Parents Day Event

Empowering Parents of Struggling Readers A Collaborative Event 11/16/2019

A collaborative event to support the parents of children who struggle to read


Decoding Dyslexia Tennessee logo        International Dyslexia Association Tennessee Branch Logo      MTSU Center for Dyslexia Branding Mark


Empowering Parents of Struggling Readers

Join us in person or online for a day of information, support, and strategies to help your child within the school setting. While this event is parent focused, all are welcome to attend.

Date: November 16, 2019

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. CST



MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN


Bodine School, Germantown, TN


Jefferson City Public Library, Jefferson City, TN


Church of God Prophecy, Crab Orchard, TN


Bearden United Methodist Church, Knoxville, TN


 Attend Online


8:30 - 10:15 a.m.

Keynote Address

Read the room: Developing social and emotional skills for young people with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities.*

Bradley Rogers, Headmaster, The Gow School

M Bradley Rogers Headmaster The Gow SchoolDyslexia mostly impacts reading and writing.   However, this language-based learning challenge can also impact one’s ability to read the room.   How do we as teachers deliver instruction beyond reading and writing? Sometimes our LD students misread social cues and often find themselves rejected by their peers.   What are we doing in the classroom and in the lunchroom/playground to teach our students the all mighty social code in order to make friends and keep friends?  We know LD can sometimes cut to the core, leaving emotional trauma and scars (which could last for decades).  How are we guiding our children to be resilient, while we ask them to persevere through school?  In this discussion, we will share stories and strategies to help our types of students achieve success socially during extra-curricular activities, the Cub Scout meeting, the birthday party, the sleepover, or at the local swimming pool.   Teaching and coaching children with LD goes way beyond the classroom and the phonics cards.     Be ready to share, laugh, and cry as we trek the journey of raising children with dyslexia and related reading challenges.

M. Bradley Rogers, Jr. is in his 16th year as the sixth Headmaster of The Gow School.  He and his family reside on the campus which is located in South Wales, NY.  The Gow School is the nation’s oldest college preparatory school for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities.    Prior to his headship at The Gow School, Mr. Rogers was the first elected headmaster of The Odyssey School in Baltimore, MD.  He served his headship at Odyssey for eight years. During 1989-1996, Mr. Rogers was Dean of Students at Lawrence School in Cleveland, OH.  Mr. Rogers holds a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from University of Dayton and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University.  Mr. Rogers enjoys family time with his wife, Anne, and their four sons.  He is also an accomplished marathon runner.    Additionally, Brad is a certified Baptiste Yoga Instructor.


 10:15 - 10:30 a.m.  Break

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

Session 1:

Building Knowledge and Confidence as Your Child’s Advocate*

Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALP

Erin Alexander Assistant Director for Clinical ServicesWhat can the school do to help when your child is having trouble learning to read? How do you request support for your child? Schools seem to have their own language when describing programs and services. Learning these new terms, acronyms, and procedures can be overwhelming. We will discuss the range of supports and services available in the school setting, along with the requirements of state and federal laws designed to identify and provide intervention for students with reading difficulties, including those with characteristics of dyslexia. The goal is to increase your knowledge so you can be a more confident and effective advocate for your child.

Erin Alexander is Assistant Director for Clinical Services at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She trains and supervises graduate assistants who conduct assessments at the center, consults with parents and school personnel regarding how to best identify and support students with reading difficulties, provides workshops for parents, and delivers professional development to school personnel. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who previously worked in that role for a Tennessee school district. Erin is a member of the Tennessee Dyslexia Advisory Council, which was established in 2016 to advise the Tennessee Department of Education on matters related to dyslexia. Ms. Alexander is also a Certified Academic Language Practitioner who provides intervention to students with characteristics of dyslexia.


 11:45 - 12:45 p.m

Lunch Break (on your own)

12:45 - 1:45 p.m.

Session 2:

Accommodations and Self-Advocacy*

Allison McAvoyAccommodations can benefit struggling readers by increasing their access to grade-level material and by helping them to demonstrate what they have learned. We will discover the types of accommodations that are useful to students who have difficulty with reading and writing skills and how these differ from modifications. We will learn the differences between IEPs and 504 plans, which are legal documents that list a student’s accommodations. We will discuss some ways to work with the school team to ensure accommodations are being followed, and we will learn how to prepare students to advocate for themselves.

Allison McAvoy, M.Ed., W.C.T., W.D.T., S.L.D.T.

Allison McAvoy is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Southeast Reading Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is Orton-Gillingham® trained and is a Wilson Credentialed Trainer® and Wilson Dyslexia Therapist®. She has most recently obtained certification with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Therapist®. Allison has many years of experience in special education and spent eleven years as Lead Teacher for the Hamilton County Education Department. She is currently serving as Area 3 Director for the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association and as a member of the Tennessee Dyslexia Advisory Council.

 1:45 - 2:00 p.m.


2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Session 3:

Understanding Structured Literacy Instruction through the 5 Ws

Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D. CALP

Melinda Hirschmann Assistant Director for Educational Outreach and School OutreachStructured Literacy instruction exemplifies an evidence-based direct, explicit, and systematic approach to phonics and literacy instruction. This overview of Structured Literacy will answer some fundamental questions:  Who benefits from Structured Literacy instruction? What exactly is taught? Where should my child get this kind of instruction? When should students receive Structured Literacy instruction? Why is this an effective approach to reading instruction?  We will clearly define terms associated with evidence-based reading instruction and provide examples of what this kind of instruction looks like when given to your child.

As Assistant Director for Educational Services and School Outreach at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia, Melinda collaborates with Tennessee schools to provide professional development for reading instruction and intervention in grades K-12. Additionally, she conducts student assessments for characteristics of dyslexia and regularly tutors children using structured literacy instruction. She also instructs aspiring special education teachers as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned her Master of Education degree in Special Education from Tennessee State University and her Doctor of Education degree from Lipscomb University. She had the pleasure and challenge of working with adolescent struggling readers as a middle school special education reading interventionist for 10 years. Melinda is a Certified Academic Language Practitioner and a board member of the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

3:00 - 3:30 p.m.

Session 4:

Panel Discussion

Moderator: Carmen O'Connor, WDCP

The panel discussion will provide an opportunity for our attendees to ask additional questions of the speakers.

Carmen O’Connor has a private practice tutoring students of all ages. She is a Dyslexia Practitioner certified by Wilson, Lindamood-Bell and CERI with over 25 years of experience. Carmen lives with her family on a farm full of animals in White County. She is currently the president of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

*Presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Twitter icon Facebook icon  Instagram icon

Stay up to date on our events 

Join our listserv

Support the Center


Important Events 

2021-22 Dyslexia Success Series

2021-22 Dyslexia Success Series

Ask an Expert: A Virtual Q&A Session for Parents

Ask an Expert: A Virtual Q&A Session for Parents

Fox Reading Conference

Save the Date for the Fox Reading Conference March 26, 2022