Greengate School featured on Rocketcitymom.com as September’s “Education Spotlight”
Each month, Rocket City Mom picks one school to feature in the “Education Spotlight” section of her website. This month (September), Greengate School is being featured! The article contains a lot of informative information about what makes Greengate so important to our students and our community. If you have questions about why a child should come to Greengate, this article can probably answer many of those questions. We’re so thrilled to be selected and cannot thank Rocket City Mom enough for featuring us! To read the article, click here!
Check out this article in The Huntsville Times about Greengate School’s upcoming 3rd Annual Springing and Swinging Gala. Click here for this Huntsville Times article.
Kathi Tew, Fundraising Director, Trudy Odle, Head of School, and Leslie Bruton, Community Relations Director, display some of the items that will be up for grabs at the live auction at Greengate School’s 3rd Annual Springing and Swinging Gala.
Check out this article and photos of this Spring’s Gala, posted in the Huntsville Times on Tuesday, May 10th:
A Night in New Orleans
Mr. Jimmy Townsend, a retired Chief Warrant Officer (5), came to speak with the students on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011.
Mr. Townsend is a highly successful man who does very complex logistics work for the Apache helicopter program and has traveled all over the world. He was very interested in talking with our children about his own struggles with dyslexia and ADHD in school and during his career.
The kids asked some great questions, and really enjoyed his talk because it combined just the right amount of advice with stories of blowing stuff up!
The Channel 31 TV crew was there to capture it, and Greengate was on the news that night!
Watch it here: http://www.waaytv.com/mediacenter/local.aspx
Thank you, Mr. Townsend, for your enthusiastic and inspirational talk. We enjoyed your visit and hope you’ll come again!
Huntsville is on the cutting edge of treating and schooling children with dyslexia. The learning disability often goes untreated, leaving many to struggle in school and throughout their lives. Huntsville’s Greengate School is trying to fix the problem one student at a time. FOX 54’s Rebecca Shlien has more.
Reading wasn’t always easy for Greengate Student Michael Tichow. “He was struggling to catch onto the sounds and symbols, the relationships between letters and their sounds, and reading was difficult,” says his mom Cathy Tichow. But Michael’s confidence is growing, thanks to Greengate School. “It makes me feel good because now that I can break down the words that I used to not be able to know,” says Michael.
Marcia Ramsey founded the school after her own son was diagnosed with dyslexia. “I started with other children, and one of the dads said, ‘You’re traveling all over the city, it would be more efficient to have them come to you. You could serve more children.’ So he gave me the seed money to start the school,” says Ramsey.
Through its small class sizes, the school is able to provide more individualized attention, helping kids advance faster than they would with just a tutor. “They give you more attention,” says Michael.
Ramsey says up to 20% of children have dyslexia, but many cases go undiagnosed. “Kids can cover it up, especially since most are fairly bright,” says Ramsey.
And diagnosis is essential to ensure a child’s future success. “They don’t have the confidence to pursue the kinds of things they could do if they had a better grounding in school,” says Ramsey.
Michael says he wants to be a veterinarian, and thanks to Greengate, he’s one step closer. “It’s a state-of-the-art school, and I would like everybody in Huntsville to know that it’s here, and it’s really something to be proud of,” says Tichow.
Dyslexia affects about 20 percent of Americans, making it the nation’s leading learning disability.
Those statistics, as compiled by the National Institute of Child Health and Development, helped to convince Mayor Paul Finley to proclaim October as Dyslexia Awareness Month in Madison.
For the Sept. 27 signing at City Hall, Marcia Ramsay, head of Greengate School, accompanied Madison students from Greengate.
Ramsay and colleagues are scheduling events across Alabama to explain dyslexia’s characteristics and steps that people can take to help.
“We intend to provide information to parents, educators and government officials about addressing the needs of dyslexic individuals in our schools and work places,” Ramsay said.
Dyslexia has huge economic and social impacts and affects people of all economic, ethnic and social backgrounds worldwide, she said.
Greengate School in Huntsville “supports and educates bright children with specific learning differences in reading, writing, or spelling (dyslexia) so they may realize their full potential,” Ramsay said.
Dyslexia can led to language problems, such as deficits in processing language. “Greengate students have individualized, daily tutoring and are taught elements of reading and writing with a structured, sequential, multi-sensory approach,” Ramsay said.
Greengate School is a 501(c)3 non-profit, independent school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Orton-Gillingham Academy.
Also accredited by Orton-Gillingham, Cindy Hall teaches dyslexic students at Faith Christian Academy in Madison (faithacademy.org). “I pull my students from their main classroom for 90 minutes of tutoring every day for reading, spelling, penmanship and language,” Hall said.
