Category Archives: Success

After 45 years of feeling worthless

This is why adults are my favorite type of student: 

Howard will be graduating from Level 10 of the Barton System in a few weeks.

Howard is an adult who was referred to us from a literacy center because they were not able to help him.

When Howard was young and in school, he was teased mercilessly because he could not read. He defended himself the only way he knew how — with his fists. The schoolyard scuffles turned into street fights, knife fights, and jail time.

When he came to us, he could not read the word “cat.”

He did not pass your student screening, so I had to start him with LiPS program and then took him into Level 1. He made slow but steady progress, although he considered dropping out because he felt the early words were too babyish. Luckily, he stuck with it, and he continued to improve.

Once, when we were walking out, I said to him, “You’re getting a little better each day.” He replied, “And I’m holding my head a little higher each day.” After 45 years of feeling worthless, he finally started feeling good about himself.

I wish I could say this story has a happy ending. Sadly, last April, Howard was diagnosed with ALS and the doctors only gave him 1-2 years. It’s been hard watching this once big, strong man deteriorate so much. He’s lost most of the control of his muscles, but his mind still works. We’ve been working very hard to finish the Barton System before the inevitable occurs.

I’m happy to say Howard will complete the entire Barton program in a few weeks. This is important because Howard has never achieved any scholastic success of any kind in his life. Your graduation certificate will be his first diploma of any kind.

Of the hundreds of students I’ve seen at the Dyslexia Reading Connection, none have made me more proud than Howard. He’s worked his tail off despite ever increasing obstacles, he’s never complained, and he’s always worked hard. I’m so happy to see him finally succeed in an academic pursuit.

Peter Ducklow
Dyslexia Reading Connection
Appleton, WI

Early Intervention Works

This parent got Barton tutoring for her son in kindergarten — and it quickly healed his emotional scars. 

Susan, I heard you speak about dyslexia in Appleton when my son was 5.

At the beginning of kindergarten, he was already saying that he hated himself because he was stupid — because he couldn’t read like the other kids. I was shocked to hear him say it with such strong emotion at that young age.

He’s now had a year of Barton tutoring at the Dyslexia Reading Connection Center.

If only if you could have been a fly on the wall at his last parent-teacher conference. He’s starting to read and is proud of what he’s accomplishing. He’s happy, confident, and a leader in his Montessori classroom.

And best of all, he WANTS to learn. That spark was not extinguished.

We are amazed and so deeply grateful for his progress.

Things are going really well, and I believe he’s going to continue having the school experience every child so deserves — where they feel safe and accepted, even if they learn differently.

And I’m so grateful to you for dedicating your life to dyslexia awareness and education.

Alison Garl
Appleton, WI

Soar with success

I love it when schools spend a year doing a pilot program using the Barton System – because I know the results will be great. And next year, the school will expand the program, as this teacher shared: 

Susan, with your help and guidance through our first year using the Barton Reading & Spelling System, we have had students soar with growth.

We have seen discouraged, defeated parents turn into encouraged and hopeful parents. Students beam when they feel and see how much they have accomplished over the year.

For instance, a 4th grader started the year reading at a 2.9 grade level. After seven months of doing the Barton System, she is now reading at a 5.1 grade level.

We want to thank you so much.  We will be forever grateful to you and your program.

And it’s only the beginning!

Valena Taber, Education Coordinator
South Columbia Family School
Warren, OR

Ann was “not bad enough” to qualify

When you homeschool your child, you can do Barton tutoring every day and close the gap much faster — as this parent shared: 

Thank you for making a way for me to help my daughter, Ann. We just finished the entire Barton Reading & Spelling System.

When my daughter was in 5th grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. But she was “not bad enough” to qualify for any special help in the school. Yet she was falling further and further behind each year.

I was a stay-at-home mom, so I did not have the financial resources to hire a private tutor.

Instead, I pulled her out of her full-time public school, and found a hybrid school that has your program, The Summit Academy in Colorado. I never would have had the confidence to even try to help Ann without your “scripted” lesson plans, and her teacher, Angela Dormish, who gave Ann your posttest at the end of each level.

It took us two years, but we finished. I feel closer to Ann than I have in years.

Ann will now go back into the classroom equipped with the skills she needs.

I write this letter through grateful tears. May God richly bless you for your incredible work.

Becky Worthley
Westminster, CO

I homeschooled my severely dyslexic son

Our dyslexic kids can do well in college courses, as this parents shares:

I just had to share a success story with people who will understand what it means.

My son is severely dyslexic and was not diagnosed until he was almost 11. At that point, he could not even write simple sentences, and I was homeschooling him.

We just completed Level 10 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System in March.

David is in 9th grade and is taking three courses at the local community college as a concurrent enrollment student: World History, Biology, and Psychology. It has been a challenging semester, but the school has been wonderful about providing accommodations and most professors have been supportive.

