IDA-GA establishes the David Schenck Legacy Award
(Atlanta, Georgia, February 7, 2015) — On December 23, 2014, the Atlanta community lost a great pioneer and advocate in the world of dyslexia education. If you had the pleasure of knowing David Schenck, you know that he was a thoughtful man who was revered as a combination between Santa Claus and a superhero. Children were drawn to him, and teachers were inspired by his easy way of connecting with every learner and explaining to even the most staunch adversary the benefits of Orton Gillingham group instruction. He began what he lovingly referred to as his little school with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of a few struggling readers.
David was not always an educator. It wasn’t until he left his job as a warehouse worker to take a teaching job in New England that he began to uncover his own dyslexia. Working at a camp for dyslexics in Maine under the direction of an associate of Dr. Samuel Orton, Page Sharp, David discovered that he was the spitting image of the students- he couldn’t spell. With the help and encouragement of Ms. Sharp and his wife, Dee, David overcame his own dyslexia using the same strategies as the campers. He returned to Atlanta, earned a Master’s degree from Emory, and began teaching at what is now Woodward Academy. During that time working with failing high school students, he realized the intense need for all students to be given the opportunity to learn to read.
The Schenck School began in the basement of St. Anne’s Church with 7 students and 15 orange crates for desks. Over the past 55 years, that little school has changed the lives of thousands of families in Atlanta and shined a light on the beauty of our dyslexic learners. In 1990, David met with several like-minded educators and administrators in Atlanta and began the Georgia Chapter of what was then The Orton Dyslexia Society. David was the first president of what is now IDA-GA.
Throughout the years, David, with Dee by his side, used his quiet, unassuming way to help build a strong foundation for students with dyslexia not only in his little school, but throughout the region. The Schenck School is now a leader in training teachers in the Orton Gillingham approach throughout Georgia. David’s ideals, humility and purity of purpose are the hallmarks of his legacy.
With great pleasure and privilege, IDA-GA establishes the David Schenck Legacy Award in his honor.
The David Schenck Legacy Award will become a Georgia Branch tradition awarded to exceptional individuals who have made lasting contributions to our Georgia dyslexia community.
Photo Left to Right: IDA-GA Board Member Josie Calamari, Schenck School Head of School Gena Calloway, David Schenck Jr. and IDA-GA Vice President Jenni Miller
2014 IDA-GA Leadership in Literacy and Service Award Winners
The International Dyslexia Association’s Leadership in Literacy Award recognizes a school administrator who has shown leadership in developing literacy in her school or school system within the state of Georgia. The administrator should have demonstrated outstanding leadership through the development of effective reading and/or special education programs, the support of excellent teacher training and professional development that has led to significant gains in student reading achievement, and/or the engagement of parents in school/home cooperative ventures to support literacy.This year, IDA-GA presented the 2014 Leadership in Literacy Award to Rebecca Pruitt.
Ms. Pruitt has been the principal at Morningside Elementary School, part of the Atlanta Public School system, since 2006. Prior to Morningside, Ms. Pruitt was the Instructional Specialist Liaison at Warren T. Jackson Elementary School. In 2010, she began learning more about alternative literacy instruction and began working with her school’s parent-funded foundation to provide her staff with additional instruction methods, curriculum choices, and instructional programs.
Ms. Pruitt has provided Orton Gillingham training to 18 teachers which include the intervention teachers, the special education team, and the Students Support Team Chairperson. Additionally, the teachers at Morningside Elementary are now incorporating OG strategies in the regular classroom. More importantly, students needing more specialized reading instruction are identified earlier and receive intensive, targeted instruction before they fall behind. Morningside’s CRCT scores in reading proficiency have risen from a total score of 77 percent of the students exceeding expectations in reading in 2012, to 90 percent of the students exceeding in reading in 2014.
The International Dyslexia Association GA’s Service Award recognizes an individual who has exhibited dedicated service in pursuing the IDA-GA’s mission within the state of Georgia. The individual should have demonstrated outstanding dedication to increasing public awareness of dyslexia. This year IDA-GA presented the 2014 Service Award to Roni Battoglia.
