In December 2015, Mandy Gilbart, a Wilson Level I Certified educator, reached out to Wilson to share a Carroll County Times article about her remarkable Wilson Reading System® student, Coley. To read the full article, click here. We recently checked in with Mandy to learn more about her journey with Coley and Coley’s recent accomplishments.
I first met Coley in the weeks before the 2014–2015 school year started. She was beginning 8th grade as a new student at Carroll Lutheran School. That August day, I realized she was reading more than four years below grade level, and she decided that if anyone could teach her how to read, it would be me.
I knew from Coley’s assessment data and past reading experiences that WRS would be a perfect fit. I worked with Coley one-on-one, three hours per week, and she experienced success almost immediately. Her confidence increased dramatically, and one night her mom sent me a picture of Coley reading a book for pleasure for the first time ever.
Our school participates in the Maryland Black Eyed Susan Reading Program, which requires students to read three or more Black Eyed Susan Award winning books and write short book reports about them. Students who meet the requirements are invited to a celebration luncheon. Even though the books were well above her independent reading level, a newly motivated Coley decided that she wanted to earn a spot at the celebration. So during Part 10 of our Wilson lessons, we patiently worked through three middle school level novels together. The photo above is a picture of us at the award celebration where Coley earned a certificate, but more importantly, began to believe that she was a reader.
Now, she’s a freshman in high school, and I continue to see her for Wilson lessons two nights per week. She is working in Step 6.4, and as I begin the practicum for my Level II Wilson Certification, I am hoping that she can be my practicum student.
I know that the sky is the limit for this shining star, and for my nine other Wilson students who are all achieving more than I ever imagined. Their classroom teachers and parents are amazed by how well they are reading and writing, from my beginners to my advanced students in Step 7. I am so grateful for the Wilson Reading System. The explicit, systematic instruction creates confident, successful learners, one student at a time.
Mandy’s trainer, Susan Zirpoli, also had the opportunity to meet Coley. Susan said, “One of the highlights of my career was when Coley asked to meet me. She said she wanted to thank me for teaching her teacher how to teach.” Susan also noted, “Coley is a great self-advocate; she is so mature and knows what she needs to learn.” She remarked that both Coley and Mandy are a dynamic duo, “Mandy exemplifies the Wilson way in everything she does; from her demeanor and professionalism to her dedication. She is the perfect example of a Wilson teacher and Coley is an enthusiastic learner.”