Triston Richards, a fourth grader at Lutheran South Unity School (LSUS), Fort Wayne, loves bugs, animals and science. His mom, Debbie, couldn’t believe his ability to identify dinosaurs at a young age. In spite of his interest in science, however, school hasn’t always been easy for Triston.
During kindergarten and first grade, his teachers noticed he lagged behind other students in reading and began making accommodations for his learning needs as a result. But by third grade, Triston was still struggling and tested at only a first-grade reading level. Triston needed specialized help, and the enrichment room at Lutheran South Unity School provided just that, giving Tristan the support he needed for his abilities to improve.
With a focus on students who have gaps in learning or other deficiencies, including reading, math, or learning disabilities, the enrichment room builds student confidence and makes learning more enjoyable. “We have a full special education program,” teacher Malissa Desormeaux says, “with two Title I teachers, one full-time teacher to work with the school’s [enrichment program], and others who work with kids with disabilities.” This support gives kids like Triston the help they need to gain learning success.
Last year, Desormeaux served as Triston’s third grade teacher before moving into her current role as enrichment room coordinator. She noticed Triston’s discouragement with learning. “Last year,” she says, “he was down on himself. He felt bad that he was way different than others.” That’s when the teachers in the enrichment room sprang into action, focusing on Triston’s learning deficits in reading, spelling and writing, customizing their teaching techniques to his deficiencies. They also collaborated with his classroom teachers, who continued the same techniques in class. Volunteers tutored him as well, reading with him for an additional hour every day
to improve his reading proficiency.
Because of the efforts of teachers and staff at LSUS, Triston jumped from a first-grade to third-grade reading level in one year. This improvement in reading scores has also helped Triston’s confidence to soar. He’s not embarrassed about his reading anymore. His spelling scores have improved as well. Desormeaux says, “He’s even gotten perfect spelling tests.” Now that Desormeaux works as a full-time enrichment room teacher, she is also using techniques like Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment method, intentionally allowing kids to practice certain “brain games” that will build cognitive development. Tristan has found great success with these specialized methods.
Debbie acknowledges that the teachers at Lutheran South Unity have been instrumental to her son’s success. They have even taught her ways to help Triston complete homework. That success has continued into his fourth-grade year, with additional improvements in reading and spelling. Now that he is reading grade-level books, he no longer feels embarrassed about his learning challenges. In fact, he’s proud of how far he’s come.
This is the difference that Lutheran South Unity School provides for their students. They meet the needs of students by providing them with the best in enrichment room resources. But Triston, our avid bug collector, doesn’t have to explain that to anyone. You can see it in his smile when he tells you about the latest book he’s reading.
Taken from the Lutheran Witness, Indiana Insert, February 2016.