July 3, 2023, AL DIA: Celebrate dyslexia schools receive charter approval in San Antonio https://aldianews.com/en/education/education/celebrate-dyslexia-schools-0
After a hectic week, the Texas State Board of Education has officially granted charter approval to Celebrate Dyslexia Schools — Texas’s first school dedicated to providing targeted support and education for dyslexia students. Set to open in Fall 2024, this tuition-free charter school will be the first of its kind in San Antonio.
Serving dyslexic students in grades 4-8 on the Southwest Side of San Antonio, it aims to ensure this population has the appropriate attention and support they deserve.
AL DÍA heard from Flor Gutierrez, superintendent of Celebrate Dyslexia Schools, about the current scenario of dyslexic students in the region and the challenges students face. CAREER
Gutierrez began her educational career in the Southside of San Antonio, always working intentionally with at-risk populations and emerging bilingual students. After 10 years as a duo language teacher, her daughter — who was a first grader at the time — started to have learning difficulties.
“I couldn't figure out what was going on with her, so I went on this journey looking for solutions for my daughter,” she said. Gutierrez pursued a master’s in special education and became a certified academic language therapist and an educational diagnostician. A couple of degrees later, her daughter was finally able to get the help she needed. All services and identification were done privately, as her school district wasn’t equipped or couldn’t look into the learning difficulties she was experiencing, diagnose her, and provide the interventions she needed.
After years of working as a classroom teacher, Gutierrez decided to make a move to reinvent herself careerwise. In her current position as superintendent, she implements the dyslexic curriculum district-wide and services for students, trains teachers that want to become dyslexia therapists and is working on building capacity in the city and school districts that need people specialized in these areas to help emerging bilingual students.
DYSLEXIA AND BILINGUALISM
Considering the increase in the English language learner population in Texas, Celebrate Dyslexia schools come to prevent dyslexic students from being diagnosed because teachers aren’t properly trained to identify it — misjudging that the students are simply struggling with learning a new language.
Sometimes students aren’t just struggling with a new language; they have a disability. When assessing an emergent bilingual student, educators must be familiar with the differences in the characteristics of the Spanish and English language structures and writing systems — as well as how the characteristics of dyslexia show up in both of them. …
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that 4.5% of students in Region 20, which oversees San Antonio, received dyslexia services. However, Gutierrez says research shows that 1 in 5 students has dyslexia, bringing the identification close to 20% — meaning that around 71,000 students in the region are not getting the proper support they need. …