If you are like us and are itching to know who you are reading about and know how they ended up working together, then here you go! Here is ‘Our Story’.
We first met in 2003 and quickly became friends. We were both teachers at a reading school in Co Dublin, Ireland, a school for children who have dyslexia. We had much in common-we both loved traveling, having a laugh, and spending time with our families. We both had U.S connections-one of us hailing from Chicago, and one of us having lived in NYC. We even shared the same name,
We had a shared commitment and passion for getting children reading which was clear all those years ago and remains so today. We would spend many late nights and weekends working together on finding the most effective approach to teach our students with dyslexia how to read.
We tried and tested numerous reading programmes, approaches and systems from Ireland, Australia, the UK and USA in the classroom. We were determined to find a solution!
After all our research and trial and testing, we had finally figured it out! It was actually quite simple. We knew our students learn differently and need to be taught differently. We needed to find a comprehensive programme that followed the Orton Gillingham approach and was specifically designed to teach struggling readers and students with dyslexia HOW TO READ. A programme that starts at learning/ relearning sounds, no matter what stage the learner is at and upon mastery, systematically builds up. The programmes available did not accomplish this. They addressed parts but not the whole.
We knew that once our students mastered the foundations of how to read, they would be able to practise and read accurately; comprehend and read for fluency.
In the roles of acting principal and teachers, our eyes were opened up to the lack of support for students with dyslexia outside our special reading school. If a child did not qualify for a place in the school, the parents were left with no other reading intervention options, in or out of school. Teachers were not trained in how to specifically teach students with dyslexia to read and programmes did not meet struggling readers and individuals with dyslexia’s needs.
We knew we had to create a comprehensive reading programme that followed the Orton Gillingham approach and use our expertise to teach students with dyslexia and struggling readers how to read. We were so excited when The Reading Academy officially opened its doors in September 2015! We will never forget the queue of parents and children on our first Open Day.
Since we started our first classes, more than 240 children have benefitted from our programme. We have trained more than 10 teachers and have gone from having 2 to 4 successful reading centres in Monkstown, Co Dublin, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Castleisland, Co Kerry and Belmullet, Co Mayo to offering individual and group classes, training, webinars, and tutorials online.
We are looking forward to sharing the next chapter of Our Story with you, so make sure to watch this space!
Sarah & Sarah