United Readers of America is founded by two passionate and compassionate teachers. Kristin Pease and Emily Book have worked in elementary schools and tutored privately, specifically working with children in need of special education services. Their experience in the schools made them realize the importance of intersecting these students at a very early age. Getting them to read successfully, but also stopping the feeling of failure before it sets in.
These two teachers are bringing their skills to two schools in the Columbus area, and hope to provide reading tutoring services to more than 60 children this upcoming academic year. But they need your help. The help of people like you who want to give back to their communities and to children and families in need.
Kids have been my passion since I was a young child. And kids with challenges have always had a place in my heart. So naturally, I pursued a degree in Special Education at The Ohio State University, with a focus on students with learning disabilities. I taught students with learning disabilities for eight years; however, not as much was known back then in the 90’s about how a dyslexic brain is wired and how it learns to read. In fact, it wasn’t until 2009, when my own son was suspected of having dyslexia that I learned all about it. I attended the University of Cincinnati in 2012 and received my TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) endorsement. I have the Basic Certification in the Barton Reading & Spelling System, and an OG Classroom Certification in the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) at Marburn Academy.
I learned about using systematic, structured literacy in 2014, when Emily Book helped me with a struggling ESL student that I was teaching. I could see the benefits of it right away, so I began trying it out with several children who had a history with reading and writing difficulties. After only a few months, I was convinced that children who struggle in the areas of reading, listening, speaking, and/or writing need to have access to this type of program.
I began using it exclusively with my English Language Learners in my elementary school. My results are listed in the Impact Section of this website. I also Co-Founded Reading BootCamp, LLC, with Emily Book in 2016 to privately tutor students who struggled with reading. My tutoring business grew and grew, and I eventually left the public school to focus on my one-on-one students. I have also trained others to use structured literacy programs so that they can tutor in my community. There are not enough structured literacy tutors in Columbus! Contact us if you want to become a tutor and we can help you get started.
Unfortunately, there are many situations where the parents are unable to afford this specialized reading program, or their schools do not provide it or even recognize that they need it. So, that's why we have created United Readers of America.
Education is my passion! I graduated with a BS in Elementary Education and taught in an Elementary School in Portsmouth, Ohio. But it didn't take long before I began wondering why some students learn to read with ease, while others struggle to sound out the smallest of words. Unfortunately, the answer was not revealed to me for many years.
I first learned about systematic, structured literacy eight years ago when my Goddaughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. Before I started tutoring her, she scored below the 1st percentile in reading as a second grader. But within seven months of having Barton instruction two hours a week, she tested in the 50th percentile. I was intrigued! My second student was 10 years old and could only read five pre-primer words. I knew she was intelligent and very articulate but could not break the reading code. For two months we worked hard and it seemed we weren’t making much progress. But at month three, she had a breakthrough! The student’s mother called me crying and said her daughter read to her for the very first time. I was hooked! As a result, I have been blessed to be able to help children learn to read and write for the last seven years using an Orton-Gillingham based system.
I am committed to learning as much as I can so that I help more and more students. I have been trained in the Barton Reading & Spelling System, the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE), and the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). I went back to school and now have over 15 hours of graduate work relating to phonemic awareness and teaching students of other languages. Currently, I am in the process of writing a computer program and an app for students to use as reading and spelling practice for the skills they have learned. And in the community, I deliver dyslexia simulations and informational meetings, as well as providing school districts with professional development.
Public awareness is needed to motivate change in the way we educate our teachers and students. Dyslexia is not an isolated problem. It affects 15-20% of the population and is the most common reason students struggle with reading, spelling and writing. It must be addressed in our schools and society. The best way to remediate dyslexia is to intervene early with a structured multi-sensory, explicit program. Therefore, I am working at the state level to initiate dyslexia legislation, that will mandate schools to screen kindergarten students for dyslexia.
Heather is the technological glue to this operation. With her experience as an administrative assistant to a middle school principal, to working for the nonprofit, Young Life, she has the detailed-oriented background to keep U.R.A. running smoothly. She works behind the scenes to organize and schedule the volunteers, arrange for background checks of the volunteers, help with the logistics of volunteer trainings and parent workshops, oversee the budget, create and manage the website, deliver press releases, and manage fundraising efforts.