In Her Own Words: Jennifer on Associate Level OG Training

JennMerkelThis fall, Susie led a 10-day Associate Level Training session out at the Camp in Bakersville. As always, our participants each came from unique backgrounds. Today's post features a testimonial from Jennifer, an education specialist, impassioned teacher, and advocate. Enjoy! Camp Spring Creek: Tell us a little about yourself.

Jennifer: I am an Exceptional Education teacher with an undergrad in Communication Disorders. I have been working with children with various disabilities and processing disorders for the last 8 years. I consider myself a brain-based teacher with an interest in neuroscience and sensory-motor development. Most of the children I work with have a disability that can’t be “seen.” I teach with their brain in mind while helping them understand how they best learn. My intention is to promote awareness on multi-modal teaching techniques, their efficacy, and the importance of teaching to develop a “unified” brain and honor the whole child.

CSC: Tell us about a critical turning point or moment of learning (an "ah-hah") that you experienced during your 10 days of Associate Level Training with Susie:

Jennifer: Despite, previous exposure and practice with Orton-Gillingham derivatives, it was during this training that I realized how much more efficient and effective my approach could be! My “ah-hah” moment was visualizing how the 9 OG principles were brought to life in the new lesson format. The lesson plan is static but reflects a highly dynamic, multi-dimensional process occurring within the child!

CSC: Describe your experience of the Camp in Bakersville, working hours and hours every day, somewhat in you immersed yourself in the world of OG:

Jennifer: The 10-day training at Camp was challenging. But then, I also believe that anything worth achieving is never simply handed to you. Being away from home, operating on less sleep with exams at 8 am was not easy! I would prepare anyone by telling them that it is truly intense (as advertised). Reflecting on it now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Being surrounded and immersed in the material amplified the importance of what and why I was studying OG. This hyper-concentration allowed me to focus deeply on the material and internalize it faster than if I had taken days and weeks in between training. Plus, I met some amazing women! It was cozy and authentic—forging meaningful bonds. I will never forget them or my time at Camp!

CSC: What did you learn or realize that was most surprising to you? Perhaps something you had never considered before...

Jennifer: My surprise was realizing how poorly I had learned cursive and, worse, how poorly I was prepared to teach it!

CSC: How will you use your OG training?

Jennifer: In all my years of schooling, I had never heard of Orton-Gillingham. Moving to NC was a blessing for my career as I was exposed and awakened to this researched-based philosophy. I feel that OG has literally changed the way my brain functions and improved areas that were underdeveloped. I have seen the majority of my students blossom and become empowered, confident learners as a result of it. Susie’s teaching and mentoring is providing me with an opportunity to further develop myself as an educator. As teachers/specialists we assume an important oath. We should demand excellence from ourselves because our responsibility to our students demands it. I am grateful that Susie demands excellence from herself and her trainees. I will continue my Orton-Gillingham training as I believe it provides a superior approach to helping our kids learn how to master language and become confident, lifelong learners.