The Pool Learning Center: Dreams Can Come True

Angelique Colford works with students

By Angelique Colford, M. Ed.

As parents, we all have hopes and dreams for our children, even before they begin to walk and talk.

We picture them as all-star athletes, musicians, thespians and straight-A students. We envision well-rounded, happy children growing into successful adults. For many of us, those dreams appear to be shattered shortly after our children enter school when we are told they are not learning to read and write in the same way or at the same rate as their peers.

When a child sees little to no success in school, life becomes miserable, not just for the child but for the parents as well. In the small town of Marlboro, Vt., a learning center is trying to make a difference for children and their families.

The mission of the Pool Learning Center is to provide high-quality professional literacy instruction to students with learning differences, their parents and their educators. Children with learning differences require instruction that is responsive to their individual learning needs. All children are capable of learning, yet not all children learn in the same way.

At The Pool Learning Center, instructors provide diagnostic reading and written language instruction based on each child’s individual strengths and areas of need. Lessons are individualized for each student. Instructors analyze errors and self-corrections to determine goals for subsequent lessons.The instructors are highly qualified special education teachers and are trained in Orton-Gillingham and/or Lindamood Bell Learning Processes.

The majority of students who benefit from Pool Learning Center’s services have been diagnosed with dyslexia, but the center has also provided services to students with other learning disabilities, attention deficits, learning impairments, brain injuries and students on the autism spectrum.

In addition to providing high quality instruction to students with learning challenges, The Pool Learning Center offers support to their parents. Parenting a child with learning differences has its unique challenges and rewards. Instructors from the center provide consultative services to students’educational support teams and parents as requested.

Parents are provided with educational games to play with their children. Reading materials to help understand their child’s learning differences are provided to parents, along with “just right” books for their children.

Future goals of the center are to form a parent support group and to begin a monthly newsletter for parents, prepared by parents, students and educators. Services for parents are important. Parents are their child’s first and most dedicated teachers.

Finally, The Pool Learning Center feels strongly that children should be able to receive an appropriate education within their home school environment. Children should not have to be sent away to specialized schools for their education.

In order to provide children with the most appropriate education possible within their home school, teachers need access to high quality professional development opportunities. Over the past six years, The Pool Learning Center has made a commitment to do just that.

Cognizant of current best practices in education and sensitive to the needs of area schools regarding the issue of learning differences, the center has provided workshops and symposiums on the following topics: response to instruction (RtI); brain-based learning and instruction; the literacy of math; literacy alignment to the common core; common core/common sense; and diagnostic teaching strategies.

The presenters are some of the best available in the field of special education. Every workshop and symposium hosted by the center thus far has received high praise from its participants. Because of these professional development opportunities, teachers in local schools have the tools available to appropriately educate students with learning differences.

The Pool Learning Center values education, community and family.These core values guide the decisions made by the Pool Learning Center board.The center provides educational services that respond to individual learning needs; helpsstudents accept and understand their own learning strengths and differences; supports parents struggling with the challenges of raising a child who learns differently; and provides quality professional development for educators so that children with learning differences can receive highquality instruction within their own community.

The dreams parents have for their children may seem out of reach when learning differences are discovered. However, when parents learn to identify their child’s strengths and accept their differences; children receive appropriate instruction and realize that they can learn, they just learn differently; and educators increase their repertoire for teaching, dreams can and will come true.

Angelique Colford, M.Ed. is the director of The Pool Learning Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in special education from Castleton State College and her master’s degree with a concentration in reading and special education at Bay State College. Colford has been trained in Reading Recovery and Orton-Gillingham and has been teaching in public schools for 30 years.

For more information about The Pool Learning Center, contact 802-368-7523 oracolford@myfairpoint.net.

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