Mebane Foundation Investment in Camp Pathfinder at Triad Academy – Achieving Impressive Academic Gains

By Jeanna B. White
The Mebane Foundation has awarded $50,000 to Triad Academy at Summit School to support Camp Pathfinder, a five-week summer literacy intervention for students and professional development camp for public school teachers in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the surrounding area.

This unique camp was established to serve rising first through fifth-grade students with dyslexia and related print-based learning difficulties, train public school teachers in the Orton-Gillingham approach so that more students can benefit from its life-changing instruction, and to create a model that will have a transformative impact on how other organizations and educational institutions teach children with language-based learning differences.

“Conservatively, dyslexia impacts 15% of the population, and there is a real deficit in our communities of teachers trained in evidence-based approaches for language remediation”, said Carrie Malloy, Division Director for Triad Academy and Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) who supervises the teacher training. “Triad Academy at Summit School is one of 14 schools in the country accredited as a training facility by the AOGPE. Partnering with the Mebane Foundation allows us to expand our ability to meet the needs of struggling readers and the desires of educators that work with them.”

Since the camp’s inception in 2014-2015 through a $50,000 grant from the Foundation, thirty-eight public school teachers have participated in Orton-Gillingham training, and 135 students have benefitted from the transformative one-on-one instruction. Campers also participate in daily STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and co-curricular activities in a well-balanced day camp environment.

Substantial Improvement Achieved
Every camper receives a pre- and post- camp coding skill assessment, which measures whether the student knows the sounds of the various letters and clusters of letters and how well the student can read and spell words made up of those sounds. At the conclusion of camp, parents receive testing results, a tutor summary, and a list of recommendations. Last summer’s report showed impressive academic gains in both reading and writing.

The Mebane Foundation’s investment of $200,000 in the program over the past four years supports Allen Mebane’s mission of ensuring that every child has the opportunity to receive a top-tier education that will throw doors wide open to extraordinary career opportunities and more fulfilling, successful lives.

“This outreach partnership between Triad Academy at Summit School and public school teachers and students, is an example of how a great private school, which has expertise and resources, can make a very positive impact on the lives of students in the greater community,” said Larry Colbourne, president of the Mebane Foundation. “Not only are children who attend the camp getting a direct benefit for years to come, those students who will be in the classrooms of the teachers being trained will also feel the positive impact of their training.”

Transformative Impact
“We believe that the greatest indicator of a successful training program is the real-world implementation in each teacher’s classroom,” Malloy said. “The feedback from trainees who are using Orton-Gillingham instruction in their classrooms is incredibly positive.”

“We gather information from teachers on a regular basis. Ten teachers responded to the most recent survey. They represent Davie, Forsyth, and Guilford counties, including three Title I schools. These ten teachers provide Orton-Gillingham instruction to 146 students on a daily basis. Three of the ten teachers are providing one-on-one instruction to students throughout the week. Others are teaching the skills in a small group setting.”

Testimonials from the survey included:
“I am so thankful and blessed to be given the opportunity to attend OG Training through the Mebane Foundation,” said Leanna Self, Reading Specialist at Kernersville Elementary. “ I am able to reach more of my students with learning disabilities and really differentiate what they need based on the OG approach. My students are becoming stronger readers and responding more to the OG approach than they have ever in Corrective Reading or Reading Mastery. Thank you!”

Regina Altieri, Kindergarten Teacher at Shady Grove Elementary, said “I would argue that all my students are benefiting from my increased knowledge and training. In addition, I, along with our reading specialist and two assistants, work with seven kindergarten students every day for 25 minutes. We are using components of the OG lesson with these students. OG training has given me a powerful tool to use to reach struggling students.”

“This is the most valuable and useful professional development I have pursued in 15 years of teaching,” said Brandi Rights, Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher at The Downtown School. “It is a huge time commitment, but I am learning a lot and  am thankful for the opportunity! I am not yet fully trained, and I think the summer camp will be an essential part of my training. Future classes will benefit more from my training than my current class.”

Molly Chunn, formerly a special education resource teacher at Vienna Elementary; currently an EC Case Manager at Meadowlark Middle School, said “I have worked at Camp Pathfinder for the last two summers. The experience has been such a blessing to me. After my first summer at Camp, I was able to put OG into practice as a special education resource teacher. I worked with small groups of students with learning disabilities. The students loved the format of the lessons. They were engaged and energetic each and every time. They made a tremendous amount of growth as a result.”

Malloy is enthusiastic about the powerful effect the program can continue to have on students’ lives. “We feel certain we have a model for teachers and students with lasting impact. We are grateful to the Mebane Foundation for being our earliest partner in this initiative and for its continuing support.”