Author Archives: Jen Rhett

Raise a Racket benefits REAP, August 22, 2015 – tickets available now

This year Raise A Racket will benefit Reading is Essential for All People (REAP).


More information & purchase tickets – RAISEARACKET.NET

Saturday, August 22nd

Do you have your team yet? Gather your friends and RAISE A RACKET while we raise money for REAP that goes directly back to local education and teachers in Roswell & North Fulton. We will have exclusive use of the ten beautiful courts at Brookfield with 6-person teams this year – Competitive & Social Divisions available. Get more information & purchase TENNIS TICKETS here.

And as fun as the tennis will be….you won’t want to miss the Totally 80s Party & Auction that night! Tickets available for the PARTY ONLY if you don’t play during the day. You can still “Raise A Racket” and support local education at the PARTY OF THE YEAR. Click here to purchase PARTY TICKETS only!


We are Looking for local business owners who have heart for education and would love to support an amazing cause while getting great advertisement for their company. We are looking for Raise A Racket Corporate Sponsorships & also need awesome donations for our Silent Auction. If you can help contact us at for more information.

Contact us at for more information about the event.

REAP Orton-Gillingham Summer Training Dates Released

Teacher Application Deadline is March 2, 2015.

Dates for Summer Courses:

June 1-5:  Classroom Educator, Location TBD

June 8-12: Classroom Educator, The Swift School

June 15-19:  Associate (only available if you have already taken the Classroom Educator 30-hour Course)

June 22-26:  Classroom Educator, Location TBD

All dates are contingent on funding and demand.  July dates may be added.

Classroom Educator and Associate Level Fall-Spring course dates and locations should be available in March.

Click here to complete an application

REAP presents The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to struggle with reading?

Kicking off the REAP for Roswell initiative, Reading is Essential for All People (REAP), is excited to announce the viewing of the HBO documentary by Director James Redford, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. The admission to this Sundance Film Festival movie will be free to the public.

REAP is hosting the event in a lively and engaging environment with the goal of raising awareness of the breadth and impact of reading challenges. They hope to inspire members of the community and school system to work together toward reading proficiency for all.  These efforts are currently working to serve Mountain Park Elementary and Mimosa Elementary teachers with future plans for opportunities at additional Fulton County schools.

Join us for the HBO Documentary that The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed as “fascinating, straightforward and revealing” and “exemplary” educational filmmaking.  The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia offers hope and insight for teachers, parents and students who are dealing with learning challenges.  Students struggle with reading, writing and spelling for many reasons, including dyslexia, which affects 20% of our population.  This film follows the individual journeys of ordinary students (as well as some famous and successful adults) as they confront dyslexia.  Watch the movie trailer at:

There will be a follow-up discussion panel with Q & A that will review proven and effective solutions for improving reading proficiency.

Free to the public and families are welcome.

Seating is limited, click here to reserve your seat today!

Donations are welcome

This event is hosted by Reading is Essential for All People (REAP).  REAP provides public school teachers with specialized training that reinforces the foundations of reading.  These training approaches are helpful for any child, in any classroom, small group, or one-on-one situation, and are especially critical for struggling readers.

A huge thank you to Blessed Trinity High School for providing the perfect location for this screening.

Improving Reading Proficiency through public school teacher training and enrichment – 2015 Information for REAP course applicants

66% of 4th graders in Georgia are not reading proficiently.  32% of those students are not even reading at a basic level. (NAEP 2013)


Reading is Essential for All People (REAP) is working to improve that statistic.  We are dedicated to improving reading proficiency through public school teacher training and enrichment.  We provide teachers with specialized training that reinforces the foundations of reading.  These approaches are helpful for any child, in any classroom, and are especially critical for struggling readers.  The best way to positively impact reading proficiency in public school students is through their passionate and dedicated teachers.


REAP funds Orton-Gillingham Methodology training for public school teachers.  This approach to reading instruction focuses on reading fundamentals. The theory combines multi-sensory techniques to develop phonemic awareness skills, spelling, writing and comprehension.  Our nationally recognized instructors are highly qualified and passionate about the students you teach every day.  Any public school teacher in the Metro Atlanta area can apply for our free professional development.

