My name is Lori Jurjovec. I have been in education for 17 years. I worked as an elementary classroom teacher in Naperville District 203 for 6 years and have been privately tutoring students for 12 years. In 2002, I received my undergraduate, Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with a reading endorsement from Illinois State University. In 2005, I obtained a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University.
As a private tutor, I have worked with over 100 students. Over the years, I began noticing patterns in regards to students that seemed extremely bright, and had excellent verbal and oral comprehension skills, but struggled to make appropriate gains despite the extra hours put in with successful phonics interventions. Many of these students were motivated to succeed and had incredibly supportive home environments, but they just couldn't seem to retain what they had been taught, and all seemed plagued with difficulties decoding and encoding multi-syllable words.
In 2017, I had a student who received a dyslexia diagnosis. As an educator in the field for almost two decades, I realized I knew very little about dyslexia and how it impacted a students ability to read and spell. Embracing the Maya Angelou quote that reads, "Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it," I began to research dyslexia and how to best instruct a student with dyslexia. I first began using a specific intervention, known as the Barton Reading and Spelling System. This system, which is based in Orton-Gillingham principles, was created for teaching dyslexic students to read and spell. It was designed so that parents who were struggling to find the right kind of support for their child, could actually train to deliver it to them at home. It was also a great starting point for me. I could train myself at home, by watching instructional videos, and then deliver instruction that would be meeting the needs of a dyslexic learner. I was skeptical of the program claims initially, but the more I read on the reading brain, the more I knew I needed a new approach with these students.
After a few months I couldn't believe the progress that was being made! I was using this intervention with a few students who fit a dyslexic profile. I quickly shifted my practice over to working solely with this population of students. After 6 months, I was completely amazed at the improvement in decoding and spelling! Rules were starting to stick. I could see students applying the decoding strategies and recalling spelling rules and generalizations. My lessons were following a progression that made sense to these students. The instruction was building upon mastered concepts and was tailored to the progress of the individual student.
With the results and gains I was seeing in my students, I decided that I would like more training. I enrolled in a program through the Dyslexia Training Institute out of the University of San Diego to become a Certified Dyslexia Instructor. I took courses that gave a comprehensive background on what dyselxia is and was trained in Orton-Gillingham methodologies. Aside from Barton training, I also participated in the introductory training course for another OG program known as Wilson. By following an Orton-Gillingham progression and through careful assessment of literacy skills, I can tailor a program to help students reach their full potential and break through the literacy roadblocks of dyslexia and other language based learning disabilities.