Some dyslexic children also have problems with math. To convey multiplying 7 X 5, Hall makes seven piles of five buttons. “An abstract concept then is concrete, and it works,” Hall said.
Dyslexia is genetic with neurological origin, characterized by difficulties with spelling, accurate word recognition and decoding abilities, Ramsay said. Also, problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading can slow vocabulary growth.
“Dyslexia is caused by a difference in the way the dyslexic person’s brain is wired,” Ramsay said, “and not by low intelligence, inadequate teaching or emotional problems.” Dyslexia is not a disease and cannot be ‘cured.’
However, children who receive early and intense instruction that is direct and multi-sensory can become efficient readers and overcome many deficits. “This approach teaches patterns and strategies for decoding language, rather than guessing,” Ramsay said.
Research is helping. Ramsay cited magnetic imaging of the brain and software for voice recognition and conversion of text to speech.
Dyslexic individuals can understand high school and college work. “My dyslexic son just graduated from college in environmental studies,” Ramsay said. “However, many kids drop out because they don’t get the instruction, support and accommodations they need.”
By Clive (Max) Maxfield’, Guest writer for the N2NA www.n2northalabama.com
If left untreated, kids with dyslexia can face an uphill struggle throughout their working lives. Fortunately, Huntsville, Alabama, is home to Greengate School, which is one of the premier dyslexia schools in the country.
Does Dyslexia Really Exist?
In 1925, the American physician and neural psychologist Samuel Torrey Orton determined that there was a syndrome unrelated to brain damage that made learning to read difficult. Orton teamed up with psychologist and educator Anna Gillingham, and almost all dyslexia intervention today is based on the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach, which involves structured multi-sensory language training.
We’re all “hard-wired” for speech. We begin learning in the womb when we start to internalize sounds. Reading is not the same – it’s a human-learned activity that most people have to be taught. Some people are simply not wired for reading – their brains are just organized differently – this is the root of what we now refer to as dyslexia.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to reading and writing, every one of us is co-opting parts of the brain that were evolved for other purposes. We all start reading in the same way. The right parietal-temporal lobe in the brain is concerned with non-verbal memory. When we are learning to read, we use the right parietal-temporal lobe to sound out the individual letters and blend them together to form words. In fact we still use this approach to some extent when we’re faced with an unfamiliar or complex word such as “strephosymbolia.”
As we (non-dyslexics) progress, we start to hand things over to the left temporal and occipital lobes, which comprise the visual processing center of the mammalian brain. These are the areas that are associated with automatic and efficient reading and writing. This allows us to develop a very strong visual impression of words – the “shape” of the words, the length of words, their beginning and end letters – and reading becomes fast, efficient, and automatic.
What fMRI and PET scans reveal is that, when reading, non-dyslexics exhibit large amounts of activity in the left temporal lobe and occipital lobes. By comparison, dyslexics show little activity in these areas; for them, neural pathways are not strongly established between the various centers of the brain that are normally associated with reading, with the result that the bulk of the work continues to be performed in the right parietal-temporal lobe. This is why they continue to employ phonological processing – sounding out the letters and trying to blend them together to form words.
One result of these processing differences is to mix up letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘m’ and ‘n’, and ‘p’ and ‘q’; to mirror-image letters like ‘s’; to reverse entire words and see “was” for “saw”, for example; and also to reverse and transpose numbers, like writing 21 when they really intended to write 12. This latter case often results in an unwary math teacher counting a problem wrong when the kid actually got it right and simply wrote down the wrong answer.
Unfortunately, dyslexics are often perceived as being “less intelligent” and “below average.” In reality, dyslexia is diagnosed in people of all levels of intelligence: below average, average, above average, and highly gifted. To put this another way, dyslexics’ cognitive and thinking skills are just as good as everyone else’s.
The good news is that if kids are diagnosed early enough and receive effective early intervention (in some cases starting as soon as kindergarten and the first grade) it’s possible for them to completely overcome the difficulties posed by dyslexia.
What to Do? Where to Go?
Regular schools in Alabama don’t specifically test for dyslexia, so where do you go if you are a parent and you think your kid has a problem? Well, one option is the Scottish Rite – a Masonic organization that devotes itself to philanthropic pursuits, with a particular focus on dyslexia.
