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, and 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.