Kind Words from New Jersey Teachers
Those of you who are responding to our ad in the New Jersey LDA newsletter may want to check out this article from our own Food For Thought.
Recent Article from Spring 2007:
Some Wonderful Teachers from New Jersey
The Stevenson Program is being used in a variety of grades with a variety of students in both general and special education. We are especially happy to be helping students who would otherwise struggle with reading and spelling. So from time to time we will use Food For Thought to highlight a variety of schools where teachers are helping children succeed. In this issue we focus on some teachers in Montgomery Township Schools where Special Education Director Matt Lembo is making sure “no child left behind” is not just a slogan. If you would like to see pictures of their “Stevenson” classrooms, please check out our web site.
Over the past two years the Montgomery Township school district located in Skillman, NJ has infused the Stevenson Language Skills Program into all of their primary and intermediate LLD classes (Language and Learning Disabilities). Matthew Lembo, District Director of Special Services, spearheaded the transition by hiring Georgianna Wood, a private educational consultant and Stevenson trainer. Mr. Lembo should be applauded first for his serious commitment to students with serious problems. He should also be applauded for an excellent training model. His teachers were supplied with all needed materials and trained in small groups. Then Georgie Wood was brought in to visit classrooms several times, at which point she provided demonstration lessons and answered questions. Both Matt and Georgie agree that the teachers and instructional aides deserve enormous credit. They are a special group of women and their dedication, expertise, and enthusiasm has translated into success for their students. Georgie asked each of the teachers to comment on their use of the program to date.
Kelly O’Connell writes: “I teach the fifth and sixth grade LLD class. The Stevenson Language Skills Program provides my students with a phonics-based teaching method that has worked wonders. They are able to recall the peanut butter and jelly friends and all of the simple stories that are incorporated into each lesson. The students get excited to play the Stevenson games and we have also made several of our own games, (Stevenson Bingo, Umbrella Raindrop, Where are the Eyes, and Fill the Barrels). As a teacher this is an extremely exciting program where you live your words in every activity, and you can really form a bond with the program and your students. My aide, Kathy Restuccia, and I have transformed our classroom into a Stevenson Reading Sea. If you would like to see what we have done, a photograph will be available on the Stevenson web site.”
Lisa Kontros writes: “I am a fifth and sixth grade LLD teacher. My students have difficulty learning in a traditional classroom setting due to challenges with encoding, decoding, and/or processing information. They are further challenged in the areas of visual memory, auditory memory, and word retrieval. The Stevenson Program provides my students with phonics mixed with a twist of humor and mnemonics that help them comprehend. The silly skits about the peanut butter and jelly friends engage the students and allow the vowel teams to be remembered. I have seen a positive difference in my students’ reading ability. I know it and so do they.”
Jamie Acheson writes: “I am the Learning and Language Disabilities teacher for first and second grades. My class is composed of students who are functioning at least two years below grade level academically, as well as are presented with other difficulties that prohibit them from being successful in the general education classroom. Such disabilities include but are not limited to: processing, spatial, sensory, attention, behavioral, and motor, both fine and gross problems. The Stevenson Program has been a savior for these students. Many were not able to identify sounds, let alone decode words, before being exposed to the program. They are learning the strategies that Stevenson introduces for decoding and encoding, and applying this knowledge effectively. They love hearing about the crazy peanut butter and jelly friends and enjoy coming up with their own scenarios as a spin off to the stories. This program has given these students the tools necessary for them to begin the reading and writing process, but most importantly, it has given them the opportunity to develop confidence that only success can give.”
Amy Mintz writes: “I have just started using the Stevenson program this school year with a group of seventh and eight grade students in a self contained LLD classroom. What I particularly like about this program is that it supplies all the structure and tools necessary to implement dynamic spelling, reading, vocabulary, and writing lessons, while it also allows for teacher creativity and a pace that is learner driven.”
Cherylann Brown writes: “The Stevenson Read-ing Program has become an integral part of the Village Elementary School Language and Learning Disabilities class this year. I currently teach students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Apraxia, Cognitive Disabilities and Communications Impairments. Stevenson has made a huge impact on the academic lives of my students. The mnemonic strategies and consistency in multisensory instruction has been the perfect approach to use with my students. I have watched students in my class transform from nonreaders to beginning and fluent readers.
Matt Lembo writes “As director of pupil services I see a great deal of literature that comes across my desk describing the latest approach to working with struggling students. I have finally found the right programs at the right time with the right trainer. The Stevenson Reading Program and the Semple Math Program are the perfect match for my neediest students in Kindergarten through Eighth grade. The programs are neatly packaged and easily understood by teachers. I appreciate the flexibility they allow the teachers to seize teachable moments and spend the necessary time addressing areas of need.”
“Although the programs are well designed and presented, Georgie Wood is the difference maker. She has connected with my staff through her experience and positive outlook. She challenges everyone around her to be better while valuing the children and believing in this approach. Her passion and attitude are infectious, and she helps this program work to it’s fullest potential. I recommend Georgie without hesitation. She has been one of the best things that has happened to this District in a long time.”
[Editor’s Note: We completely concur with Mr. Lembo about Georgie, and we would also like to mention that all of our trainers receive wonderful compliments. Recently we received a call about Nancy Ziehme, our senior trainer. The caller described her workshop as “just beautiful.” This is just one of the compliments our trainers receive on a regular basis.]
Bill Stevenson writes: “I am the general manager of Stevenson Learning Skills. You cannot know how important it is for us here, and for me in particular, to read these comments. Nancy Stevenson (my mother) spent most of her life trying to help people who were struggling with reading, and it is exciting to see her work alive and well.”