The Learning Center at The Lexington School is ten years old this year, and they are celebrating BIG. The video About Us by Us is part of a larger “Learning Differences Awareness Week” which included student-led assemblies, student talent (superpower) showcases, a birthday bash reception, and a nationally-acclaimed TED TALK speaker and dyslexia advocate from NoticeAbility.org, Dean Bragonier.
Dean spent time with students and teachers on Friday, November 15, and was the featured speaker of The Learning Center’s Saturday Series, on Saturday, November 16 from 8:30 A.M. until 12:15 P.M. His presentation and subsequent break-out sessions were free and open to the public, counting towards professional development certification credits for teachers.
What is dyslexia and why does it matter? The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” Dyslexia affects 15-20% of our national population.
As cited by Made for Dyslexia, a global charity led by successful dyslexics like Richard Branson, “Schools aren’t designed for dyslexic thinking, most teachers aren’t trained in dyslexia, meaning most dyslexic kids are unidentified and unsupported.” Unaddressed, dyslexia can be debilitating and result in a negative sense of self-worth. Studies have shown that roughly 80% of the incarcerated in our country are functionally illiterate and up 48% are dyslexic. While language-based learning differences can lead to an insidious sense of failure, there are curricula and programs that provide a successful framework for students with dyslexia. Early intervention makes a huge difference.
Just ask students in The Learning Center at The Lexington School and they will tell you in their own words who they are and how dyslexia defines their resilience, their strengths, their superpowers. The answers they give in their own words in the video are anecdotal, powerful and reason to celebrate an educational program that propels students forward in their academics and self-confidence.
Ten years ago, The Learning Center, led by Brutus Clay, TLS alum, board member, and current parent, alongside a visionary board and passionate Director, Jane Childers, opened its cubicles in the basement of the school to 16 students with dyslexia. Ten years later, this fall, The Learning Center opened with 65 students in a brand-new, state-of-the-art Academic Center, physically connecting and integrating TLC and the traditional Lexington School program. While the Learning Center’s core multi-sensory curriculum in math, language arts, social studies, and science is based in pods with a 4 to 1 student to teacher ratio, TLC students are integrated in every other way with their grade-level peers.
Director Jane Childers’s dream has come true and just in the nick of time. Jane is retiring at the end of the school year. “From the start,” Jane explains, “the program has fulfilled the academic individual needs of these students but now it fully embraces the social/emotional needs as well. Getting to watch these kiddos learn strategies for their individual success while growing in confidence side-by-side with their traditionally-taught peers is simply amazing. I just wish there were more programs in our country like it.”
With free outreach like Saturday Series for professional educators and parents and Free Early Reading Screenings for families seeking consultation on the next steps for their struggling student, The Learning Center is doing its best to help.
This week the students and teachers of The Learning Center are teaching together and raising awareness. The goal is to get people thinking differently about dyslexia and to motivate those with the need to seek help sooner than later. The earlier the better for children and for our society as a whole.