TNM: Introduction-where are you originally from and how did you land in the Nashville area?
NDC: My home state is Wisconsin. I earned a teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and then took my first teaching job at a classical Christian school in St. Louis. That’s where I met my husband, Steven. He was the fifth grade teacher, and I was the fourth grade teacher. Prior to meeting me, Steven had lived in Nashville for one year. He brought me to Franklin on vacation several times, and I fell in love with the area! We moved to Nashville in 2014.
TNM: How did your journey begin with working with students?
NDC: Although I didn’t understand at the time, one of the students at the classical school in St. Louis was the beginning of the journey. “John” went through my class and Steven’s, struggling the whole way. John’s spelling was terrible, and his handwriting was messy. When he read aloud, it was slow and inaccurate. Steven and I didn’t know what to do to help him, except to offer him more time to work on assignments. That meant keeping him in at recess, something we hated to do. Eventually, John left the school to seek help elsewhere.
After I taught at the classical school in St. Louis for three years, a family hired me to teach their two daughters at home. The youngest was diagnosed with dyslexia. I became her dyslexia tutor. The lightbulb went on – John was dyslexic!
Since then, I have tutored many students with dyslexia as I taught for families in Franklin and while teaching at a private school in Franklin.
TNM: You and your husband saw the need for additional support for students with dyslexia. What led you to start the Nashville Dyslexia Center?
NDC: We started the Nashville Dyslexia Center for two reasons. First, there are so many children with dyslexia. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity states that 20% of the population has dyslexia. As I thought about my classroom of 14 students, that meant 3 of them were dyslexic!
Second, we watched children’s lives being transformed through tutoring! We saw despairing, frustrated children grow into confident readers and spellers. Their parents went from being fearful about their child’s future to encouraged and hopeful.
TNM: What services do you provide?
NDC: The Nashville Dyslexia Center provides individualized tutoring for dyslexia. We offer tutoring at the student’s home or at our location in Cool Springs. We can also meet at the student’s school if the principal approves, or we meet in another public place. After the student has completed Level 4, we offer writing instruction using the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s program.
The Nashville Dyslexia Center also offers in-services to train teachers about dyslexia.
TNM: What is the best way for families to learn more?
Families who would like to learn more can reach us several ways:
TNM: Can you share a success story or maybe how you have seen the growth in a student’s progress while receiving extra support?
NDC: One boy came to me at the end of second grade. His standardized test scores placed his reading abilities at a kindergarten level. He worked with me 2-4 hours per week. When he took his MAP test at the end of third grade, he was on grade level. That is a gain of three years!
7) When you’re not busy helping children, what is your favorite place to visit or spend time in Nashville?
When we are not helping children, Steven and I love to take walks at Percy Warner Park. You’ll also find us at the library.