Whether it's encouraging employees to give back, hosting charitable giving campaigns, or working with educators who change learning for life on a global level, our mission never wavers. We believe in giving back and building partnerships that make a difference for those in need. Here are some of the ways we make a difference.
Gander Publishing is proud to have partnered with Save the Children (STC) through a Giving Campaign that made a difference in the lives of children here at home and around the globe. By donating a percentage of sales, we helped STC carry out its mission of investing in children every day, in times of crisis and for our future. By transforming children's lives now, we change the course of their future and ours.
In the United States and around the world, STC is dedicated to ensuring that every child has the best chance for success. Its pioneering programs give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Their advocacy efforts provide a voice for children who cannot speak for themselves. As the leading expert on children, STC inspires and achieves lasting impact for millions of the world's most vulnerable girls and boys. In 2013 alone, STC reached 38,000 American children with early education and 150,000 children with literacy programs.
Since 1995, Gander has produced instructional resources based on the theory of cognition. We have profoundly contributed to best practices in language, literacy, and math instruction, and we are proud of the life-changing impact our programs have had on so many.
Gander Publishing and Lindamood-Bell offer opportunities for employees to give back through payroll deductions to the following charities: Save the Children and Operation Surf.
We are honored to work with educators who share our passion for improving the lives of students. The life-changing stories we hear, daily, wouldn't be possible without the hard work and dedication of these "high flyers" who implement our programs in the classroom, in offices, and homes around the world. They get to make a difference for a lot of students, and we get to play a part in that. Lucky us!
Special Education: Revolving Door or Trap Door?
By Kellyn Ross
I once heard former Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Robert Pasternack talk about how special education services had become a trap door for students. Rather than a revolving door, where they could come in, get remediated, and exit, the new norm seemed to be a life sentence of interventions that didn't work. I thought about this recently when one of our students exited special education after receiving the precise help he desperately needed. Through a literacy grant from the Colorado Department of Education, our district was able to partner with Lindamood-Bell to bring in programs that remediate reading difficulties and disabilities. I'm proud to say that we can truly offer a path for students to get out of special education and succeed academically.
Here is one success story from many that we've experienced:
Braeden is a vibrant, intelligent, and wonderfully curious little boy who was placed into special education during his kindergarten year. At that time he struggled with his articulation, fine motor skills, and literacy.
Teacher Ashly Arroyo working with Braeden on a Seeing Stars® lesson.
Braeden has multiple strengths such as his vast amount of background knowledge, high level vocabulary, and curiosity around problem solving. Braeden was able to identify all of his letters and make correct letter/sound associations in isolation but when it came to reading in context he was unable to put those skills to work together. This became increasingly frustrating for him because he was very aware that he wasn't progressing in the way he would've liked.
When he got to 1st grade, he was still struggling to meet grade-level expectations and avoid reading tasks in school. The initial Lindamood-Bell battery of assessments was completed in April of his 1st grade year. The scores showed that while he had word attack skills equivalent to mid-first grade, he was essentially a non-reader because he was unable to decode with fluency in context. His sight word reading and spelling skills were that of a kindergarten student.
Immediately following the testing, Braeden began receiving 45 minutes per day of Seeing Stars instruction. By the end of 1st grade, he was starting to develop more confidence and fluency with his decoding skills. During the summer before 2nd grade, his family worked diligently with him to continue his progress. His parents have always been incredibly supportive and have been key players in helping him reach his goals! In 2nd grade, Braeden was placed in a Seeing Stars small group for 90 minutes per day. Within two months of instruction he had outpaced the group and moved into a more advanced Seeing Stars group. He continued to grow and by December he had outpaced the second group! In January of his 2nd grade year, Braeden returned to his general education classroom for reading instruction and was successfully reading and comprehending grade level material consistently!
By the middle of Braeden's 3rd grade year in 2016, he had continued to make great gains in his reading, as well as other areas of his education. He is currently able to decode and comprehend 5th grade material; his word attack is equivalent to that of a 12th grader, and his symbol imagery is that of a 12 year old! Braeden was recently re-evaluated and exited from special education! We are all so very proud of his hard work and the growth that he's made is inspiring!
Kellyn Ross is a Resource Teacher at Bill Metz Elementary School, part of the San Luis Valley BOCES in Colorado. The BOCES is implementing the Increasing Achievement and Growth Grant: Literacy for All Students with Disabilities and is utilizing the Lindamood-Bell programs throughout all 14 member districts.
Barbara Wilmarth's signature sign-off on all her email correspondence includes this famous quote from Einstein:
"If I can't picture it, I can't understand it."
Wilmarth, a 33-year veteran in the public school system of Pinellas County, Florida, came across this quote after taking a Lindamood-Bell workshop on teaching comprehension: the Visualizing and Verbalizing program. The program develops mental imagery as a foundation for language comprehension. This approach to teaching reading changed her professional career. Today, she spreads the imagery mantra to her colleagues in the district's Exceptional Student Education (ESE) division, which services students with reading/language disabilities and IEPs.
Wilmarth started in the program as an ESE coordinator. In her role as an instructional leader, she supports ESE teachers throughout the district.
Barbara Wilmarth teaches in
"I'm blessed to have the opportunity to travel from school to school across Pinellas County and work side by side with teachers to help their students become better readers. Generally a month or more will go by between my visits. While I wish I could see them every week, I am always impressed by the progress they have made. I have seen students make multiple years' gain in a single semester of school."
