Looking back at my life I never imagined I would be here, talking to you now. I can be pretty sure none of my teachers would have predicted this either. I hated school, and it felt like school hated me back. Lucky for me I went to high school in the 70’s when Home Ec was still a thing. I became a domestic goddess. I immersed myself in all things creative. It was only natural that I would go on to apparel design. As good as I was at that, it still was not my passion.
I became a mom to four wonderful boys, all with different strengths and weaknesses. The youngest struggled with reading. His teacher recommended Orton Gillingham tutoring and she directed me to a teacher training course that needed students. I signed him up. In two short weeks I saw a difference in his confidence. That was enough for me to know there was more to this and I needed to know everything I could. I had him tested: dyslexia and ADHD. More trips to the library, more question left unanswered. The school he was attending was hiring para-professionals so I made a career change. I was trained in the Sonday System. This was game-changing. I proudly strolled down the halls of the school pulling out my little groups. I loved it. Still, it wasn’t enough. I went on to get a job at Sonday Reading Center, (now Orton Gillingham Reading Specialists) in Edina, Minnesota. I was a bit star struck when I realized Karen Sonday, my new boss, was the daughter of Arlene Sonday, the author of my beloved Sonday System. I went on to take Orton Gillingham training through Orton Gillingham of Minnesota. I had two of the most amazing mentors a girl could want, both Fellows of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. I was never short of questions. I kept a notebook at my table and any questions big or small went into my notebook. I needed answers to everything. Staff meetings were full of lively discussions formed from the tattered notebooks I always carried around. I researched online and read voraciously anything about the English language I could. As the years went by I found myself answering the questions of others and I was even able to lecture. I found my passion, or rather it found me.
Looking back I now know why school was so hard. I too have dyslexia. I may not have gotten to where I am on the same course many have taken. I formed my own path, through observation, discovery and the need to help others who struggle as I did. No child should feel dumb or not good enough. All children deserve to read and spell.
In spite of my bad experiences, I do fondly remember my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Culnane. In my head floats her voice saying, “aster means stars”. Little did I know I would become the word nerd I am. As I’m reflecting back, perhaps it was in the stars I would be here talking to you now. Thanks for reading, I’m excited to start this journey.
Please contact me at Pam@LaughingOgrePress.com