HOUSTON – A Houston special school opened during the pandemic to help fill a literacy gap in the public school system.
Houston’s Code Academy Dyslexia School, which is located at West University Place, was founded in 2021 by Tammy Spencer, a 27-year-old public educator.
“The public school system, our brick and mortar that we know best, is very pro-neurotypical,” Spencer said. “That means if you are able to go in and follow whatever your teachers are teaching and you don’t need a specialized type of teaching or learning approach, then that would be a framework. terrific. But what happens, in my case, to one in five [students] who have the scrambled letters? How can we help them reach their literacy skills? »
Spencer said that as businesses closed during the pandemic, she decided to open one. She said that as schools adapt to virtual learning, the need for Code Academy is greater.
“Every teacher had to learn new ways to teach through technology without sitting in front of the kids,” the educator said. “The students we serve here cannot learn like this. They will really struggle. Frustration sets in. They are not happy, and above all, they are not growing.
Spencer said she strongly believes that if students can’t learn the way educators teach, those educators should teach the way students learn.
Dyslexia is a neurological learning disability that makes reading difficult due to problems identifying speech, sounds, and learning their relationship to letters and words. It’s not just about words appearing scrambled.
Spencer said that at Code Academy, students learn the six types of syllables, phonological awareness, association of sounds and symbols, syllabation, spelling, syntax, morphology, reading comprehension. and reading fluency.
Kanisha Aiken and her 9-year-old son Carter were among the first to enroll when the school initially operated out of Spencer’s apartment.
“We live in Katy. So we dropped them off, they did their lessons, we came back to pick them up, ”says the mother of two children. “We did this every day for a very long time.”
Kanisha said Carter was officially diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade, but started noticing the signs much earlier.
“Carter was in kindergarten when we started thinking he didn’t really rhyme,” she said. “He didn’t understand sight words, but I kind of let it go.”
After two years at Code Academy, Kanisha said her third-year student was a more confident student.
“His grades are amazing. He’s actually back in public school now and teaches at Dyslexia School in Houston pretty much every day now,” Kanisha said. “He’s just a completely different kid. He reads books in the car, he reads signs in the car. He’s completely changed his life.”
Christine Jacobs said her daughter Ava has also done a 180 since attending school.
“She wasn’t that kid who grabbed a book and said, ‘Mommy, I want to’, but now, because Mrs. Tammy taught her a way to learn to read on her own, it reverberates so well ways, my husband and I are so happy,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said she was happy to have found Code Academy, which fills a desperately needed void in the Houston area.
“Because Ava had learning differences, it was difficult not only academically, but also socially and emotionally,” Jacobs added. “She has dyslexia and ADD. So those two things combined in a regular general education setting can be difficult.
Spencer said the services her school provides don’t require a lot of decoding.
There are 20 students in each class with four teachers.
Spencer said that unlike the public school setting, students at her school get more hands-on time with fewer interruptions.
“What would usually take me, you know, six to eight months, I’m able to do it in 12 to 15 weeks,” she said. “By the time I’m done with them in 12-15 weeks, they’re decoding, they’re reading, their whole world has changed.”
As the school is non-profit, the education provided to students is free.
“We take letters and teach them the sounds. We put these letters together and they form a word. We take these words together, we build sentences. Sentences form paragraphs, paragraphs form chapters. In the end, our children read. They are completely literate,” Spencer said.
If you want to support the school or learn more, visit the Dyslexia School of Houston website.
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