Sandra and Sammie Johnson are twins who attended public schools in Washington, D.C. They have five siblings who all had reading difficulties. Both Sandra and Sammie kept their reading difficulties a secret. They could memorize words quite successfully, but they could not read any unfamiliar words. For example, Sandra could easily read the word job but had no idea how to read the word jab. She could read Farragut, the name of a Metro station in D.C., but she couldn’t read the word gut. — Sandra was in her early 30s when she went to the Washington Literacy Council for help. Learning that letters spell sounds was the key for Sandra to learn to read. After Sandra’s reading skills soared, she encouraged Sammie to get a tutor from the Council. Both Sandra and Sammie are now proficient readers. — Sandra and Sammie speak nationally about literacy to teachers, parents, and students. Their story of going to school every day without knowing how to read is heart-wrenching. Their story of learning to read as adults is informative for teachers. And their accomplishments since learning to read are inspiring.
Concurrent Session Description
Growing Up Illiterate: The Stories of Two Lifelong Learners Who Persevered and Learned to Read as Adults
Sammie Johnson and Sandra Johnson
(Special Ed, Dyslexia, Other Learning Challenges, Equity & Inclusion, ELL, Coaching/Instructional Support, Leadership, General Science of Reading)
Sandra and Sammie are two remarkable people who learned to read as adults. They are twins, but they had very different school experiences. Sandra dropped out of school after the 9th grade. She could only memorize words and was essentially illiterate. Sammie learned to read a little in school and even graduated. The good news is that both learned to read well as adults—Sandra when she was 28, and Sammie when he was 33. These two inspiring people share their stories of going to school, coping in the workplace, hiding their secret from friends and family, and other difficulties that we who are readers can’t imagine. They also share how they learned to read as adults and what it was that opened the door to literacy for them. Teachers will be inspired anew to teach every student to read, no matter what the student’s age. You are apt to both laugh and cry in this session.
Target Audience: Early Childhood (Birth – 4 years), Elementary, Middle/Jr. High, High School
Education Track(s): New to the Science of Reading, Advanced Science of Reading, Equity & Inclusion, Leadership