Mississippi College

MC Dyslexia Conference Draws Nearly 150 Participants

March 26, 2009

Beautiful illustrations by artist Rick Anderson of Clinton liven up the pages of his eight books geared to children.

With titles like "M is for Magnolia: A Mississippi Alphabet" and "N is for the Natural State: An Arkansas Alphabet," Anderson is a Mississippi artist with many young fans all over the region.

Anderson was one of the speakers at a two-day dyslexia conference that attracted about 150 educators, parents, students and psychologists to Mississippi College.

His topic Thursday was simply "how art enhances learning for everyone," Anderson said. During his visit, the professional painter and retired Mississippi art teacher showed off a handful of his books at the B.C. Rogers Student Center. His creations are designed for beginning readers - ages four to eight.

Anderson, who illustrated his first book at age 55, has won more than 150 art awards. He's passionate about his profession and using it to help students along the way. "We need more arts in the schools," he said at a time when many districts are dealing with painful budget cuts due to a poor economy.

The Clintonian was part of a team of outstanding professionals making presentations to enhance knowledge about dyslexia. It is a neurologically-based often familial disorder that impairs one's ability to learn to read, write and spell. Despite heavy showers, visitors poured in from all over Mississippi, and nearby states like Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee.

"This is a very informative conference," said Kaye Clegg, who teaches early literature at Thomas Street Elementary in Tupelo. She's been teaching for 40 years, and came away with fresh insights after her session led by South Panola Schools educator Terri Broome. "This was an excellent presentation."

Broome returned to her alma mater for the conference wrapping up Thursday. She teaches students from elementary school youngsters through junior high in Pope. The Batesville resident received her master's from MC in the dyslexia therapy program in May 2006. On her campus and at many schools around the Magnolia State, there are "a lot of struggling readers," she said.

The conference has also attracted several MC students planning to enter the education field. They included MC junior Margaret Howard, an elementary education major from Meadville, and Alice Stringer of Raymond, a graduate assistant in teacher education.

MC's Dyslexia Education Center sponsored the series of meetings on the Clinton campus. The center offers an evaluation process that helps students, parents and educators understand how to reach and teach dyslexic students. The MC center opened in 2007 and has received grants from such groups as the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian and the Robert Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson.

Other speakers included Karen Vickery, a nationally recognized dyslexia expert who's taught in public schools in Missouri, Texas and Arkansas for 35 years. Dr. Vickery teaches graduate school classes at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. MC education professor Merleen Ivey and Mitto Bilbo, director of the MC Dyslexia Education Center, were among others leading sessions at the second annual conference.

For more information, contact Mitti Bilbo at 601.925.7766.

Photo: Alice Stringer, Teachers Educ. grad. assistant, listens to Rick Anderson read from one of his books.

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