He’s doing well in all his classes, but today was a special success. David brought home his research paper for history — the first research paper he’s ever had to write, and it required many primary and secondary sources. He earned 98/100 points!!!

I just about fell over!

I am so proud of his hard work and so thankful for the Barton System and for a school and teachers who are willing to provide needed accommodations. It just shows you what our students can do when they are given what they need.

I hope this encourages some of you who are just beginning this journey.

Michelle Chambra, former homeschool parent
now a Certified Barton Tutor
Redwood City, CA

I would never have guessed he was dyslexic

This is why Early Intervention — of the right type and intensity — is so important.

Travis never attended public school because I realized that he showed the same symptoms of dyslexia that my older son did at that age.

So I homeschooled Travis and started him on the Barton program as soon as he was old enough. I was already using it with his older brother and having good results.

Recently, Travis began expressing a desire to go to 2nd grade public school with his friends, which I figured would happen eventually. So, I took him up to our local elementary school. The teachers, principal, and counselor were great. They took him on a tour of the school, let him observe a class, and even let him play on the playground for a while. He felt right at home and decided he might like to try public school for the last six weeks of the year — even though I did explain to Travis that he would have to continue doing Barton 3x per week after school.

Of course, the first thing the school staff wanted to do was placement testing. The reading specialist evaluated his reading level as approximately 3.0 grade level. She did mention that she thought his fluency was lacking as he read from one line of text to the next and encouraged me to read aloud to him daily.

I then shared the testing we had done with a private dyslexia interventionist who said that although he was young, it was her best opinion that he was pretty severely dyslexic. I also shared some of the results of his testing, such as being at the 2nd percentile for phonemic awareness.

Then I explained how we had been using a combination of the Barton System (which she was not familiar with, but she knew of OG), and occupational therapy for the dysgraphia for almost three years. The more I talked, the wider her eyes got.

She finally said, “I had no idea that what you are saying you have done could actually be done. I see these kids come through here with such low skills, and they get further and further behind. It scars them for life, and they never recover from it. I would have never guessed that he was dyslexic. He didn’t mix up a single sound while he was reading. I’ve never known anyone who has actually fixed it.”

Mind you, we live in Texas, where dyslexic students receive “daily intervention” from our public schools. Sadly, it is often ineffective, as it was with my oldest son, who could not read CVC words in 3rd grade despite their “intervention.”

I wish I had known how to help my oldest son before he had the chance to feel like a failure, but I just didn’t know what to do.

Thank you so much for bringing awareness and education to parents about the dyslexia community, updates about the latest research of brain imaging, and best teaching practices.

Most of all, thank you for giving my son a chance to show the world what a bright boy he is. I’m still not sure if he will go to that school or if we will continue homeschooling, but I do know that either way, he will be a success because of your program and his hard work.

Alison Teal
Troy, TX

Accepting Dyslexia

I love getting emails from successful Barton students – who want to give hope and encouragement to others who are just starting this journey. Here’s one from Kate. 

My name is Kate Schaefer, and I am dyslexic. I have been through the Barton System and let me tell you, it has done wonders.

I wrote this about the wonders of fighting, and eventually accepting, dyslexia. If I had read this when I was first diagnosed, it would have helped me so much emotionally along the way. Feel free to share it with anyone.

Dyslexia, defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing.

This definition is undeniably verifiable and familiar to most people. However, roughly 15% of Americans have an understanding a bit beyond Webster’s description. They better comprehend, and are more comfortable with this word, because they have been at war with this genetic mutation their whole life. And I am one of the 15%.

Why did this happen? How come me and not my siblings? I don’t know. But I do know one thing. Although at times mind shatteringly challenging, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

As I consider my personality, the obstacles I have had to overcome, and the immense amount of effort I have had to put forward, I know that something that has instilled this much strength, creativity, and determination in me could never be a bad thing.

Dyslexia has made me into the strong independent trooper I am today, and I hope that the other 15% of Americans see it this way as well.

My countless hours of tutoring, my recurring feeling of loss, and my constant need to put my best foot forward in order to succeed finally paid off. I went from a fourth grader unable to read the word “supply” to the winner of the Modern Woodmen Oration Contest.

I didn’t just start to succeed in academic classes, but in the Fine Arts as well. My dyslexia drove a passion for crafts, sewing, music, and decorating – like it has in many other dyslexics.

I am changed completely because of this, and I have made a decision to allow myself to fall in love with that fact.

I could be singing the same old “Why me?” song 5 years later.

But instead I am saying, “Why am I so lucky that I am a stronger, more creative woman than I would have been?”

Kate Schaefer

Another hero

This woman is another one of my heroes.

My own dyslexia was a gift from God. Meeting you was another. Thank you for all you have done to change the lives of children and their families.

