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Unlocking Opportunities

Eight years ago, Ohio teacher Angela Haning made a binding promise to her first class of students. The fifth graders made her “pinkie swear” she would attend their high school graduation in 2019. When they reunited at the ceremony this past spring to celebrate, Angie and her former students laughed, shed a few tears, and shared what they’ve learned over the years.

While the graduates were busy acquiring knowledge and skills in preparation for a new chapter in their lives, Angie, a middle school English Language Arts teacher, was doing the same. Earlier this year, she added Wilson® Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.) and Just Words® Instructor to her credentials and has moved into a new role in her school district of 2,610 students.

With enhanced skills in multisensory structured language (MSL) instruction, Angie’s days now focus entirely on helping struggling readers overcome their literacy challenges using Just Words for students with mild-to-moderate gaps in their reading and spelling skills, and the Wilson Reading System® (WRS) for students who require more intensive intervention due to language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, or insufficient progress in their current intervention.

“I went into teaching because I wanted to change the lives of my learners for the better,” Angie shared. “Wilson does just that. I finally feel like I am making a difference that will not only help my students in the classroom, but will help them to lead full, productive lives in today’s society.”

Angie said the support she received from Wilson Credentialed Trainer Shari Barr while earning WRS Level I Certification was instrumental in her and her student’s success. “Shari’s feedback was thorough, prompt, individualized, and always positive. She knew how to guide without steering, leaving room to truly learn from the practicum experience.”

Angie also credits her administration with providing support and resources to ensure the programs can be implemented with fidelity.

“They know the value of the training, and what Wilson can do for a student, what Wilson can do for a teacher, and what Wilson can do for a school district.”

A revised schedule now includes double-block time and enables her to devote 45 minutes daily to students in her two Just Words classes, followed by another 45-minute block for English language arts, which she tailors to address students’ individual needs. The four students receiving intensive intervention with WRS meet with her daily for 90 minutes. The small-group instruction fulfills the practicum requirements as she pursues certification in WRS Level II and her Wilson® Dyslexia Therapist (W.D.T.) professional credential with Wilson® Credentialed Trainer Maryann Barry.

“My students are getting the systematic, multisensory strategies needed to optimize their learning. Mastering language structure for better reading and writing is allowing them to enjoy and unlock opportunities that were once not accessible to them,” Angie said. “For example, if there was a book that sparked their interest, often the interest would not be sustained because it was too challenging. Now, with Wilson strategies, my students have learned how to conquer tough text if they see a trouble spot.”

As a lifelong learner herself, Angie is dedicated to helping struggling readers discover their interests and potential by accessing the world around them through literacy. The skills she gained to effectively instruct students in multisensory structured language (MSL) instruction are transforming lives.

“You see the lightbulb moment every day. That changes their whole demeanor, their whole outlook on life, their whole attitude toward school, and their dreams of what they might do later in life. Everything changes.”

Angie’s Level I practicum student, Gavin A., began WRS last year as an eighth grader reading at a mid-fourth grade level. Within the year, his skills advanced to early eighth-grade level. And this fall, he began high school with reading and spelling skills on par with his peers.

“I really enjoyed my time learning about reading and using the Wilson way with Mrs. Haning,” Gavin shared. “My reading level skyrocketed because of the program. I’m now in high school and doing well in my classes.”

With Angie’s guidance and instruction, many more graduation celebrations are on the horizon.