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As a mother and an elementary teacher with 16 years in the field, Claire Krock felt helpless. Her daughter continued to struggle to learn how to read despite her best efforts. It wasn’t until she was privately assessed and diagnosed with dyslexia in the 4th grade that she was finally able to get her daughter the help she needed.

The diagnosis changed her daughter’s life and gave Krock a new perspective on how to help her students. She finally understood why there were handfuls of students in her classroom over the years that she was never able to reach. Students who didn’t respond to techniques used in a general classroom setting were often recommended for special education. The insight that she gained from her daughter’s experience inspired her to try to change the available pathways for struggling readers in our local public schools.

Fast-forward to September 2017. Santa Barbara Unified School District has launched a pilot program at Harding Elementary School to help struggling readers and literacy specialist Claire Krock is at the helm. The program uses research-based methods in a small group instructional setting of students displaying characteristics of dyslexia.

After just a few short months, the pilot program yielded impressive results. Students who were unable to read the most basic text are not only decoding the written word but developing a love of reading. Student confidence and self-worth are rapidly rising along with their word count. So much so, that SBUSD would like to expand the program to additional school sites in the coming school year.

Enter the Women’s Fund. Since 2004, the Women’s Fund has awarded over $6.6 million to programs benefiting women, children, and families in Santa Barbara County. This year, they donated $50,000 to Santa Barbara Education Foundation to help expand SBUSD’s intervention program for struggling readers. This critical support will establish the program at McKinley Elementary next school year in hopes of changing learning outcomes for an entirely new group of students.