Matt Miller has a younger brother, Andrew, who was diagnosed as dyslexic last year at the age of 11. This was a late diagnosis, but that is common; because although roughly 15% of the American population is dyslexic to some degree, it is not until these school children begin reading to learn that the disability surfaces in a pronounced way. Needing specialized schooling, Andrew was accepted to the Chartwell School that was located 2 ½ hours away. The Miller family relocated so Andrew could attend this school.
Matt had a special yearlong assignment from his English class, and he chose dyslexia as his topic. “Project Expertise” was based on extensive research and interviews with educators and experts, and Matt ultimately wrote what became a fully formatted grant proposal entitled, An Early Identification and Early Intervention Plan. This proposal Matt created is a three yearlong collaborative study with the Pacific Grove Unified School District and Chartwell, and it may alter the educational and emotional needs of every kindergarten student in the Pacific Grove Unified School District in Northern California.
The plan calls for the screening of every kindergartner entering the public school for the at risk signs of reading difficulties or disabilities. Once identified, these children will receive carefully crafted phonemic instruction and be monitored and tracked throughout the years until they reach third grade. It is hoped that the vast majority of these students will successfully develop their reading and language skills and avoid future remediation and pullout situations.
Matt presented this proposal to the Superintendent of Pacific Grove Unified School District, the elementary school principals, the Executive Director of Chartwell School, the Special Education Coordinator and the School Psychologist for the school district and the Program Specialist for Monterey County Special Education. All groups were supportive of the plan and encouraged Matt to seek funding for the project. Working closely with Chartwell, a formal proposal was submitted to the Packard Foundation last fall. This December, the Packard Foundation funded the entire project with approximately $90,000. Chartwell School is the actual recipient of the grant and will administer the study based on Matt’s proposal.
Matt learned quite a bit from this school assignment. He knows that when you have a good idea and mix that with energy and commitment; you can obtain outstanding results. He also learned that mobilizing resources that all have a common goal also helps to attain that goal in the most efficient way. Because of this assignment, children from Monterey and Salinas to Santa Cruz will benefit and deserve an equal chance at success.