As a young boy growing up in Philadelphia, I surely had a nice group of friends, but Dick and Jane were not among them. The idyllic stars of the early 50's New Basic Readers series for beginning readers were, in fact, my nemeses!
The truth was, I couldn’t learn to read and struggled miserably to decode the images on each page. My mother bought a copy of the basal reader and sat with me night after night while I memorized the words in what we predicted would be the next day’s classroom portion. But if “Dick didn’t run,” or “Jane didn’t see Spot,” I was in big trouble! Off to the nurse I’d go with a make-believe ailment created to avoid the shame and embarrassment I would feel if called upon.
It wasn’t until the 5th grade that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. A tutor trained in the tenets of Orton-Gillingham (early pioneers in the field of dyslexia) taught me strategies using methods that were proving to be successful for struggling readers. Just as important, he gave me self- confidence and the belief that I really could learn to read. My childhood experience inspired me to choose education, with a focus on reading and other learning disabilities, as a career path. I have never let dyslexia define or limit who I am, but creating paths for others like me became my life’s mission.
I am privileged to head Jemicy School, the first school in the nation to be accredited by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), where we educate talented and bright students with dyslexia or other related language-based learning differences by addressing both their intellectual strengths and their learning needs. We utilize creative, multisensory, and research-based programs and techniques to develop reading, writing, spelling, math, and organization skills; promote a love of learning; and prepare students for the intellectual and social challenges of college and life.
Our faculty is trained in teaching methods approved by the International Dyslexia Association. Through the use and integration of these effective teaching techniques, Jemicy teachers are able to tailor instruction to the learning needs of each student. In addition, technology enhances each student’s native problem-solving capability. Jemicy students learn to understand and appreciate their unique learning style and become effective self-advocates. Each year, Jemicy enrolls a number of new students based on their learning styles, academic needs, interests, and abilities. We seek bright, engaged, hard-working students who demonstrate strong, innate comprehension skills, yet struggle with language mechanics. We look for students who will benefit from our programs and contribute to the life of the school. We welcome your interest in our school and encourage you to visit us. At Jemicy, you will find a community of creative and confident students working closely with highly-trained and dedicated adults. Even as Jemicy pursues a specialized mission, most of what we provide is simply a superlative education.
More About Ben
Ben Shifrin, who is currently serving his 17th year as head of school, provides a wealth of experience and expertise to Jemicy, where he interacts with students daily. Dyslexic himself, Ben brings a uniquely sensitive approach to working with students and lives up to his commitment that students’ needs come before all else.
Ben served on the Executive Board of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the Maryland governor’s Dyslexia Task Force. He is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas School’s Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children, the Dyslexia Foundation, and Stevenson University President’s Advisory Council. He speaks nationally and internationally on the collaboration between neuroscience and education and on other topics relevant to learning differences.
Ben attended Temple University, where he earned a B.S. in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Special Education and Administration, graduating summa cum laude with both degrees.
An internationally recognized leader in educating talented and bright students with dyslexia or other related language-based learning differences.