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Brotherly Love

A concerned brother's research has helped a small private school land a grant to screen children for dyslexia.

Asked to write a mock grant proposal in an English class at the 138-student Catalina School in Monterey, Calif., 8th grader Matt Miller was inspired by his brother Andrew's struggle to read. He researched common reading problems and wrote up a three-year plan proposing that kindergartners be screened for learning disabilities.

Matt was really annoyed that his brother's dyslexia had not been identified and dealt with earlier, the boys' mother, Cynthia Miller, said in a statement.

His proposal caught the attention of Andrew's teachers at the Chartwell School, a 84-student school in Seaside, Calif., that specializes in reading difficulties. Together with local special education teachers, they brought it to the attention of the 2,200-student Pacific Grove school district.

And the Chartwell School adapted Matt's idea to write a proposal to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, Calif. Last month, the Chartwell School announced that it had been awarded an $87,300 grant to screen kindergartners for dyslexia.

Jennifer Santee, the development director at the school, noted that dyslexia occurs most often in children with a high level of intelligence. Students are normally taught to read between 1st and 3rd grades, she added, but after those grades, reading skills typically are no longer taught, and teachers shift to making class assignments that assume students can read.

"It can be very confusing for them," Ms. Santee said. "It's critical to identify them as early as possible, because if you don't, the ones who don't get help keep having trouble, and by the 4th grade they start failing. Their self-esteem begins to falter, and then there's a real problem."

In collaboration with the Pacific Grove district, the Chartwell School will begin testing kindergartners for dyslexia in September.

— Marianne Hurst

Vol. 20, Issue 30, Page 3

Published in Print: April 11, 2001, as Take Note

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