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Reading instructor takes junket to learn new methods

Academy owner White plans monthlong session in Arizona

POSTED: May 27, 2011 11:02 p.m.

Ava White knows how to teach slow readers, and she wants to help Hall County's students on a large scale.

White, owner of Ava White Academy on Washington Street, is taking a monthlong trip to Arizona to learn how.

As a certified trainer of the Wilson Reading System, she teaches those who have difficulty reading and spelling words.

"This is a process that normally takes 12 to 15 months, but we're going to train seven teachers in one month how to work with kids who can't read," she said. "We do observations every morning as the teachers work with different kids and then hold seminars in the afternoons."

White, one of 12 people across the nation who are Wilson Reading System partners, hopes to learn the program's logistics in Tucson so she can bring it back to Georgia.

"I want to see how this program is put together for a summer, such as gathering the kids and transportation," she said. "Then I can see if this is something I can duplicate here."

A few years ago, a local elementary school principal approached her about holding a Wilson reading program in Hall County as a summer school for poor readers.

"I looked into it but didn't know enough," she said. "By being a part of the monthlong program this summer, I will see the logistics involved. It would be great to do this program here if possible."

White has taught the yearlong program in Georgia's school systems in Brunswick, Statesboro and Dalton, and she has traveled to Virginia several times to train teachers.

"You usually give a teacher an assignment, they get to a certain point, and then you see them again," she said. "This time, we're condensing that."

The Wilson program contains a 12-step curriculum that teaches phonemes and word structure. It was originally developed in the 1980s to help adults with dyslexia.

"Depending on how fast these students progress, you see great progress in comprehension and spelling, so this month program will be a very intense one-on-one program," she said. "Teachers will see the students in daily individual sessions, and I'll do live observation and tell the teachers what to try next."

The program will serve as a research ground for Nancy Mather, an associate professor of special education and school psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Mather is author of the Woodcock-Johnson test that measures intelligence, educational ability and learning disabilities.

"It'll be great to work with her after years of reading and using her research," White said. "She's going to take data from the students' pretest and intensive reading work to show the growth that stems from this program."

 



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