Educator Gets Dyslexia-Focused Teaching Strategies That Work

After spending 27 years as an elementary educator, Jodi Fuentez is well equipped to handle whatever might come her way in the classroom. A resource teacher at Madison Elementary in Des Moines, Jodi has taught in both special education and classroom settings. As trained and experienced as she was, there were still some students that were not able to make the learning progress that she desired.

Each year she encountered some kids who struggled with learning to read, write and spell. Some could read but couldn’t understand what they read. Others stumbled aloud through a page yet had no trouble understanding what they read. Writing often looked like gibberish that no one, including the child who wrote it, could decipher.

Continual search for the right strategies

Jodi was continually on the lookout for different ways to help her struggling students. She was determined to find a way to build the foundation that these kids needed to be successful and confident, in school and in the future.

“I knew that there was something going on with these children that I really needed to focus in on because they’re not being successful with their reading,” said Jodi

Successful dyslexia reading strategies

When Jodi learned about the continuing education course on dyslexia at True Potential Education, she had already been rallying her colleagues at Madison Elementary to learn more about this learning difference. Four teachers signed up for the five-day course taught by Nina Lorimor-Easley and Amy Dahlke in West Des Moines.


Five days of intense learning is a lot to absorb, but Jodi felt that the way that Nina and Amy structured the course to move from background, to strategies, to hands-on curriculum activities maximized their learning time. The level of knowledge that both Amy and Nina brought to the discussion was only rivaled by their passion for bringing advocacy and learning success to kids with the dyslexia.

“The pace of the course was very well done,” said Jodi. “It made sense from the very beginning until we could actually take what we learned in the first couple of days and apply it to the curriculum.”

Teacher gained confidence along with strategies

The faces of her former students came to mind as Jodi learned about the ways that dyslexia shows up in learning and behavior. In previous years she wouldn’t always find success with the teaching methods she tried. What she learned from Nina and Amy gave her the confidence that her students could and would be successful.

As a resource teacher supporting third to fifth grade students, Jodi was not only interested in foundation teaching methods for students with dyslexia but was eager to learn about assistive technology that she could bring to her students to help them get the comprehension that their classmates were getting by taking reading out of the equation. By the end of the week, Jodi could hardly wait for the new school year to start so she could put the strategies to work.


Jodi has a year of teaching under her belt since she took the True Potential Education CEU course. Fortunately for her, her district also brought in Orton-Gillingham training, and she feels that the TPE course was a perfect setup to go deeper with the additional training. The stories she now tells about her students have a much different flavor.

“Tyler” was in fourth grade when Jodi first started working with him. Jodi knew that he showed all kinds of signs of dyslexia. His oral knowledge was off the charts, yet he had a first-grade reading level and could not read back to you anything that he had written.

“I felt like I failed him that year,” Jodi said. “And I knew that there had to be more options for teaching strategies.”

Tyler’s fifth grade year has been an amazing turning point because of the dyslexia focused training that Jodi and her colleagues received. At first, he was a little reluctant to try the strategies but once he got started he actually wanted to use them and began to show confidence and pride in his work. By the end of the year, he had moved up a grade level in his reading, and he could now read what he had written.

Non-reader to read aloud volunteer

Another student came to Jodi with extremely negative feelings about reading, saying -- he couldn’t read; he didn’t like reading. By the end of the year, this child went to read to his former teachers to show them how much progress he had made. He even read aloud to a small group of students. The year’s growth in reading ability was significant, but the change in attitude was life changing.

Jodi is still an advocate for meeting the needs for students with dyslexia at her school, but she has seen attitudes turn around as the track record of success with students has grown. It hasn’t been just the students who have grown in confidence. Jodi herself has the tools she needs to focus on the kids who learn in a different way.

When she completed the CEU course last summer she said, “I know this is going to be successful. I know this is going to work.”

And it has.

Ready to make a bigger difference?

Learn how you can get the successful strategies that help struggling students in your classroom learn with True Potential Education's CEU course.

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