Ruth Van Sciver

Parent of a graduate of Karen’s program

There are so many ways that Karen helped our son that it is hard to know where to begin!


The Barton program is an wonderful tool, and interested people can look on the Barton website to find out more about it specifically. But Karen's teaching is much more than just implementing this excellent program. What I want to share is Karen's influence above and beyond the Barton program. 


Karen tutored our dyslexic son, Cyrus, for 3.5 years, (from mid 4th grade to end of 7th grade) using not only the Barton program, but supplementing it with many other tools and techniques that she has developed over her extensive teaching career.


Let me start with advocacy. From the get-go and continually thereafter, Karen helped Cy understand he was not alone, and many important and respected dyslexic people were and are tremendously successful. She explained how struggling with dyslexia actually helped some of these people ultimately succeed.


Karen encouraged Cy to advocate for himself. In 4th grade, Cy's teacher asked students to swap papers to review spelling tests. It was embarrassing for Cy to have a fellow student look at his paper, when he had so many wrong answers. Karen suggested Cy ask to be partnered with a trusted friend. With a short note from me, Cy was able to negotiate with the teacher to implement this.


As a parent, Karen helped me to advocate for Cyrus as well.  She gave me advice on what kinds of
accommodations were reasonable to ask for from the school. For example, she suggested that Cyrus not be graded on spelling, and that he get extra time on tests. When he was younger she suggested he sit in the front of the room, so that he not be distracted by other students.


Knowing these were common accommodations for dyslexic students, was extremely helpful to
me. Discussing Cy’s progress with Karen took some of the stress off our family. We were more confident that we were doing the right things to help our son succeed in the long run.


Cy's friend even came to several of his tutoring sessions to see what this tutoring was all about! 

Karen employs all sorts of creative, interesting ways to encourage learning and assist her students with their memory challenges. Music, color, movement, art, games, and catchy slogans are just some of her enormous arsenal of techniques.


Karen’s professional experience allows her to craft lessons that are customized specifically for each individual. She cares about her students and has the whole person in mind. With Cyrus, she took an interest in his extra curricular activities and even attended some of his school theater performances. 


Self-esteem is something that dyslexic students struggle with. The constant pressure in school and associated frustration that dyslexic students have is well known. Karen was a wonderful confidant for our son, boosting his self-esteem in such positive ways. Cyrus learned that if he had an issue in school, he could bring it to the tutoring session and work it out with Karen. I had the benefit of listening in and later helping Cy to remember to utilize her suggestions. Karen helped Cy to “own” his dyslexia and discuss it freely with his teachers rather than to be ashamed of it. 


Karen knows how to celebrate success! When Cy completed each level in the Barton program, she sang "Happy Graduation!" to him on the piano and presented Cy with a decorated award. We all celebrated!


Cy is now a successful, hardworking junior in high school. He is taking AP courses, maintaining a high GPA, studying for the SAT tests, exercising leadership as captain of the water polo team, and in general is a well adjusted high school student. He reads well, albeit slower than most people. The one accommodation he still
needs is extra time on some tests, and this he is able to negotiate with the school staff himself without our help. We are enormously proud of him, his hard work, and his successes.


Our son would not be succeeding like he is today without Karen’s expert tutoring program.

408-504-4435

Karen Isaacson © 2020