Teacher Selection

The teachers will be chosen to participate in the program based on experience, application detail, grade level, and colleague referrals. It is important to train teachers who will be an inspiration and mentor to those within their schools.  Our program participants, during and after training, will be part of an ongoing support group that will continue to meet and share ideas, implementations, and successes.

Training Options and Course Description for Orton-Gillingham

Dates for Summer Courses:

June 1-5:  Classroom Educator, Location TBD

June 8-12: Classroom Educator, The Swift School

June 15-19:  Associate Level, The Swift School (only available if you have already taken the Classroom Educator 30-hour Course)

June 22-26:  Classroom Educator, Location TBD

All dates are contingent on funding and demand.  July dates may be added.

Classroom Educator and Associate Level Fall-Spring course dates and locations should be available in March.

Classroom Educator Course:

The Classroom Educator training is a 30 hour course (12 sessions, twice monthly Oct. – April or one full week during the summer) with the option of a 50-hour practicum.

The Classroom Educator Level Course addresses:

•     Characteristics of Dyslexia related to typical development of reading and writing

•     The principles of the Orton-Gillingham Approach

•     History and structure of the English Language

•     How to teach decoding

•     Syllable types and syllabication

•     Strategies for reading comprehension and written expression

•     Teaching strategies and lesson planning for effective remediation

Associate Level Course:

The Associate Level training is a 70-hour course (1 night per week, Sept. – May or two full weeks during the summer) with the option of a 50-hour or 100-hour practicum.

The Associate Level Course addresses:

•     Dyslexia and related brain research

•     General history and structure of the English language

•     Phonological awareness

•     Sound/symbol relationships for reading and spelling

•     Six syllable types and seven ways to divide words into syllables

•     Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Greek word parts

•     Spelling rules and generalizations

•     “Learned” or non-phonetic words

•     Advanced decoding skills

•     Scope/sequence and lesson planning

•     Teaching strategies and development of teaching materials


Here is what the teachers we trained have to say:

“I feel like for the last 16 years of teaching literacy that I have needed the understandings of language and ways to tackle those struggling readers in a direct way that this training has provided for me.”

“I now have a better understanding that ALL students, not just struggling readers, need this piece to be successful readers AND writers.”

What was lacking from my reading lessons was the mechanics of the language.  This training has completed my reading puzzle!”

“I feel like this was the missing link between what I knew about reading instruction and what my struggling readers truly needed to be successful.”

” This training has strengthened my ability to diagnose what individual students are struggling with as readers and how I can help them overcome that gap.”

“All teachers deserve to know about this approach.  Without it, many students will slip through the cracks or move up the grades without the appropriate reading assistance to be successful readers.”

“I have been blown away by the effectiveness of this approach.”

“Theses strategies can be implemented to push students who are high achievers as well as giving those struggling readers the support to become successful.”

If you are a public school teacher and are interested in applying for the course, click here for the application.


Decatur Dyslexia Network Meeting: Psychoeducational Evaluation Open to Parents, Educators, and Community Members

Decatur Dyslexia Network Meeting: Psychoeducational Evaluation
Open to Parents, Educators, and Community Members

Date: Sunday, 11/16/2014
Time: 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Cognitive ability, phonological processing, oral reading fluency, reading comprehension, written expression, visual motor skills, attention/concentration, executive functioning. We’ve heard the terms, but what do they tell us?

When determining whether a child has learning challenges or attention issues, we all know there’s a lot of testing involved. Dr. Jennifer Keith (psychologist and Decatur resident) will help us understand the psychoeducational evaluation process, including testing and diagnosis, working with a school, and how to approach interventions with children.

Location: Decatur First United Methodist Church (Room 101, the Gathering Room) 300 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030.