Wilmarth has helped oversee the implementation of both the Visualizing and Verbalizing and Seeing Stars programs at 31 sites in the district. Seeing Stars develops symbol imagery as a basis for orthographic awareness and word reading skills. With the inherent challenges of providing the necessary support and professional development her colleagues need on a limited budget, she has had to get creative in supporting around 60 ESE staff spread throughout the district. Each month, she gathers with the entire group at a central location to discuss best practices, problem-solve, monitor program fidelity, and offer guidance based on her experience in using the programs over the last six years. As an instructional leader, she takes her role very seriously. She knows the neediest students depend on her.
She recalls a student named Eric, a few years back. "As a 6th grader, Eric really wasn't reading at all. He had some very basic word attack skills, at only a one syllable level." Eric received small-group, targeted intervention in the Seeing Stars program. With Barbara's oversight, the work of his teachers, and a new way to teach reading, his life was changed. "He went from not reading, to now as a high school student, his passion is writing," she says proudly.
And there are many, many more students, who have inspired Wilmarth's professional transformation. You can hear her excitement about the profession she loves and the work she does.
"Earlier this week someone said to me, 'Barbara when you said after 27 years of teaching students in exceptional education classes you finally found something that has changed your life, you had my attention.' Six years later I am still amazed by the growth I see in students using Seeing Stars or Visualizing and Verbalizing every day. I am committed to continuing the use of the instructional strategies in these amazing programs with our students. I only wish I could bring every teacher on board with me."
As she continues to bring as many teachers as possible with her, she knows she'll be able to impact that many more students in need. Which is a big deal in Pinellas County. The district has nearly 104,000 students and is the 26th largest in the country. Sixty-three of the over 140 campuses are Title 1, with more than 40% of the students at each of these schools in poverty. There are over 13,600 students with disabilities, most of them related to reading difficulties.
Marquise is one of these students. As a 9th grader, he could barely sound out words like "meat" or "trap." Because Wilmarth and her team knew how to diagnose the underlying issue preventing him from learning to read, they could intervene and provide exactly what he needed to be successful. "Marquise was on his way to being another statistic," says Wilmarth. "Instead, he has earned his way to attend college!"
Barbara Wilmarth is just one example of the thousands of passionate educators out there who are driven by their desire to see children learn to their potential. The world is a better place because of them. We are lucky to have leaders and superheroes that change lives each and every day.
"I am always grateful for the difference our work has brought to many but never more so than when I see the long arm of our reach. Children you and I will never meet now have a better chance in the world."
-Nanci Bell Co-founder of Lindamood-Bell and Founder of Gander Publishing
Thirty years ago, Nanci Bell and Pat Lindamood acted on their vision to help each individual learn to his or her potential. Flash forward to today, and those efforts are reaching children on a global level. This month, children in Uganda were introduced to the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® Program (LiPS®) for Reading, Spelling, and Speech, courtesy of special education teacher Susan Koepplinger.
Koepplinger, an educator at Waitsfield Elementary School in Vermont, reached out to Gander Publishing after seeing our New Year's pledge to get more kids reading in 2016. She had recently been trained in the LiPS Program, was using it with several students, and was loving it. Koepplinger thought LiPS—which develops phonemic awareness, word reading, and spelling—would be the perfect intervention for Ugandan students living at the Malayaka House (MH). Many of the children at MH have significant delays in their reading ability, largely due to a lack of consistent, systematic instruction, as well as the complicating factor that they are learning to read in their second language.
In January, Gander received an email from Koepplinger. "I am writing to see if you might be interested in having an effect on the education of students in Africa," she wrote. "Malayaka House is an orphan home that is committed to providing homes for 40 children, as well as supporting them in their needs to become educated. I wondered if you might be interested in donating a LiPS kit that I could bring with me and train their two tutors in using the program with these students!" Gander was honored to be asked, and happily provided the materials she requested.
As she busily prepared for her trip, Koepplinger learned that things change quickly in Uganda. Two weeks before her departure date, she learned that MH was unable to locate consistent tutors for the children. This has been a problem, historically, so it was decided to offer a training to the local schools instead. They were quickly scheduled at both Entebbe Junior, where the children of MH attend, and Komo, a nearby school for children with autism. This helped MH hold true to its mission of "providing the most vulnerable orphaned and abandoned Ugandan children with a safe and loving home, education, and vocational training so they may grow into self-reliant citizens whose lives are full of opportunity and promise." In light of this new development, Gander provided additional materials so Koepplinger could now train teachers at two different schools.
Teachers at Entebbe Junior school were excited to incorporate LiPS for students in all grades, for instruction and intervention.
Koepplinger was able to spend a fair bit of time at Entebbe Junior, where she trained their kindergarten and first grade teachers as well as teachers in the upper grades. They are now using the LiPS Program with their kindergarten classes utilizing a whole-group approach, and are using the program in older grades as an intervention. The teachers can email Koepplinger with questions, and her co-worker Sara will return in June to see how things are going at the school. The training at the Komo School was for students with autism, and early reports indicate that they have started the program with this most vulnerable population.
In the future, Koepplinger hopes to become trained in Lindamood-Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) and Seeing Stars® programs to further broaden the scope of intervention she can offer struggling readers in the United States and Africa.
As she reflected on her time in Uganda, Koepplinger said, "My trip was really wonderful! Malayaka House is such an amazing place." She was struck by an interaction she had one afternoon as she was preparing for her afternoon training:
"One of the 'older girls,' now 23 years old, came in and was curious as to what I was doing. She loved looking at the mouth pictures (in the LiPS kit), and I played around with her making some of the sounds and finding the pictures. She really enjoyed it! She does not read or write, as she came to MH when she was 15, with one baby in tow and another on the way. She's since had her third. She shared with me how she couldn't read but was sending her older children to school. As we were leaving, she shared with my co-worker, Sara, that she is very interested in learning to read and write. Sara will be setting this up for her when she returns this summer."
Gander hopes to continue playing its part in helping educators like Susan and Sara, who are seeking to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world.
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