Location: Conway, Arkansas
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Master’s degree in Reading, and PhD in Leadership with a Dyslexia focus
Years Experience Teaching: 24
Years Experience In Dyslexia: 10
I started working in education in 1999 with Little Rock School District. I taught 3rd and 4th grades there for 14 years. In 2013 I moved into higher education. I became trained in multiple Dyslexia programs, taught literacy and assessment classes for the MAT program, and was the program director. In 2017 I accepted the Graduate Literacy Program Director and Assistant Professor position at the University of Central Arkansas in the Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education Department. Since then, I have led our program to renew our accreditation through the International Dyslexia association, and our program has tripled in size. We now train teachers in 27 states and 3 countries in Literacy and Dyslexia instruction certifying Arkansas teachers in Dyslexia and as Reading Specialists. I am certified through the Center for Effective Reading Instruction as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist, and I am in year 2 of my Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) training using Take Flight.
I currently serve the International Dyslexia Association as an Accreditation and Accreditation Plus program provider reviewer. I am also currently a member of ALTA as a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) in training.
Programs Trained In
Barton Reading and Spelling
Connections OG in 3D
Wilson Reading System
I will be trained in the next year in Structures and the Sonday system as well.
Age Range You Feel Most Comfortable With:
While I am most comfortable with elementary grades and am certified in Elementary Grades 1-6, my Reading Specialist Certification is in K-12. I have personally worked with students ranging from Kindergarten through 10th grades.
Why did you decide to become a CALT?
When I was a classroom teacher and encountered my first student with Dyslexia, not one person in the district could help me. In all of my education, Dyslexia had never been mentioned. I was determined to help that student, and the many others who struggled, be able to read. Therefore, I continually seek out training in order to be the most well-rounded therapist I can be. Additionally, many of our students at UCA are interested in CALT training. I think it’s imperative that I stay up-to-date and certified at the highest levels in order to best serve my students. My goal is to become a QI and train CALTs through UCA.
Favorite moment working with dyslexic students?
I love when they crack the code and the light bulb goes on! One of my students recently said, “This is easy once you know the rules!”
Your goal when working with kids with dyslexia?
My goal when working with kids with Dyslexia is to support them in all facets of reading including: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Reading Comprehension as well as the emotional side of being a student with Dyslexia. My goal is to meet students where they are, identify the areas of lesser strengths, and provide instruction and guidance in order for my students to become both academically successful and empowered to advocate for themselves.
Your teaching style, personality?
Building relationships is critical. It is the foundation of good teaching. I first and foremost work for my student to feel comfortable, know that I care about them, and know that I am on their side. I ensure my students feel safe with me emotionally as well as academically. I have a softer, calming, soothing voice; pace instruction appropriately; and provide an encouraging and respectful environment. A quote that has guided me my entire career in education is by Roger Farr: “Honor what children can do rather than destroying them for what they cannot do.”
Any family details?
I am married to my best friend, and we have an adult son who is married. We have several dogs – many of which are special needs. I was born and raised and stayed in Arkansas. We love spending time together as a family, watching movies, reading, and traveling.
Any extra anecdotal info you want to add?
I find joy every day in what I do. To me, this is not work but a calling, and I hope to one day hear those sweet words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”