FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Fontenot
Phone: (409) 766-5146
GALVESTON, Texas – Nov. 7, 2022 – It may not be a well-known fact that dyslexia can affect up to 20 percent of a student population. It can, and that presents a significant number of students who struggle with dyslexia-related challenges, such as learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, to name a few.
Galveston Independent School District is doing a lot to combat the challenges presented by dyslexia, with continuing efforts funded by a multi-year 1.7 million dollar Galveston Community Dyslexia Initiative Grant awarded by the Moody Foundation beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.
The grant allows GISD, as well as the Galveston community as a whole, to assist dyslexic students in a number of ways, including providing training to instructors in scientifically-based models of instruction related to reading acquisition and dyslexia intervention in order to promote a sound foundation of literacy for all children at GISD’s elementary and middle school campuses.
“The Moody Foundation’s educational initiative, Generation Moody – From Cradle to Career, supports evidence-based programs and professional development that raises student achievement through grants,” Angela Blair said, Generation Moody Education Director for the Moody Foundation.
“Since research has demonstrated the importance of phonological awareness, letter recognition, and oral language in the acquisition of reading and spelling skills, the Neuhaus professional development and materials fulfill this need. Teachers can use the Neuhaus activities throughout each day in their classrooms. Repetitive exposures to these kinds of activities raise students’ awareness of words and sounds and develop the crucial skills that lead to their reading success.”
During the 2021-2022 school year, 22 educators participated in the basic training program and seven took part in the dyslexia preparation program.
GISD currently has 100 teachers in the fall cohort of basic classes and anticipates 50 more in the spring cohort.
“With a systematic, science-based curriculum, most students can get the tools they need to be successful readers. Our specialists have been trained in Basic Language Skills Curriculum through Neuhaus Education Center, and continue to take classes to meet their certification requirements,” GISD Lead Dyslexia Specialist and Community Initiative Grant Coordinator Sondra Harrington said.
“We look forward to expanding these teacher training opportunities in the coming years to help assure that Galveston has the most highly certified teachers working to identify and provide instruction to meet the needs of all students."
Additionally, GISD is thrilled to report that one of its staff members, Mary Brown, now holds the distinguished title of being a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) from the Academy of Language Therapy Association (ALTA.) She successfully completed the in-depth Neuhaus Education Center (NEC) Dyslexia Preparation Program.
Another grant initiative includes raising dyslexia awareness on campuses throughout the district and hosting three community based-events or activities which promote a greater understanding of dyslexia-related issues.
"The opportunity to help solve the challenges of dyslexia education across Galveston is one that is both exciting and extremely fulfilling,” Harrington added. “The foresight of GISD Director of Special Education Jessica Edwards, and Angela Blair with the Moody Education Foundation, are commendable, as they projected the need for such resources for Galveston. We are fortunate to have an organization, such as the Moody Foundation, that highly values education."
While the grant has also assisted by allowing GISD to identify students in need of dyslexia prevention, the ultimate goal of these efforts is to assist all students in the district with hopes of this initiative reaching generations of learners to come.
“We believe that this dyslexia grant will give teachers additional skills to use in their daily teaching with any student, not just dyslexia students,” Blair added.
“Hopefully, all students’ reading skills will increase starting early in their school years so that they will be reading on or above grade level.”
For more information about GISD’s dyslexia program efforts, visit https://bit.ly/3T2oOpM.