This is dedicated to a lovely mother and wife, whom I first met in 1996; as a young girl. Little did I know then, she would change my life forever. Her mother started a Hero Journey and because of Janell, I started Meadowbrook Educational Services, to help more struggling students get the help they needed to succeed.
When I was first acquainted with Janell, she struggled to prove how smart she was, just like most of you, because reading was so difficult. She came to my summer reading classes and then became a member of my “Reading Club” at a local school.
Janell was so bright and cheerful and eager to try anything that I asked of her. If I could describe her with only one word it would be “resilient”. Janell joined my summer classes and then stayed on to be tutored once a week. She made great gains then suddenly she started to lose some of her ability. What could be the problem? Did she not want to be there? She started getting headaches and sometimes stomachaches and lost her cheery countenance. I called her mother to reaffirm she really wanted to come. Her mother said Janell cried when she thought she might not be able to come to Mrs. Smith’s. So I needed to figure out what was happening.
Then one afternoon Janell was reading well when she suddenly stopped at the word “napkin”, put her hand to her head and said, “I don’t feel good,” so I suggested she get a drink and then go outside for some fresh air. She came in looking better and said she was ready to continue.
She looked at the word “napkin”, again. I asked Janell to decode it she said, “n-a-p ‘nap’ then k-i-n- ‘kin’, ‘panic’ .” She put her hand to her head and one to her stomach and said, “I feel sick”. Her mind had taken the two syllables and transposed them into another word. That is the n-a-p transposed to “pan” and the k-i-n became “nic” (nick) the word “panic”. This episode started my journey to find help for children who suffer distress and failure when trying so very hard to read.
I asked my husband Larry to look up everything on dyslexia he could find on the internet. He found a different approach that was so unique I had a hard time believing it was not voodoo, because all my previous certifications were in phonetic based programs. This new theory made perfect sense to my son who was also struggling with reading and writing. His enthusiasm to try this approach started me on the journey that would help me become proficient in helping the 3-dimensional visual learners or processors.
When I returned I used some of these concepts with Janell and they worked. She no longer had the disorienting effect of letters and sound changing places that left her slightly dizzy with a headache and stomachache. I did not understand at that time Janell also had a short digit span that was causing a shorter working memory so she was unable to keep information in her phonological loop. In other words, keep all the individual sounds and then loop them around to merge and create the complete sound of the word.
I learned while working with 3-dimensional spatial children that many of them have shorter than normal digit spans, because they learn holistically, complete words or concepts at a time, and they don’t need to push their sequential memory open like an auditory sequential processor does. This kind of child should learn to read by a whole word method and not by phonics.
Another confusion Janell had was from the fact that she did not see diagonal lines so there were always confusions with w-x-y-z. If the words like when, where, what came up in reading Janell would always read them as thought the “w” was a “t” Example: when became then, where became there, what became that; here is a picture of the letters Janell made to get mastery of this she also placed her clay model of herself laying over the top of them so she could keep them under control, and it worked.
We started a Monday support night and many of you may remember it. Janell was a faithful member she would ride the bus to Meadowbrook do her clay concepts for words enjoy a social time with the other students while eating pizza and then her mother would pick her up on her way home from work. Janell came till she completed all of her program.
I was very pleased when I received an invitation to Janell’s graduation and reception from high school. She was featured in the Spokesman’s Review
An excerpt from the Spokesman’s Review paper: “Janell Kjack, a new graduate of Liberty High School, is known for exhibiting a positive attitude”.
Summarizing the achievements of Janell Kjack, a graduating senior at Liberty High School, her mother has only one word: “Amazing.”
Janell was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade after falling behind her peers in reading. Her parents sent her to what later became Meadowbrook Educational Services and put her through an intense one-week class, where the instructor worked closely with her on connecting symbols with words.
Then Janell went back to school, joining her peers in regular classes. Through determination and perseverance and the help of her teachers and parents, she has achieved a grade-point average of 3.0 to 3.4
“Without them we would have flunked from the 2nd grade on”, her mother said.
Janell has always been a lover of animals and would show hers at the fair receiving ribbons. It was no surprise when I received a reception invitation announcing Janell’s graduation from the Apollo College as a Veterinarian Assistant. I visited the pet store where Janell worked as an on staff veterinarian assistant taking care of exotic animals and making sure they were healthy. What a lovely confident woman she had matured into.
Then came a wedding reception invitation to help celebrate with Chris and Janell on their special day. A beautiful bride and handsome groom. Dorothy and I left that evening full of gratitude for the students who have touched our lives in so many ways and who we have been able to help achieve their goals.
Janell came by a month ago and brought her little girl. What a sweetie as you can see!