Over the past decade, I have personally witnessed the success of over one hundred students whom I have tutored using the Barton System.

One of my former students graduated valedictorian and is now in vet school.

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Another took herself out of special ed classes when she was in 8th grade, and she graduated with honors last year. She actually said to me, “You saved my life.”

Another worked as a night cleaner at a fast-food restaurant until he could read all the items on the menu. He was then promoted to trainer of the night cleaners. Eventually he changed jobs to become a line cook at a fancy restaurant. This young man, who began the Barton System when he was a senior in high school, now works for a well-known soda company, is married, and has 2 children.

Yet at age 18, when we started, he said, “I will never learn how to read and write. My teachers say I have a learning disability, and that’s why I am so dumb.”

After I left the public school system, I began a ministry at my church called 3H Tutoring: Help, Hope and Honor for Struggling Readers. My pastors are very supportive and have announced this ministry to the congregation.

We now have 17 students and 3 tutors: myself and 2 trained volunteers. We have seen remarkable gains in our students’ standardized test scores, an incredible gain in their self-confidence, and a newly-found love of books and literature.

Thank you for helping me save the lives, and change the future, of these wonderful students.

TerraBeth Jochems
Founder of 3H Tutoring
Billings, MT

Start now. Don’t Wait.

I am thrilled when parents follow my advice – and then let me know,  years later, what impact it had on their children, as this parent did. 

Susan Barton saves lives daily. She is one of the lights in the dyslexia world because she cares, and like the dyslexic people she helps, she FINDS A WAY to get things done.

I love and respect Susan Barton for all she has done for our family. I homeschooled my gifted and profoundly dyslexic sons using the Barton Reading & Spelling System.

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They are now in high school, earning college credits. One is captain of the Lacrosse team. They have started a mentoring program in their high school for kids who are dyslexic, and they are a part of a Teacher Training program at the university.

They are alive, thriving, and making an impact on the world because Susan Barton took the time to talk with me, encourage me, and provide me with the tools necessary for my children to reach their FULL potential.

Her system is solid. It is accessible to the uncertain, untrained, confused, scared parent who wants their child to soar.

START NOW.  DON’T WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE !

I followed that advice from Susan Barton, and now as the founder of Decoding Dyslexia Montana, and a trained advocate, speaker, teacher trainer, and tutor, I preach the same. START NOW . . . regardless of what the school does or does not do.

Take care of your child.

Kelly Fedge-Dubose, Founder
Decoding Dyslexia Montana

It took until 5th grade . . .

It should not take this long but sadly, it often does, as this parent shared: 

We started our journey in first grade, when our daughter’s teacher shared that she was not grasping reading concepts as fast as she should. I was shocked because I had read to her since she was a baby, and books were a big part of our home.

For the rest of that school year, we spent many long, tearful evenings trying to teach her the sight words. We would go over and over and over them, but she could not retain them.

We also spent at least two hours every night doing homework, and practicing her reading.

Despite that, at the beginning of third grade, she was only reading 27 words per minute – which was at the bottom of her class.

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She also struggled with spelling. I got her list several days early, so we would have extra time to learn the words. It did not help.

Over the years, the teachers said, “It will click one of these days,” or “She is young for her grade,” and “You are doing all the right things at home.” Yet year after year, she spent many long, tearful nights doing homework.

When I asked if she might have a learning disability, the answer was always, “No.”

In fifth grade, we hit a wall. That year, she spent four to five hours a week studying her spelling words – just to get a D.

She also got a D in Social Studies, even though I read the textbook out loud to her, because her vocabulary was way behind.

She began to have problems with her peers, partly due to her very low self-esteem.

At the end of some of our homework battles, she began to say she should be dead because she was useless. She stayed up late every night due to anxiety, and she developed depression. We knew we had to do something, but we did not know the cause of her academic struggles.

Then a friend at a party suggested she might have dyslexia. Our life changed that very day.

We decided to homeschool, which our daughter had been begging us to do since first grade, and we began using the Barton System as our language arts curriculum.

I have watched her grow into an amazing person.

I will never forget the day she started reading road signs out loud.

When she finished Level 6, I shared she could now start reading textbooks on her own. For her social studies assignment, there was a five page story to read, then an outline to complete, and comprehension questions to answer. She proudly completed all of it by herself. That was a HUGE self-esteem boost, and it has shown up in all areas of her life.

She now reads books for fun, and she is finally understanding how to spell words.

Homeschool is getting less time consuming as her vocabulary grows because we don’t have to explain as many words before we move forward. She is also better able to recall terms and ideas.

Only a year and a half ago, she was labeled “functionally illiterate.”

I can not thank you enough, Susan Barton, for saving my daughter and bringing my family such peace and happiness!

Please feel free to share our story to bring hope to other families who are still struggling.

Teresa Danelski
Sturgeon Lake, MN

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