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Going Forth

Educators from the country’s tiniest towns to largest cities gathered in Boston for a deep dive into the newly released Wilson Reading System® (WRS) 4th Edition. More than 400 WRS Certified Teachers and Wilson® Credentialed Trainers (W.C.T.) explored the enhanced Instructor Manual and associated materials in preparation for the upcoming school year in public school districts, private schools, reading centers, and other educational settings.

The two-day Conference for Wilson Certified Teachers and the Trainer Meeting featured a variety of general and breakout sessions, along with hands-on practice with Wilson Fidelity Team members, an awards luncheon, and plenty of networking, fun, and camaraderie.

The Mary Ann Bonneau Award was presented to Uri Harel, K-8 curriculum coordinator for the Somerville, MA, public school district. Michelle Manning, a teacher at the Springfield Literacy Center, a K-1 public elementary school within the Springfield School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, received the Sharon Parks Memorial Scholarship for Wilson Reading System Level II. Additionally, eight new Wilson Credentialed Trainers and five Wilson® Accredited Partners were recognized.

Teachers engaged in instructional sessions with Barbara Wilson on WRS 4th Edition highlights, a “Systematic Approach to Phonology, Morphology, and Orthography,” and “Assessment, Accountability, and Instruction.” They also met with self-proclaimed “word-nerd” Deanna Fogarty, senior director of intensive instruction, and members of the Wilson Fidelity Team to learn about expanded core and academic vocabulary wordlists, lesson planning, and end-of-step assessment practice.

Sessions for Trainers focused on the professional learning associated with the new edition, including the updated, three-day WRS Introductory Course, practicum coursework, online instruction, and the Wilson Academy Intensive Learning Community.

Released this year, the WRS 4th Edition builds upon Wilson’s 30 years of experience gained working with educators and students. The enhanced edition provides teachers with even more explicit guidance and extensive resources in word structure, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension to benefit students.

Featured speakers Mandy Gilbart, now Principal of the Carroll Lutheran School in Westminster, MD, and her former student, Coley R., inspired attendees with their poignant journey that began when Coley was an eighth-grader reading at a third-grade level. Coley went on to excel academically in high school, participating in Honors English and Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan literary program.

“Coley and her parents often thank me for what I’ve done for Coley,” Mandy shared. “Really, I need to thank them. Because of Coley, I am a better teacher. I am more patient, more compassionate, more fully engaged. She has been reminder that a lesson is so much more than a lesson plan.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from various academic, literacy, and dyslexia organizations, including The Dyslexia Foundation; Learning Ally; NoticeAbility; Great Minds; and Fitchburg State University, which offers an online master’s degree in special education with WRS Level I and Level II certification embedded in the coursework.

“The Wilson team and educators from across the United States came together with the common goal of improving reading instruction,” remarked Heather Low, a special education consultant in New Hampshire. “The excitement at the conference was contagious!”

“Wilson’s Teacher Conference was an amazing opportunity to meet other Wilson teachers and collaborate and learn from the Wilson team,” shared Maggie Reilley, a special educator at a New Jersey district. “I learned so much about the 4th edition and I feel confident and excited to implement this new edition with my students.  I cannot wait until the next conference!”