New school designed for children with dyslexia
By By Angie Hood
Record Guest Writer
The State of Alabama will see the opening of a unique school next month when Greengate School opens on August 7. Greengate School is a not for profit school for children with dyslexia, a reading disability that without special intervention hinders bright children from succeeding academically.
It is estimated that between 7 percent and 15 percent of the general population struggle with some form of reading disability. While some cases are mild and only cause occasional issues in school, others can be severe. Children may find themselves unable to read at grade level, struggling with each syllable they read and having little or no comprehension what they are reading.
Greengate School got its biggest boost in opening thanks to a local church. Greengate is using space donated by Sherwood Park Baptist Church located at 6600 Old Madison Pike in Huntsville, just at Research Park Blvd. (formerly Rideout Road) at the edge of Research Park.
"It was a very exciting moment when we got a site for the school, a home for the children, so we can visualize the school day. We're very excited about being able to offer this, for this dream to come true, to offer this resource to children of Madison county," Marcia Ramsey, school director, said.
Ramsey said she is so grateful the church took this school on as a mission to the community.
"They have been very supportive and positive about the school and very generous. We really thank them for going to the lengths they did to accommodate us. They really saw the need for this school and kept telling us how they believe in this. They are doing this school for the community," Ramsey said.
Ramsey cites Sherwood Park pastor Steve Pettey and Buddy Tidwell who led the school through the approval procedure with the church.
"We want to say thanks to all the deacons and members who worked to make that decision possible and supported the idea of a school for children with dyslexia."
The Sherwood Park Baptist church facility gives Greengate School a whole building to use with a kitchen, gym, classrooms, playground, and playing fields, just perfect Ramsey says for a school.
The benefit to students attending Greengate School will come from small classes, specialized teaching and individual tutoring.
"The school day differs from traditional school days because it is heavily weighted toward language skills, reading writing and spelling. The thing that really distinguishes us will be the daily individual tutoring using multi-sensory language instruction, absolutely crucial for kids with dyslexia. The instruction is sequential and systematic, and cumulative sensory," Ramsey said.
Another benefit for the students will be working with other talented and creative dyslexic children. Seeing that they are not alone in their disability and that others with the same problems are smart and successful will lead to more a positive self-image.
Greengate School will begin with two teachers, Marcia Ramsey and Patti McClanahan, with additional tutors as needed. Experienced classroom teacher Patti McLanahan has been a science teacher and dyslexia tutor locally.
School director Marcia Ramsey has been a local tutor for children with dyslexia. Ramsey ran the Montessori School of Huntsville on Bailey Cove for five years.
Ramsey became involved in teaching children with dyslexia when she discovered her own son had dyslexia. According to Ramsey her son is now 14 and compensating for his dyslexia very well.
Greengate plans to offer a summer four-week intensive tutoring offered next summer. It's a long-range goal of the school to have an outreach tutoring program available to students who cannot afford to attend the school.
Starting a school from scratch is a daunting task and the school is relying on a team of volunteers to get it running.
"The project would not have been possible without the hard work of board members John Allen, our board president, Marie Lambert, our business manager, and Louise LeGrand. The support and advice of the staff of Randolph School has been steady throughout the project," Ramsey said.