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Mississippi College Supporters Celebrate Dyslexia Center Expansion

Mississippi College leaders, educators and other supporters join the ribbon-cutting ceremony showcasing the recent expansion of the MC Dyslexia Center.
Mississippi College leaders, educators and other supporters join the ribbon-cutting ceremony showcasing the recent expansion of the MC Dyslexia Center.

Ninety-five students facing reading problems and other learning issues are getting help at Mississippi College’s Dyslexia Center.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, students joined parents, therapists, and MC leaders celebrating the center’s recent expansion.

“This center is a ministry, first and foremost”’ School of Education Dean Cindy Melton told visitors.

The innovative teaching facility on the Clinton campus expanded thanks to generous donations from the Parker LifeShare Foundation of Mississippi.

The late MC trustee Wayne Parker, his wife, Zeita Parker and their Jackson-based foundation helped disadvantaged Mississippi children for many years. Their heartbeat for kids included the Dyslexia Center with modern classrooms near the MC Choctaws soccer fields.

“Miracles happen and the LifeShare Foundation made it happen,” says Shirley Tipton, the center’s academic coordinator.

At the January 16 program, Ryan Smith, 20, spoke of the quality instruction from Mississippi College therapists and teachers helping him cope with dyslexia. Ryan received help for three years, starting as a third grader. “It definitely made a difference,” says the Meridian Community College student.

About 15 percent of the American population suffers with dyslexia, a learning disorder involving difficulties with reading, spelling and writing. The learning disability stems from problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters as well as words. Dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.

Most children succeed in school with tutoring or specialized education programs. People often cope with dyslexia for life.

First launched in Farr Hall, the Dyslexia Center began over a dozen years ago. Its expansion includes new rooms to evaluate students, more meeting space and offices. The one-story facility at the Baptist-affiliated university remains open Monday through Friday.

For her eight-year-old daughter, Kyleigh Sterling, the Dyslexia Center “was a life changing experience,” says her mom, Vernita Sterling of Jackson.

Her daughter continues to be home schooled. MC teachers “provided the tools I didn’t have to help her,” Vernita Sterling said. “Her confidence was boosted.”

Center director Jan Hankins served as the therapist helping Meredith Chandler, 10, of Clinton with her studies from kindergarten through the fourth grade. Her family returned to express their appreciation.

Dyslexia Center staffers evaluate students, offer instruction, meet parents, and host conferences. Part of the School of Education, the center serves dyslexic students and families statewide. Mississippi College also offers a master’s in dyslexia therapy.

Dr. Melton thanked the long list of center supporters. School of Education Dean Emeritus Don Locke of Clinton, and Shirley Tipton “provided the vision for the program,” she noted. Expansion will enable the staff to serve dyslexic students for years to come in Mississippi.