Summit Academy student read 13,000 pages to beat out 5,000 competitors in Great Reading Games
Story from the Westminster Window
A Westminster fifth-grader with dyslexia rose above her disorder to top 5,000 other students with learning
challenges in the annual Great Reading Games contest.
Jeffco Schools student Ann Worthley finished first in the nationwide competition, sponsored by Learning Ally, a national nonprofit organization serving students and individuals with print-based reading disorders like dyslexia or disabilities such as blindness or visual impairment.
Worthley was honored by Learning Ally Colorado Student Success Manager Natasha Fortis March 31 at a ceremony at Summit Academy in Westminster.
Dyslexia is a reading disorder affecting 8.5 million school children in the United States, or about one in every five. The disorder dramatically impacts a person’s ability to read, and children with dyslexia can often be on the outside looking in when it comes to reading contests or book clubs.
The struggle is not with being dyslexic, but trying to fit into a system that is made for people with a brain that automatically processes the written word,” said Ann’s mother, Becky Worthley. “That is the struggle.”
Worthley said her daughter struggled in particular after her diagnosis and was at one point pulled from school.
“I never would have attempted to bring Ann home without the support of Summit (Academy) and her reading teacher Mrs. (Angela) Dormish,” she said. “What was traumatic for Ann was changing from five days a week of school to one day. The change was hard to make but I believed it was the most beneficial educational choice for her.”
Since that time, Worthley, along with the nearly 5,000 other students competing in this year’s Great Reading Games, have been able to overcome dyslexia and other learning disorders by downloading audio textbooks, works of fiction and non-fiction and other literary titles offered through Learning Ally to tablets, computers, smartphones and similar devices. Once downloaded, students with learning disorders can read along with the audio recording.
“Before Learning Ally, I watched my friends read a book in a week, while it took me up to three months to get through the same book,” Worthley said. Now, she reads at every chance, whether it’s in the car or while washing dishes.
“Learning Ally is my friend now,” added Worthley, who read more than 13,000 pages as part of the competition.
Her mother said it has also served as the great equalizer.
“With Learning Ally and other technology the playing field can be greatly leveled,” she said, who lauded Jeffco Schools for having educational options at Summit Academy like Learning Ally and Susan Barton, a tutoring system for people with trouble spelling, reading, and writing due to dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
Learning Ally offers more than 82,000 narrated titles that can be accessed on devices everywhere. The program is used by more than 10,000 schools in the country.
Denver Public Schools employs the Learning Ally program in more than 200 of its schools, where it benefits more than 7,500 students. The Roman Archdiocese of Denver has also recently partnered with Learning Ally to bring the program to its 36 schools next year.
Jefferson County schools also announced an extended partnership with Learning Ally that will provide audio book access to 11 more schools in the district beginning in 2016-17. That expansion was funded by the Jeffco Schools Foundation, according to Diane Wilson, chief communications officer for Jeffco Public Schools.
Worthley received additional tutoring assistance and support through the YES! Program, a nationwide mentoring and advocacy program for students with learning disorders. The program pairs students with learning difficulties — one younger, one older. The older student, or youth ambassador, is trained to guide the younger student by monitoring member progress and acting as a resource.
Worthly will continue her celebration as winner of the Great Reading Games at Learning Ally’s student success celebration at 9 a.m. April 9 at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway in Denver. Worthly and fellow YES! Program participants will take in a play, “Meet the Dyslexians,” and participants will have the opportunity to record their own audio books.
For more information, go online to www.learningally.org/studentcelebratio