About Me and My Program
I have decades
as an educator.
My experience as an educator:
I have been an educator for 40 years, in a variety of settings, including one-on- one instruction, small groups, and the classroom.
My qualifications as a specialist:
I am a Master-Certified Barton Reading and Spelling tutor, which is the highest certification offered by the developer.
I have taken numerous students through all ten levels of the Barton program.
My expertise as a Master Teacher:
I regularly coach other tutors and equip them to become more effective and engaging instructors.
My fun-loving style:
I am light-hearted, entertaining, and quirky... and I aim to keep my students laughing! In fact, it's not unusual for them to say at the end of a lesson, "What? We're done ALREADY? That went by so fast!"
In addition to the creative spin I put on my teaching, I like to surprise my students in other ways! I enjoy dressing up in silly costumes to celebrate special occasions.
Giving my students something to chuckle about is one of my greatest joys!
I'd love to share with you what I offer my students.
My method is UNIQUE.
I am passionate about helping dyslexic students succeed, which is why I use proven research-based methods that draw upon the science of reading. I have the highest level of certification in the Barton Reading and Spelling System.
I began my dyslexia tutoring career as a Barton tutor, and I still teach all of the content included in the Barton System. However, over the past 15 years, I have developed an approach to the material that is more creative, engaging, and effective than traditional tutoring.
My unique method of Structured Literacy is called Unleashing Literacy: Designed For Dyslexia. The scope of the material is far more extensive than most programs, and the presentation is fresh and captivating!
It is aligned with the principles of both Speech to Print and Sensory Cognitive Instruction, and it is designed explicitly for the dyslexic brain.
Unleashing Literacy: Designed For Dyslexia combines rigorous logic, critical thinking, multi-sensory strategies and extraordinary creativity. Art, music and storytelling make the concepts memorable and engaging.
That means that students are simultaneously harnessing their logical left brain and igniting their creative right brain.
This is a sophisticated college-prep program that does more than just teach reading and spelling. Students hone their vocabulary, comprehension and fluency skills to a remarkable level.
There is nothing else like it in the world of dyslexia instruction.
I'm an ENTERTAINER.
In addition to being an educator and a dyslexia specialist, I have been a professional musician and performing artist.
My one-of-a-kind approach interweaves art, music, stories, games and theatrics into the lessons. This creates a highly interactive and entertaining experience for my students.
My students are fond of telling me, "Your songs get stuck in my head!"
I have extensive experience working with students who suffer from anxiety, emotional trauma, low self-esteem, and attention deficit issues. My gentle, supportive manner lets them know they are safe with me.
I enjoy staying in touch with my students after they graduate. Many have shared with me over the years that working with me saved their lives... in some cases, literally. The work we do together is transformational.
I invite you to visit my testimonials page to read their words for yourself!
My skills and experience as an dyslexia advocate:
I am experienced at navigating the school system, both public and private. I have extensive experience guiding parents as they prepare for school meetings related to their child’s IEP.
When requested by parents, I can also remotely attend IEP team meetings to offer my expert advice as a dyslexia specialist.
My advocacy has helped many parents get the accommodations they need for their students.
My online approach:
I have been teaching remote lessons online since 2012, long before "distance learning" was the familiar concept that it is now. Over the years, I have honed the craft of effectively engaging my students on Zoom. Our sessions are so lively and personable that we often find ourselves feeling as if we are actually together in person!
See my "Tutoring" page for more useful details about remote lessons.
My special relationships with my students:
The mother of Benjamin, one of my middle school students, shared, "Karen, my son says you understand him better than anyone else in the world. I'm so glad he has you in his life!"
Another parent shared a similar story: "The connection you have with our daughter is one-of-a-kind. No one else understands her like you do. Karen, you are a lifeline of sanity for us all!"
The deep bond of trust and respect that I build with my students helps them make their way through the ups and downs of school and life.
I am also a tough cookie!
My students often struggle with resistance to tutoring, which is understandable. As fun and entertaining as I make it, tutoring is still hard work! Kids aren't generally a big fan of hard work, and some will do just about anything to get out of it. While sympathetic to their feelings, I am also stubbornly committed to helping them learn self-discipline and persistence. A veteran of pep talks and tough love, I am constantly holding them accountable and challenging them to rise to the occasion.
My teenage student, Jonathan, was a witty, delightful young man and a very talented athlete. He was also extremely bright, and he was experiencing great success in my program. However, 6 months before completing the program, he decided he wanted to quit. Tutoring was challenging and he was tired of the hard work. He said he would prefer to spend his energy on his top priority: sports.
I had several heart-to-heart talks with Jonathan about the impact this program would have on his future success in life. I reminded him of the incredible tenacity and discipine he exhibited in sports, and I challenged him to channel those efforts into his studies with me. He finally agreed. It was a decision he didn't regret. When Jonathan graduated with pride from my program, he declared, "I'm SO glad I didn't give up. It was worth all the sacrifices. Tell your other students: DON'T QUIT!"
Jonathan's parents shared with me, "Karen, our son met his match when he met you. You are even more stubborn than he is! Jonathan has always managed to sweet-talk his way out of the tough stuff...until NOW. You are one tough cookie, and we are forever grateful."
My empathetic personality and listening ear:
I love my students and they know it. I have deep admiration for their intelligence and hard work, and they feel my affirmation and respect. They often confide in me about their struggles because they know I understand.
This scenario is not unusual. My students frequently need "tough love," and I am willing to give that to them.
On a more personal note...
I have an adventurous, water-loving soul!
I have spent a great deal of time in and around water. I lived aboard a boat for 3 years in California, both on the ocean and on fresh water. Living on the water was an amazing, unforgettable experience.
I now live in Idaho. It's beautiful here! I am enjoying the beauty of the farm lands, the rivers, and the lakes!
I thoroughly enjoy nature and animals.
I love spending my free time exploring the outdoors. I enjoy hiking to waterfalls, creek-walking, boating, river-rafting, paddle boarding, exploring new places, going on nature walks, snuggling with my pets, and writing songs about my adventures!
I am the mother of two grown, married children.
Cassie and Justin are my own fantastic kids! (Pictured below).
I respect them deeply and am grateful that we enjoy close relationships with one another.
As a parent, I have experienced the ups and downs of raising children. I am very empathetic towards the parents of my students, and I am here to offer my support and guidance.