If you have dyslexia, chances are you are having trouble reading this right now.
Dyslexia is a developmental reading disability resulting from the inability to process graphic symbols, according to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information at the US National Library of Medicine.
But there is hope for those students wanting to beat their dyslexia – they can learn to read.
At the Gow School just outside East Aurora, New York, students with learning disabilities obtain the skills in language and phonics in order to prepare for college.
“100 per cent of our boys go on to college,” boasted Gow Headmaster Bradley Rogers.
The all boys school serves approximately 140 students in grades 7 through 12 from 25 states and 22 countries, according to Mr. Rogers.
The class sizes are small, with only three to seven children per class, which means there is a four-to-one student to faculty ratio. And 65 per cent of the staff have advanced degrees.
This includes science teacher Bradley Rausch, who holds his master’s degree in education.
“That is what Gow is known for,” he said. “The reconstructive language course breaks language down and rebuilds it.”
This research-based method focuses on old-fashioned phonics and traditional studies – alphabet analysis, spelling, vocabulary, word roots, prefixes and affixes.
In 2007, Mr. Rausch taught the introductory courses to George Lewis, an 11 year-old boy from Grand Cayman.
“He put a good amount of effort into those phonics cards,” Mr. Rausch remembered. “He would have some trouble, but he understood his disability.”
At an early age, George was diagnosed with dyslexia. He was put into different programmes in Cayman, but the Island didn’t have the support for this type of learning disability.
His mother and father, Christina Bodden and Mark Lewis, decided that their son would not suffer with language.
“For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to learn phonetically,” Mr. Lewis said.
They reached out through education services in Cayman and found out about the Gow School.
“We looked for a school to match George with a learning system,” he said. “We chose the school because it was the best fit for George going forward.”
Since his days at Gow, George has transformed into an ambitious, bright young man. He followed the four important ideas at Gow – kindness, respect, honesty and hard work – and overcame his learning disability.
“They transformed his life in one semester,” Mr. Lewis said. “He found a role, a place, his personality… he’s now a leader.”
George was even given the Triple C Award – commitment, character, courage – by the Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman.
Four years after first settling in at Gow – this week – George is busy taking his final examinations. His mother is headed up to New York for the commencement ceremony.
“I am just so proud of George,” she said. “So proud of him.”
Looking back, Mr. Lewis remembered the first time the whole family visited the Gow School.
They were about 10 miles away from the campus and George told his parents he was nervous. Mr. Lewis told his son that he had a choice – he had 10 miles to make that choice. And he’d be glad to turn around, but it was up to George.
“You have to make this choice,” he told his son.
When they got to about five miles away from the campus, George spoke up from the back seat.
“I want to go,” he said to his parents. “Because I know at the end of the day this will be better for me.”