Ms. Battoglia works at The Swift School as a lead teacher. She has developed workshops to support teachers in the area of differentiated learning, executive function, and brain-based learning. She continually attends conferences all over the country and brings back information to share with faculty and parents. Ms. Battoglia is heavily involved in outreach and continues to help educate families while helping them to navigate the beginning 0f their dyslexic journey. She is a former IDA-GA board member and long-time IDA member.
2013 Leadership in Literacy Award
Atlanta, Georgia — On February 1, 2014, The International Dyslexia Association Georgia Branch 2013 Leadership in Literacy Award was presented to Paul West, assistant director of special education in the Forsyth County School System. The Leadership in Literacy Award recognizes a school administrator who has shown leadership in developing literacy in his/her school or school system within the state of Georgia. The administrator should have demonstrated outstanding leadership through the development of effective reading and/or special education programs, the support of excellent teacher training and professional development that has led to significant gains in student reading achievement, and/or the engagement of parents in school/home cooperative ventures to support literacy.
Mr. West has worked in education for 23 years in various roles in special education, general education where he has taught reading and literacy and has held numerous special education leadership positions. He has developed effective reading and/or special education programs by creating a team of curriculum coordinators, school psychologists and student support interventionists in evaluating the system’s Response to Intervention initiatives. West is responsible for establishing a process to consider and evaluate assistive technology for students with disabilities in the Forsyth County School System. This includes making resources and training available for students, teachers and parents in need of assistive technology resources, such as screen readers, talking word processors and remedial instructional programs to support and teach reading, writing, and literacy.
In addition, West organizes professional learning opportunities annually for his staff by arranging 30 hours of multi-sensory reading instruction, each summer, and arranging for staff to attend trainings in Georgia. He invites guest speakers from the community in addition to the training opportunities for staff on meeting the needs of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. He also promotes literacy outside the school setting as a board member of Literacy Forsyth, whose mission is to promote adult literacy. He serves on the State Advisory Panel for Special Education where he brings not only a leadership perspective but also shares a love of teaching literacy and reading. West acts as the legislative co-chair for the Georgia Council of Administrators of Special Education where he advocates for resources and legislation at both the federal and state levels for all students with disabilities.
2013 IDA-GA Service Award
Atlanta, Georgia — On February 1, 2104, The International Dyslexia Association Georgia Branch presented it’s 2013 Service Award to Tina McGinley and Colleen Beguiristain. The Service Award recognizes an individual, or individuals, who has exhibited dedicated service in pursuing IDA’s mission within the state of Georgia. The individual should have demonstrated outstanding dedication to increasing public awareness of dyslexia.
Tina McGinley began her journey of service several years ago after contacting IDA-GA to help distribute marketing materials for the Dyslexia Dash. She distributed flyers in her area, wrote an article for her local newspaper, and posted the Dash on online calendars. McGinley then offered to spread the word about Outreach Events hosted by IDA-GA and wanted to find out how Georgia could follow Ohio’s lead with dyslexia legislation. She helped gather names of parents interested in joining a grassroots movement for dyslexia legislation reform. Because Georgia schools are locally-controlled, she began to meet with school administrators in Georgia to learn more about how local school systems view dyslexia, train teachers and test students.
Colleen Beguiristain has taken advocacy training and offered to speak with parents needing guidance regarding their rights and how to advocate for their children in the public school. Beguiristain and McGinley joined forces to provide “parent-to-parent” support by becoming the Georgia liaisons for Decoding Dyslexia. Decoding Dyslexia is a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system.
Beguiristain and McGinley created a support group, Dyslexia Network of Forsyth County, which works closely with IDA-GA. Their mission statement reads, “Our mission is to empower families and educators with resources to help students overcome the challenges of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Dyslexia Network of Forsyth County is a group of professionals and parents of children with dyslexia. We are not experts in the field of learning disabilities. However, we feel as if others could benefit from our personal experiences with dyslexia.”
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