How to Help My Struggling Reader: The Orton-Gillingham Approach

How to Help My Struggling Reader:

The Orton-Gillingham Approach

By:  Jennifer McCullough M.S. CCC-SLP

Late one night, I found my 9-year old daughter hiding under her covers with a flashlight reading “one last chapter”. Though I scolded her to turn her light off and go to bed, I went away smiling. She has what I call the “reading bug” and I count my lucky stars.  Throughout my career most of my clients have had to battle to be able to read. As a result, very rarely do these children read because it is fun. These struggles happen way too often.

In fact, reading difficulties are the most common cause of academic failure and underachievement.  According to the International Dyslexia Association, between 15-20% of young students suffer from reading and language processing weaknesses and, unless those weaknesses are recognized early and successfully treated, they are headed for academic failure. Another 20-30% are at risk for inadequate reading and writing development, depending on how well, and how, they are taught. Ironically, due to specific criteria, most of these children are ineligible for special education services and are dependent on the instruction given by their classroom teacher or services outside the school.

How can we help? First, having a better understanding of how typical students learn to read is key, as well as an idea of what might be going wrong for struggling readers. Many language processes must be coordinated to allow for fluent reading. Researchers have discovered that auditory processing (the ability to process what you hear), plays a critical role in learning to read, write and spell.  In fact, one area of auditory processing, termed phonological processing, is clearly implicated as the most common cause of reading disabilities or dyslexia.  Phonological processing is the ability to detect and discriminate differences in phonemes or speech sounds. When kindergarten children are given phonological processing tasks, their performance is remarkably predictive of how well they will read several years later.

Three kinds of phonological processing appear to be most important when learning to read: phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid naming. Phonological awareness is the ability to access and manipulate the sound structure of language.  Examples are: knowing the sounds that letters make or your ability to rhyme two similar words. Phonological memory is your ability to temporarily store information in working or short-term memory. Rapid naming is the ability to quickly name numbers, letters, colors, or objects. Weakness in rapid naming affects fluency or speed of mental processing.

Basically for someone to read “cat” for the first time, they have to recognize the letters, remember the sound the letter makes, hold those sounds in short-term and working memory and, finally, blend the sounds rapidly together to read the word.

What does all of this mean? All students need to learn phonics! Children that have trouble attending, or with memory or with being able to rapidly name objects, letters or numbers have many roadblocks to becoming successful readers.  It’s even more important for this group to have direct phonics instruction.  Do you know what kids without these issues do when they are not directly taught phonics? They teach it to themselves. They need to do this in order to be able to decode words they have never seen and cannot guess based on pictures and context.  These students may learn to read but they are not taught spelling rules, and generalizations and are often poor spellers.

In addition, it is vital that we identify children who may have difficulties with memory, naming, and phonological awareness skills as early as possible. Training these children to learn compensatory strategies to help improve these skills will directly improve their capability to learn to read. Professionals such as speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are uniquely trained how to teach these strategies. Some compensatory memory strategies might include teaching rehearsal (i.e. repeating back specific items) and visualizing (i.e. making a mental picture). Playing the “I Spy” game can help with rapid naming difficulties by giving the kids a method of describing words they may find difficult to retrieve. Reading rhyming books, singing rhyming songs and playing around with sounds in words are examples of activities that can encourage phonological awareness skills to develop.

What’s the best way to teach phonics?  Back in the 1930s a neurologist (Samuel Orton) came together with an educator and psychologist (Anna Gillingham) and created an intensive, sequential phonics-based system called The Orton-Gillingham Approach to reading instruction. This theory is based on neuroscience research that shows if children are taught to read using all four pathways with which we learn – visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic – they achieve more success.

Using this multi-sensory approach can help all students, those that have no reading roadblocks mentioned above. However, it is imperative that the “at risk” children are taught this way because they can receive the information through all of the neurological pathways that is best for them to learn. For example, if a child is having trouble remembering “c” says “k”, then pairing the letter “c” with a visually appealing picture (visual pathway) or tracing the letter in the sand as they say the sound (tactile pathway) may work better than only saying the sound (kinesthetic and auditory pathways).

