About Me and My Program
I'd love to share with you what I offer my students.
I am passionate about helping dyslexic students succeed, which is why I use proven research-based methods, including The Barton Reading and Spelling System, Sensory-Cognitive Instruction and Foundation In Sounds. My methodology, known as Structured Literacy (SL), is inspired by, but not limited to, Orton-Gillingham principles. My approach is designed specifically for the dyslexic brain.
is my specialty!
My experience as an educator:
I have been an educator for almost 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 10 levels of this college-preparatory program.
In addition to being an educator and a dyslexia specialist, I am also a professional musician and performance artist.
I have created a one-of-a-kind approach to teaching dyslexic students. I interweave art, music, stories, games and theatrics into the lessons. This creates a highly interactive and entertaining experience for my students.
I have a remarkable ability to capture my students' attention and engage their curiosity. Students learn more quickly and retain what they learn. In fact, my students are fond of telling me that the songs get stuck in their heads!
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!"
My exceptionally creative approach is unique to me. It is a truly original method of teaching reading and spelling.
There is nothing else like it in the world of dyslexia instruction.
My method is
My artistic flair:
I have created a plethora of colorful, artistic materials. My students are highly intelligent individuals with their own creative prowess, so they appreciate my witty, imaginative presentations!
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 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.
I invite you to read Jonathan's story in his own words, along with that of his parents. See The Crains' Story.
On a more personal note...
My husband, Ben, is an amazing, multi-talented man who also happens to be dyslexic.
Ben is a huge fan of my tutoring, and he is also rather envious of my students! He didn't realize he was dyslexic until he was an adult. So he never received tutoring when he was growing up.
Ben frequently reflects, “If only I had received help like yours when I was growing up, it would have opened up so many doors for me. Your students are so lucky!"
I wish I could travel back in time and give him what I give my students!
I have an adventurous, water-loving soul!
I have spent a great deal of time in and around water. We even 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 in a small, rural town. It's beautiful here! Instead of seeing seals and water outside my window, I see horses and pastureland...an equally delightful sight.
I thoroughly enjoy nature and animals.
I love spending my free time exploring the outdoors. I enjoy walking our dog, 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 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.