The Olentangy Local School District received another form of validation recently for its work toward helping students overcome the challenges they face when it comes to learning. In December, the district announced it had received accreditation from Orton-Gillingham (O-G) for its training program for students with dyslexia and those who require reading assistance.
Orton-Gillingham utilizes a multisensory approach — including sight, hearing, touch and movement — that was developed by renowned neuropsychiatrist and pathologist Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist. Orton pioneered the study of learning disabilities, particularly reading failure and difficulties in language processing. Gillingham’s expertise was in training teachers and creating instructional materials.
For more than 50 years, the Orton-Gillingham approach has been the leader in programs addressing dyslexia in both children and adults.
In its letter to OLSD, the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators stated, “The Academy is gratified that Olentangy is giving full visibility and prominence to the Orton-Gillingham approach. We are confident that this decision will serve Olentangy and student interests as the Academy well knows that the Orton-Gillingham approach, in the hands of well-trained and experienced practitioners, is a teaching intervention of extraordinary power.”
According to a statement on the district’s website, OLSD had been working toward the accreditation for three years. Thirty-two district staff members are currently certified in the program, and 35 more are in training. Over 700 students within the district currently receive Orton-Gillingham instruction.
OLSD Dyslexia Specialist Holly Robbertz said the district first began working with the O-G approach in 2012 when teachers began receiving training. Now, Robbertz said all new intervention specialist hires are expected to complete the first 30 hours of O-G training, and the district is building toward having certified intervention specialist in all 24 school buildings.
“We’re very fortunate because we have very strong administrative support backing (the intervention specialists),” Robbertz said of the district’s emphasis on meeting the needs of its students.
While the accreditation, itself, is rewarding, OLSD also set a standard for public school districts near and far as it became the first public school district in the country to become accredited by Orton-Gillingham.
Superintendent Mark Raiff specifically thanked Chief Academic Officer Jack Fette and Director of Pupil Services Marty Arganbright for their work during his presentation at the Olentangy Locals Schools Board of Education’s first meeting of 2019 on Jan. 10.
Board Vice President Mindy Patrick said of the accreditation, “We’re doing work that colleges of education are not. It’s a pretty big deal.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.