Nancy Broz and Erica Blust

Nancy Broz and Erica Blust are no strangers to the classroom. Now retired, Nancy Broz spent her varied 35 year career teaching in Ohio public and parochial schools—leading general education classrooms K-3 and as a special education teacher for elementary and high school students.  For more than 9 years, Erica Blust has been a Title 1 reading specialist.

They met in 2008 when Erica came to Ohio’s Bowling Green City Schools as a Title 1 reading specialist. “I was working in the same building where Nancy was a special education teacher,” Erica tells the Journal. “At the time, we were the only two intervention teachers in the school. We met a lot about individual students or groups of students. Through that we developed a very strong working relationship. We have shared goals and a lot in common,” Nancy tells the Journal.

Among those goals were a strong belief in collaboration and assessment. “We both believed in the need to assess students where they were functioning and then finding something that would work for them.”

The following year, 2009, Nancy and Erica took part as IMSE conducted its Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Training at Bowling Green City Schools.

Students have loved the program and enjoy the structure of the routines and also look forward to charting their growth.

“The training was very inspiring, but it was a lot to take in,” Nancy says. “We really spent the next year immersing ourselves in the program and developing classroom materials that covered all the concepts.”

Working nights, weekends and holidays, Nancy and Erica develop what they call the ‘SWIFT’ program. SWIFT stands for: Sight Word Instruction is Fundamental to Reading. “It was really just to make sure that all of our colleagues could have letter-specific materials, ready to go for the classroom, that we kept in a series of filing cabinets where everyone could use them,” Erica says.

In addition to the packets for the classroom, Nancy created a set of teacher manuals for the different levels covered in IMSE’s training. “I wanted to make sure that there was a reference for teachers, where they could review how they were giving red word instruction, for instance. Just something easily available as teachers began incorporating OG in their teaching,” Nancy says.

With their complementary materials in place, Nancy and Erica began assessing students for improvements in high frequency words. “We saw a great correlation between where the students needed the most help and where IMSE’s OG came in. So, we were confident in the program,” Nancy says. “It really became a passion, we were seeing results with students, they liked the program and our confidence in it just grew over time,” Erica confirms.

As part of their assessment, Nancy and Erica created a year-long study looking at how many high frequency words each student had learned. “Students had an average of around 100 words, which we were really impressed with,” Nancy tells the Journal.

The results of their study appear in the Literacy Practice and Research Journal. You can read an abstract, here:

In addition to its effectiveness, IMSE’s OG has been a big hit among the children at Bowling Green City Schools. “Students have loved the program and enjoy the structure of the routines and also look forward to charting their growth.  They are extremely motivated by the various aspects of the program including: reading for time, using the manipulation cards to create meaning, becoming an illustrator and illustrating their controlled readers being able to take home the readers, and most of all their success learning new words!” Nancy and Erica shared with the Journal.