St. Patrick Catholic High School Dyslexia Program helps students achieve their goals

The St. Patrick Catholic High School Dyslexia Program is unique in its offerings. This course is taught as an extension of the 3D school, which is the lab school for William Carey University and is designed for dyslexic students that are college bound.

Traci Barrientos is the instructor for this course and is recognized by the International Dyslexia Association as a Level II Dyslexia Therapist, the highest level of certification offered. She is also a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) through ALTA and holds a Master of Education degree in Dyslexia Therapy from William Carey University.

She says, “As the mother of a dyslexic child, I understand first-hand the unique struggles this style of learner experiences. I strongly felt called to work with students who have dyslexia after my children went off to college and my responsibilities to their learning had ended. I homeschooled my children due to a lack of programs for dyslexic learners. While in the homeschool community, a unique opportunity presented itself for me to represent a small language arts company at conventions throughout the southern states. I met numerous families who also had left the traditional school setting to provide more personalized approaches for their dyslexic children. I found myself teaching these parents how to pursue meaningful learning opportunities at home. Then, William Carey opened a Masters Degree in Dyslexia Therapy, and I knew I could make a difference in traditional education. I naturally gravitated to the Catholic school system because that is where my teaching career began over 20 years ago.”

She continues, “While studying at William Carey, I organized an event with Dr. Cena Holifield, my son Jonathan, and Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society at MGCCC, to host a community-wide presentation for educators and parents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast on dyslexia. My friend, Sr. Kathleen Bryne, who knew my story, sent Pam Pannel to that meeting. Pam was moved by the desperation of these parents. She and I began talking, and I volunteered to screen students at St. James Elementary that October. One thing led to another and within a short time, my phone was ringing continually with parents looking for help. Thus my vocation of a dyslexia therapist began. I love being able to share my faith and my passions of learning with this amazingly creative and talented pool of students. They always inspire me to be a better person through their fortitude. Many of them are gifted, though they don’t believe it. They are talented athletes, creative writers (yes, writers), artists and deep thinkers. If I can help chip away at the walls that hold them back from reaching their full potential, then I consider that time well spent. And society is the ultimate benefactor of these students’  talents being unleashed in the world. I absolutely love this work!

Within the program, students are engaged in a thoughtful learning environment.

One student within the program said, “The program helps me with grammar, reading, my speech, spelling and vocabulary. I can read so much better now. The program also helped my grades go up so much. You [Mrs. Barrientos] helped us learn cursive and write it. Thank you so much with your hard work by teaching things slower and different for our brains to understand. You have been my favorite teacher and always will be.”

Another student wrote, “Dyslexia therapy has changed the way I approach school, in many ways. At the beginning of fourth grade I started my dyslexia therapy in the mornings with Mrs. Barrientos. She taught us so many things that have made spelling, writing and lots of other classes a little bit easier. My hope for the future is that I can take the lessons Mrs. Barrientos has taught us and continue to grow!”