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Dyslexia Therapy Reimagined

Sommer Burkemper

Location: Saint Louis, Missouri

Education: B.S.Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Reading Specialist Certificate K-12, Dyslexia Therapy Certificate, Southeastern University

Years Experience Teaching: 16

Years Experience In Dyslexia: 5

Teaching Experience

I’m finishing my 16th year of teaching! I started out teaching First Grade and then moved into the Reading Specialist position that I am in now. I have been teaching Reading for 5 years, but it has always been my passion to learn about best practices of reading instruction.

Professional Affiliations

I am a member of the International Dyslexia Association and plan to join the Academic Language Therapy Association this summer!

Programs Trained In

I am trained in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) and Orton Gillingham Methodology. I am taking the two week Take Flight Training course this summer, and will be finished on June 17th. I am pursuing my CALT.

Age Range You Feel Most Comfortable With:
I feel most comfortable with the younger students (2nd and 3rd) but I want to expand my comfort level so I’m excited to work with students of all ages.

Why did you decide to become a CALT?

I decided to become a CALT because when I first started teaching Reading I had the naive belief that I was going to be able to help every single one of my students make the progress that they needed to make. I’m a hard worker and I constantly research best practices. I am reflective and use data to make decisions. So I truly believed my hard work would pay off and I could help every single student. Well, it turns out, I could NOT reach EVERY student. Some made great progress, but there were always been those few that didn’t. I started looking into what I could do to help those students. That’s when I decided to pursue my Dyslexia Therapist Certificate. I also served as a district Dyslexia Trainer, which allowed me to research and learn even more. Now that I’ve learned as much as I have and have seen first-hand what a difference it can make, I thirst for more knowledge. I want to learn about a specific research based program, yes, but I’m seeking more than that. I want the best professional development there is to offer. This is why I have decided to become a CALT.

Favorite moment working with dyslexic students?

My favorite memory is when one of my dyslexic students said “you should really tell the others about this,” when I was teaching him about a spelling rule. This little boy was a bundle of energy and joy and constantly made me laugh. He was just in AWE that no one had explained this rule to him before. I think he felt like we had all been holding back on him!

Your goal when working with kids with dyslexia?

My goal is to help each child to go as far in their reading development as possible. This takes a good relationship between teacher and student, so my ongoing goal is to develop that positive working relationship. I also want to help them realize as early as possible that dyslexia is not good, nor bad. It’s just different.

Your teaching style, personality?

My teaching style involves listening to the child, to develop a relationship, balanced with the need to move with a responsible pace through the lesson components. I am NOT one to teach “to the box.” I believe in program fidelity, but I also believe in the critical importance of teacher knowledge and decision making.

Any family details?

I have a husband and two children, a 7 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. We have two Bengal Cats, Pixie Stick and Skittles. One of our favorite things to do is cuddle up and read together. I’ve read with my kids since the day they were born and I still can’t seem to give away those baby books. They are too precious to me!

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