From Aug. 7-11, three Lower School teachers from Community Day School (CDS) in Pittsburgh participated in Orton-Gillingham training in Worthington, Ohio from The Institute of Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE).

CDS is a co-ed, independent Jewish day school for students ages 3 to Grade 8. Our school has an extraordinary commitment to teaching and learning in ways that benefit and support all our learners; toward those ends, there is strong administrative commitment to educating the faculty in skills that are foundational for student learning.

Because IMSE has a philosophy permitting and supporting the application of Orton-Gillingham principles to classroom groups AND existing curricula, it was an organization whose training approach best fit our needs.

After this summer’s training, all of our Lower School classroom teachers (Kindergarten-Grade 3), Language Arts teachers (Grades 4-8), and Learning Services and ESL teachers (Kindergarten–Grade 8) have learned the Orton-Gillingham approach to assessing and addressing reading, writing, and spelling for use within their classrooms and curricula.

This large-scale investment in professional development has built an English-language knowledge base for teachers charged with teaching, assessing, monitoring, and remediating acquisition of language-based skills necessary for reading, writing, and spelling.

Each participant learned the fundamental structural components of the English language (phonemic and graphemic/orthographic structure (i.e., “the sounds and sights of English”), spelling patterns and rules, letter recognition and formation, and methods for effective teaching of these critical skills across the range of learners.

In addition, our teachers are now equipped with knowledge and strategies they can use to collaborate with parents to support the development of English-language skills. They are also better prepared to collaborate with allied professionals, both within and outside the school, to support student learning and development.

Finally, having a large teacher cohort participate in the IMSE Orton-Gillingham training has created a building-wide teaching-and-learning community through a shared professional development experience related to fundamental student skills acquisition.

It is true that for many struggling readers, Orton-Gillingham and Orton-based interventions may be the only appropriate intervention (many in the dyslexia community would agree). But since many of our students—whether identified or not—struggle with with reading, writing, and spelling, we feel strongly that most students in our learning community are going to benefit from Orton-Gillingham-informed instruction.

We look forward to experiencing the impact and measuring the outcomes of Orton-Gillingham in action on a comprehensive basis as teachers across all grade levels work together to deliver best-practice reading and writing instruction.


The IMSE Journal will follow Community Day School’s progress.  Watch out for an update later in the year!  Learn more about the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham trainings here.