The need for an all-inclusive dyslexia center in Boulder County has become more apparent in recent years. Admissions requests continue to climb annually with a 35% increase from 2021to 2022. Learning evaluations are in hot demand with wait lists on average of six months to a year long. Additionally, educators are not prepared to meet the needs of dyslexic students in their classrooms as college and graduate level courses for educators often do not include instruction on working with students with dyslexia or other language-based learning differences.
Hillside’s desire to make an ever greater impact on the local dyslexic community led Hillside’s Board of Trustees and administrative team to create a comprehensive strategic plan that will guide Hillside over the next five years. The team determined that the greatest way to expand Hillside’s impact is to focus on the three following areas: administering assessments and screenings for early intervention; growth of the current program to meet increasing admission demands; and professional development training for local teachers.
First, by offering learning evaluations Hillside will help relieve some of the demand in the greater Denver area so more kids are given the proper diagnosis sooner. Whether it leads a child to an IEP or 504 Plan, working one-on-one with a reading specialist, or enrollment in a speciality school, we can assure that the proper intervention plan will be in place as soon as possible. Additionally Hillside offers a unique niche in assessment, by linking the findings from assessment to how those particular strengths and challenges tend to show up for the student in classroom learning.
Next, by increasing the number of classrooms and grades served will allow Hillside to enroll more students than our current space allows. Everyday, Hillside receives calls from parents in desperation, hoping to reserve a spot that no longer exists. Dyslexia impacts a student both in and out of the classroom, shattering their confidence, impacting their emotional well-being, and creating a ripple effect that is felt throughout the entire family. Parents often report that attending Hillside has brought back the child they remember and offered relief to the family. By increasing the number of classrooms and grades served, Hillside can help more families instead of having to turn them away because of lack of space.
Finally, in order to make this plan completely comprehensive it is critical to expand Hillside’s reach to the local public and private school teachers. Although an estimated one in every five students is impacted by dyslexia, most college and graduate level teacher programs do not offer specific training in dyslexia. It is still common for the dyslexic student to be falsely labeled as lazy or told to just “try harder”. Hillside’s professional development courses for local educators seek to increase awareness and understanding of dyslexia as well as the ways in which it can impact learning across all subject areas. In this way, Hillside can expand its reach to students beyond its walls as local educators learn strategies and accommodations that create more equitable learning opportunities. Even simple shifts in the perception of the dyslexic learner will make a big impact on preserving the confidence of our students.