Mississippi College

MC Hosts Dyslexia Conference

March 27, 2008

Rebecca Yawn-Harrison says she will bring better skills to her classroom at Raymond Elementary School after attending a Mississippi College conference on dyslexia.

At the two-day conference concluding Thursday, the special education teacher learned tips on helping children organize their thoughts. Overall, for the two days, she said, "I got more hands-on things" that will increase her teaching effectiveness.

Drawing 178 educators and parents from across the state, the conference at the B.C. Rogers Student Center featured speakers from Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas. MC's Dyslexia Education Center led by director Mitti Bilbo was the conference sponsor.

Speakers focused on educational techniques for children with ADHD, an assessment for children with suspected dyslexia and learning difficulties and an overview of Mississippi's dyslexia laws. Other topics ranged from reading fluency to written language expression.

"The information we gleaned was both informative and practical," said Mari Farrington, who teaches second-graders at the First Presbyterian Day School in Jackson.

"As classroom teachers we are always looking for new and applicable strategies to help our students," said Kathy Henley, a first-grade teacher at the day school. The Jackson resident plans to begin studies towards a master's degree in dyslexia education at MC in the summer of 2009.

Alcorn County educator Linda Bray is also signed up to pursue an MC master's degree in dyslexia and will enroll in classes starting in August. Attending the MC conference, she said, gave her "lots of things to bring back to help children with learning disabilities. I see a lot in our school and we are not trained to work with them," added Bray, who teaches at Glendale Elementary near Corinth. Of the 22 youngsters in her fourth grade classroom, there are four with dyslexia. Another seven or eight students have Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD.

"We learned a lot," Bray said. "Everything was useful."

The meetings in Anderson Hall drew a record attendance for an MC dyslexia conference, Bilbo said. MC has operated the program for a little more than a year.

Yawn-Harrison, a Florence resident and former Pearl Junior High teacher, spent time after the conference to go over a few school lessons with her 5-year-old daughter, Lily Grace Yawn. Her daughter, a native of China, wasn't feeling well Thursday at her school, Raymond Elementary. As a result, her mother brought the kindergarten student to the MC sessions on the Clinton campus.

The work for MC's Dyslexia Education Center goes on year-round. The center serves the needs of 13 youngsters from the Jackson metro area. The center offers an evaluation process that helps students, parents and educators understand how to reach and teach dyslexic students. MC's program has received encouragement from the Mississippi Scottish Rite Masons and grants from the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian and the Robert Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson.

For more details on the center, contact Mitti Bilbo at 601-925-7649 or MBilbo@mc.edu

PHOTO (left to right): Conference participants from First Presbyterian Day School, Kathy Henley and Mari Farrington, pose with Mitti Bilbo (right), director MC's Dyslexia Education Center.

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