just last month. It requires training for teachers to help them work with students who struggle.

Dyslexia makes it tough for those with it to accurately recognize and pronounce words.

Perhaps the most well-known person in the state with Dyslexia is Gov. Dannel Malloy. He and other lawmakers pushed to get teachers trained to help students work through it.

“When I pronounce the word, it’s confusing me in my head,” Hartford resident Jani Perry, who has dyslexia, said.

Perry said school has been a struggle at times.

“It was hard. I was scared. People used to yell at me and say ‘she's dumb’ and stuff like that,” Perry said.

Her special education tutor Whitney McCormick has been helping her learn to read using the Orton-Gillingham System. They sound out letters, play games and teach students how to master skills they’ve been taught, but never fully grasped. 

“It help me put it together so it sound(s) like--one word not two words,” Perry said.

This fall, 30 teachers from districts outside of Hartford will converge in the capital city to learn the Orton-Gillingham System approach.

Sandy Donah said she's the one who taught McCormick and will soon teach other educators. She said the first step is explaining why dyslexia makes reading hard for those with it.

"Their brain is wired differently and they have trouble making those sounds transpose into letters when they are trying to read," she said.

Through a rigorous, year-long-graduate level course, the 30 teachers will bring that knowledge into their classrooms to work with students, who are dyslexic and others who have trouble reading.

"It'll help me a lot because I'm not going to be scared to be called by a teacher to read a sentence, read a math problem," Perry said.

Donah's course begins in September and includes a 45-hour seminar and 100 hours of training with students.

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