ORLANDO, Fla. – One in five people has dyslexia, and now a school in downtown Orlando is offering a specialized curriculum for dyslexic learners.
The Bridge, located within The Christ School, is described by administrators as a school-within-a-school, designed specifically for students with a primary diagnosis of dyslexia.
Alissa Plaisance, director of The Bridge and student support, said the program is for students who have trouble with phonetic decoding or the spelling pieces of learning how to read.
“But along with those challenges, they also have so many gifts and talents and strengths,” she said, adding that teachers at The Bridge are highly trained in the Orton Gillingham Approach.
“It is prescriptive and diagnostic. It is multisensory,” she said. “So teaching them to either tap sounds out or remember the rules that we have explicitly taught them, that is one way we help them be able to attack any work, even if it’s multisyllabic words once they get in to much heavier science and social studies and being able to decode anything. It’s really considered the gold standard for teaching (the subject of) reading, whether you have dyslexia or not.”
Classes offer one-to-10 student ratios, with smaller breakout groups for Orton Gillingham and math instruction. Students, like fourth-grader Sophia Sapp, say the small groups and teaching methods are a big change from her previous school.
“At my old school, I would be really scared to read. Anytime you would do reading out loud, I would just hide under, like, ‘Don’t look at me. Please no.’ But now when my teacher would be, like, ‘Who wants to read this?’ I’d be, ‘Me!’” Sapp said.
Plaisance says one of the biggest joys of her job is seeing students transform after starting the program.
“I think that happens because it becomes a flywheel of affect of when you teach them the right way, we see everything change: their self confidence, their ability to read, their fluency,” she said. “We really try and normalize the word dyslexia and not whisper about it so they know there’s nothing to be ashamed of, that they have so many gifts and talents. And while we are working so hard to remediate those parts and pieces that are challenging for them, they will be just fine.”
Plaisance says the program currently has a wait list for certain grade levels. However if you would like a tour or more information, you can visit The Christ School online for more information.