There are many programs based on the Orton-Gillingham approach.  It is not a “pre-packaged” program that can be directly purchased.  Properly providing this type of instruction requires intensive and costly training.  Atlanta is lucky to have a great program that offers training to teachers, parents and professionals at a local, well renowned, private institution called The Schenck School, a private school for students with dyslexia. Here in Decatur, a foundation has been created to help fund tuition for local teachers interested in taking this course. This foundation is called “REAP”or “Reading is Essential for All People”. 

Read Between the Lines

Combine a love of art with a love of reading

In recognition of National Dyslexia Month, the respected art gallery R Alexander Fine Art is producing  an exhibition entitled “Reading Between the Lines”.  The exhibition dates are October 4-November 7, with a reception on October 17, 6:30-10PM.  The group of featured artists’ work emphasize conceptualism as a visual language.

All sales from the exhibition will benefit a collaboration between REAP and The Schenck School to train public school teachers in the foundations of reading instruction.

Bring a friend!  The event is free and open to all who would like to attend.  Click here for more information.


Michelle Nunn steps up with a $1000 donation to REAP and challenges others to join her!

Nunn with Jeremy and JenA huge thanks to Senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn for taking the time to meet with us last week.  Michelle wanted to learn more about the challenges small businesses like CertaPro Painters face and how we are working to positively impact Georgia public school students through Reading is Essential for All People (REAP).

Michelle has a dyslexic child and recognizes the need for additional professional development in the foundations of reading for our public school teachers.  Michelle challenges others to donate to improve the odds for struggling readers in GA.  Michelle donated $1000 to REAP in support of a struggling student.  That $1000 will provide 100 hours of critical intervention for a student who would not otherwise have access to this type of remediation.

Michelle Nunn has a successful and inspiring background in the non-profit world and we appreciate her desire to understand our small business and what we need from Washington as well as offering wonderful advice on growing our non-profit to help public school students across Georgia.

Thank you for your time Michelle!

Jeremy’s Swim, Bike, Run for REAP training update August 1, 2014

This week’s training log…

Venetian 1 Venetian 3 Venetian 4 Venetian 6 Venetian 7 Venetian

Saturday, 7/26/14

6 mile run. Nice, fast start to the run. Realized 2 miles in that my “Map My Run” app wasn’t running. No bragging rights for sub-7-minute miles if you can’t show proof! Hmph.

Sunday, 7/27/14

44 mile bike ride with buddies from the neighborhood. An appropriate amount of praise was received for my new bike, helmet, and other stuff. Bob criticized my biking jersey for being a boxy “club” jersey instead of the more svelte “racing” jersey. Who knew? Great ride – I was able to keep up with the pack and sometimes lead. Pretty fatigued at the end, but not totally destroyed as I was after the prior weekend’s 52 miler.

After the 44 mile bike ride I changed into running gear and did a 2 mile run to help my body learn how to handle the transition from bike to road running.

Monday, 7/28/14            

Drove to the Venetian Pools for an early morning 6AM swim. It’s great slipping into the water when it’s still dark outside.

Tuesday, 7/29/14            

Up at 5:00AM. At Pinnacle Fitness Bootcamp by 5:30AM. This sort of thing is not on most triathlon training plans, but I swear it makes me a faster runner. I dropped 30 lbs last year doing this sort of thing, so that’s not bad, right?

Wednesday, 7/30/14

Up at 5:10AM. Gear up with bike jersey, tri-shorts(not quite swim-suit, not quite biking shorts – a little of both), bike shoes, helmet. Toss some goggles and swim cap in my jersey pockets. The 3 mile ride to the pool goes quickly. Fortunately, there’s little traffic on the roads at this time as I still can’t bring myself to buy more gear in the form of bike lights. At the pool it’s just me, one woman in the middle swim lane, and two teenagers who run the place. See pictures below. The reward of the early morning swim comes from watching the scenery change as the sun comes up. At first it’s dark, then a gradual twilight blooms into a blue sky morning. It gives you the sense of bringing on the dawn through your efforts in the pool. I swim a little over a mile with some sprints thrown in for good measure, then bike back home. I’m loving this workout and hate that summer will come to a close in the not-too-distant future.

See Jeremy’s full story here.

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