Christina Grandt.

“I know that they’re mastering the skills and not just memorizing them now,” said Grandt, a North Carolina native who’s been teaching for 10 years. “It’s a big eye opener for me and for the parents. It’s really neat to see.”

Grandt teaches at Millbridge Elementary School in rural China Grove, North Carolina. The K-5 school is part of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools district, which several years ago invested in IMSE’s OG training for all K-3 teachers. The move was part of a district-wide push to get every child reading on grade level.

While she noticed gains immediately, Grandt said the most stunning indicator of Orton-Gillingham’s success came in year two. Incoming first graders who’d spent a year using IMSE techniques in Kindergarten were significantly more advanced than students in years prior.

“It’s a great unifying tool for our Kindergarteners coming in from all different backgrounds,” Millbridge principal Jordan Baker said. “It’s a common language that we can give all of our Kindergarteners, and it’s a great base. … A lot of our kids go to preschool five days a week. Some are in daycare. Some are home with parents or home with a family member. That exposure to reading before Kindergarten is different for all of our students.”

There are nearly 600 students at Millbridge, where Grandt is one of five first-grade teachers.

Teaching in the Rowan-Salisbury district is especially exciting for Grandt, who grew up in the area and now teaches alongside her former instructors.

“I had great teachers growing up, and they always made everything so much fun,” Grandt said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I could go to school and have fun every day for the rest of my life.’ … I was lucky. I knew I wanted to be a teacher straight out of high school. I’ve loved every minute of it since. It’s a great career.”

She was first trained in IMSE’s OG a few summers ago. Teachers across the district had been asking for a phonics system the whole county could use.

“When we were sitting through training, it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ It was just so much information,” Grandt said. “It was like, ‘Wow. Wow. Wow. Are our kids really going to be able to do this?’ Once we got really into it, though, the rest of the year went by so smoothly.”

Grandt said her students love using sand trays and trying to catch her purposefully misspell words while working on sentence dictation exercises.

“I always ask them, ‘How do you know I spelled it wrong? Maybe I spelled it right.’ And they always tell me. … I just sit back and smile. It just makes you so happy.”

Millbridge has socioeconomic diversity with a growing Hispanic population, according to Baker. Children who aren’t as proficient in English as their classmates are building confidence with IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham.

“I can’t imagine teaching without it,” she said. “It makes everybody shine. My kids love to read now. They just love it.”

“Even my non-readers, they’ll sit down and get a book. … I wish more schools would invest in it. When you put the time and effort into something that’s good, it really takes off on its own.”

IMSE believes that all children should be able to read. To achieve this end, IMSE wants to bring Orton-Gillingham to all educators to give children the best literacy instruction possible.

Learn more about what you can do to improve literacy for all using the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham training.

Please connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to get tips and tricks from your peers and us. Read the IMSE Journal to hear success stories from other schools and districts, and be sure to read the OG Weekly email series for refreshers and tips.