ABOUT


MARION


I am an English Major with an MBA, and I have spent my career in educational publishing. I am a parent of a gifted child with a reading difference, which makes me an accidental advocate. Like most of the families that I meet, I am willing to do whatever it takes to create a path that allows our daughter to find happiness, success and to follow her dreams. I live in Albany, New York with my wife Tiana, our daughter Isabella, our cats, Izzy and Agnes and our dog Mason. When I’m not writing, I enjoy running, biking, trying local craft beers, and taking long walks and hikes off trail with Mason.

WHY I’M DOING THIS


Seven years-ago when our daughter was first diagnosed with a language disability or difference I thought that the clouds had cleared and the sun had risen. She would finally get the help she needed, and her reading would improve and maybe even advance to grade-level. What I didn’t know then, and what most families of kids with reading differences learn, is that getting an Independent Evaluation Plan (IEP ) and an assessment from the school district is only the first step in a long, unchartered path to obtain services. As I spoke with more and more families, it became apparent that there is a need for centralized information, community, resources, and a way to get our stories told. It is my hope that our stories will shed some light on this world that is largely unknown, and that Teach My Kid to Read will contribute to better solutions for gifted kids with reading differences.


HOW DID I GET HERE?


In the spring of 2017 I was sitting in the waiting room of Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital while my daughter had her speech assessments. A few weeks earlier I had made the decision to leave my career in educational publishing. For the past decade, I had been a partner in a small business that provided courseware and editorial services to the education market. I had weathered the transition from print to digital and was contemplating where we fit as the industry itself transformed into educational technology. I felt like I needed to take some time to consider what I wanted to do, or if I even wanted to stay in the industry. I did know that if I wanted to be relevant and to also keep my antiquated MBA current, I needed some new skills. As a start, I enrolled in a blog/social media course.

Sitting in the waiting room, I turned on my computer and spread out my work as I had done so many times before. Over the past several years, I had spent countless hours doing work wherever I could find a spot while my daughter received her reading services. This time my work was homework for the social media course and I was supposed to write a blog post. I decided that I would create my dream job and perhaps start a blog about running and beer, two of my favorite things. Sitting there though, I felt overwhelmed with frustration, sadness, helplessness, but also determination. I had no interest writing about running or beer. I felt compelled to write about our story and reading differences, and I submitted the post to my instructor and told her this is my accidental blog, which I initially called The Accidental Advocate.

Once I started writing and thinking about our experience and other people’s experiences in the world of disabilities, reading differences, etc. I found that I had more and more ideas and more things to say. And now, the more people I talk with, the more I realize that we can start to solve the myriad issues we all face just by working together. We need to gather momentum and educate as many people as we can that there are really, really smart kids out there that deserve to be taught in a way that they can learn. There is so much that we can do!


ABOUT TEACH MY KID TO READ


There is a line in Horton Hears a Who! when all the people of Whoville band together and keep shouting “We Are Here! We Are Here!” They need to be heard to save their tiny planet and to validate Horton’s assertion that a planet of tiny people indeed exists on a speck of a weed. And there we were! A bunch of parents dropped together in the middle of a rural part of Northern Duchess County trying to figure it out. There was a woman from Australia who had a challenge finding appropriate services in Australia and wanted her son to be around “regular” kids with dyslexia. There was a woman from Tampa and her son, who became my roommate for a few weeks, who essentially got accepted to Camp Dunnabeck, packed it all up and needed to figure out where to stay for a couple of weeks. There was another woman and her young son camping nearby while her husband stayed home with their daughter. The stories go on, especially for us newbies. There we stood, on a hill overlooking the pristine Hudson Valley/Berkshire countryside all hoping we had found the place that could teach our kids to read not by taking away their summer, but by giving them an enriching social experience as well as the reading skills we all truly hoped we had found.

Obtaining services for kids with reading differences should be less challenging and more accessible. Ensuring kids with reading differences who work so hard at times with much more effort compared to typical students to have a well-deserved, quintessential summer should not be an exception. Teach my Kid to Read will tell the stories of families with kids with reading differences to share best practices, raise awareness and help each other make better decisions. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Feel free to contact us to share your story.


TEACH MY KID TO READ is a labor of love and as such, where we go with this initiative has no bounds.


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