Journey to Becoming an Orton Gillingham Tutor

Posted by Brainspring on 26th Jan 2015

Hi everyone,

This Monday is something special instead of a multisensory activity.  This Monday, Dite and I decided to write guest posts for each others’ blogs about why we do what we do.  Out of everything we could be, why are we Orton Gillingham tutors, instructors and bloggers?

You may be surprised that our paths that ended us where we are now aren’t as straightforward as you might think.  Below, you’ll read Dite’s story.  You can find mine on her blog at

Orton Gillingham tutor

Sarah asked me to write a little bit about my “journey” to becoming an OG tutor.

I was always a bright child and caught on to new things quickly, but when I was in 2nd grade the teachers noticed I flipped my numbers and couldn’t line up my math problems, and that I was unable to do simple addition and subtraction. My handwriting was very messy, and all of my writing was marked down for this reason. I ended up going to the resource room with a few other kids, where they taught us a form of “TouchMath” which involved visualizing dots on the numerals and counting out the answers. Unfortunately, I never found this a very helpful strategy as it made it so that I was always counting by ones and it is very slow.

I’m not sure if I had a formal evaluation done or not, but the school labelled me as having dyscalculia and dysgraphia. We were in Iowa and the awareness of these conditions was pretty high compared to other parts of the country, since this is where Samuel Orton did his initial work on dyslexia.

My mother recognized that I was not really doing well in public school even with the resource help, and I had stopped feeling like I was smart, so halfway through the year she sent me to a private school for kids with learning challenges, Linn Academy. It was mostly kids with dyslexia and ADHD, so a very similar population to that which I am now tutoring.

Linn Academy taught Orton-Gillingham to all the students, even the non-dyslexic kids such as myself. We did hands-on math and science projects, and lots of art projects. The best thing about attending school there was that it was so wonderful for my self-esteem to see that I wasn’t bad for having a learning challenge, because everyone there had their own challenges and we were all pretty understanding and supportive of each other. I really thrived having a diverse group of students to call my friends. I stayed at that school until high school, and then I went on to graduate high school in 3 years and start college at age 16.

After I got my MSW degree, I decided I wanted to work with children and the population that spoke to me was the one which I had grown up with at Linn Academy. I knew that dyslexic kids and kids with ADHD are exceptionally bright, they just learn differently and need a special type of help and lots of patience. I was fortunate to be hired by a nonprofit in Wisconsin after graduation, where I was trained and certified in the Orton-Gillingham method. I have since also become certified in the Barton Reading and Spelling System and trained in multisensory math and Handwriting Without Tears (which has helped my own dysgraphia a lot!)

I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to work with such a wonderful population and that I can make a career out of helping people achieve success!


Tutors, teachers, educators, why do you do what you do?  Share your story with us in the comments.  

Read my story on Dite’s blog.


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