There are Scottish Rite Foundation of Alabama Learning Centers in most major Alabama cities, including Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and – of course – Huntsville. Starting around 2000, the Scottish Rite Foundation decided to offer free dyslexia testing to any child in the state of Alabama. All you have to do is to call them to set up a testing appointment. Unfortunately, due to large demand, at the time of this writing there is currently around a six-month waiting list. Alternatively, you can opt for a fee-based test, which may have a waiting list of only a couple of weeks. This latter option will typically cost from around $400 to $450 (and up) for a basic battery of dyslexia tests.
Assuming your child takes such a test and the diagnosis is dyslexia, where do you go and what are your options? Well, first of all, regular schools don’t automatically grant accommodations and special services based on the results from Scottish Rite or fee-based tests – they have to run their own. Furthermore, they don’t test specifically for dyslexia; rather, they test to determine if there is a “learning disability,” which is defined as a 16-point or greater discrepancy between a IQ test scores and achievement test scores. So if a kid has an IQ of 100 (which is average) and an achievement score of 84, then that kid will be classed as having a learning disability. (To be fair, this is an extremely simplified version of how eligibility for special education services is established, but it is basically correct.)
Another issue is that since upwards of 20% of students struggle with reading problems, and at least 10% are truly dyslexic, schools and teachers may not be able to adequately serve all students who need help. In the case of a kid who is only mildly dyslexic, then accommodations and school-level remediation are often sufficient. By comparison, for kids with moderate to severe dyslexia, the problem becomes exponentially more difficult to remediate – in this case specialist teachers and facilities are required. Unfortunately, such facilities are few and far between. There are private schools that target autism, behavioral issues, ADHD, kids with Aspberger’s syndrome, and so forth, but there are relatively few establishments that specialize in dyslexia.
Thus, many folks are surprised to discover that Huntsville, Alabama, boasts one of the premier schools for dyslexia in the country. (I had no idea myself until a friend who has severe dyslexia and who is involved with the school told me about it and invited me to visit.) Founded in 2002, and named after a tranquil village in Northern England, Greengate School has a mission to educate and support bright children who have specific learning differences in reading, spelling, or writing so that they may realize their full potential.
The head of Greengate School (and former head of the Montessori School of Huntsville) is Marcia Ramsey. An educator with 30+ years teaching experience, Marcia is an acknowledged specialist in the Orton-Gillingham teaching approach. Marcia is also president of the state branch of the International Dyslexia Association, and Greengate School actually handles all calls to the state branch and queries from all over Alabama.
I was fortunate enough to visit Greengate School just a few days ago as I pen these words, and the overwhelming impression was that this was the home of a bunch of very happy kids. The student-teacher ratio at Greengate could hardly be better. At the time of this writing there are 22 students (Greengate accepts kids from Kindergarten through eighth grade) and 22 staff members, 18 of who are teaching staff. All the kids receive one-on-one intervention with regards to their dyslexia; in the case of group instruction in other subjects there are typically two to six kids per class.
The folks at Greengate provide a tremendous resource for kids, parents, and teachers. In addition to their main school program, they also offer a four week summer camp for area children who need reading support during the summer in order to have a stronger start to the new school year. There are now “Greengate Graduates” who have returned to regular high schools all over the city (indeed, all over North Alabama) who are succeeding because the skills they learned at Greengate have made them strong enough and confident enough that they are now equipped to manage on their own in a regular educational environment.
For more information on Greengate School and anything to do with dyslexia, please visit the Greengate website at www.GreengateSchool.org or call them at 256-551-4439.
About the Author
Clive “Max” Maxfield is president of TechBites Inc. (www.TechBites.com), the science and technology collaborative community. Max is the author and co-author of a number of books on Electronics, Computers, Mathematics, and 3D Graphics. In addition to being a hero, trendsetter, and leader of fashion, Max is widely regarded as being an expert in all aspects of computing and electronics (at least by his mother).
November 21, 2012
Recently, Huntsville Times Reporter Crystal Bonvillian, and photographer Eric Schultz, visited Greengate School to interview Mrs. Trudy Odle, Head of Greengate School, and Ms. Leslie Bruton, Community Relations Director, about Greengate’s 10th year of operation and the many reasons Greengate is so important to the Huntsville community. The article was posted online, along with some great pictures of greengate students. We encourage you to read the article and view the photos!
Monday, January 30, 2006
Junior Lego League
Two teams from Greengate School competed in the Junior First Lego League Southeast Regional Exposition held recently in Atlanta. The event was the first exposition for ages 6 to 9, and Greengate was the only school representing Alabama in the competition of 21 teams from Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Greengate’s Sargasso Seekers team included Rosie Love, Michael Evens, Miller Cochran and Megan Thurber. Marilyn Szecholda was the team coach.