The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 16, 2001


According to recent estimates, one of every ten children is challenged by learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, which is specific difficulty in dealing with language. There are problems in understanding written or spoken language and in organizing, storing, and retrieving language information. Dyslexia is estimated to affect some 15 percent of our population ­ more than two million school-age children in the United States.

The Scottish Rite Learning Center in Lowell offers free tutoring to children with language disabilities. The Learning Center on 79 Dutton St. is being sponsored by the 32d Degree Scottish Rite Masons. Children come to the Center twice a week after school and meet with a tutor one-to-one for fifty minutes. The Center is open from October to May and then for a six-week summer school. There is an application process and services are made available on a first-come first-served basis.

Orton-Gillingham, a multisensory, phonetic, structured and sequential approach to the teaching of reading, is the method used to teach the children at the Learning Center.

The Center is currently servicing 22 children from the Greater Lowell area. Some families come from Melrose, Wakefield and Reading. Families make an extraordinary commitment to come to the Center.

In an effort to increase the number of students serviced in the Center, a program for training adults in the Orton-Gillingham methodology is currently being offered free. The combination of seminars and supervised student-teaching experience offer the trainees invaluable hands-on training in Orton-Gillingham reading instruction. The ideal candidate is someone with an educational background. However, others are encouraged to apply. The basic requirement is a college degree. Those who successfully complete the program may have the opportunity for a paid position with the Center, tutoring children.

Carlisle trainees

The Center currently has five persons in its first training program. Two of the trainees, Sandra Burton and Helen Taylor, live in Carlisle. When asked recently about the program, Taylor said, "I'm glad to be participating in this program in Lowell. Although I have an MBA and have been involved in Business Education at Middlesex Community College since the 1980s, I feel this course has helped me further my interest in reading remediation in a professional and supportive environment. Some of the benefits to the Center's location include easy access and free parking." Burton added that she took the course because, "In today's world we're constantly retooling and changing careers. They say that the average person changes careers seven times. I started out in teaching. I loved teaching; I still love teaching. I taught Home Economics. That subject matter is no longer offered. I tried a variety of other career paths,but none were as rewarding as working with children. I also love reading and literature and never knew how to combine the two until I came across an ad in the Mosquito offering the Orton-Gillingham Training Course. It's a wonderful way of teaching children how to read. It works!"

Course description, schedule and application are available on request. There is some flexibility in the training schedule to accommodate individual needs. Anyone wishing further information on the Orton-Gillingham Training Program or tutoring services could contact Eileen Faggiano, director of the Greater Lowell Scottish Rite Learning Center, at 978-937-9577.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito