The Rolph family behind Rolph Literacy Academy.

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The passion that fuels Dee Rolph grew over a lifetime with her husband Darrel. He started out as a teacher in Great Bend, Kansas, where he loved working with the kids who struggled to learn. Even though his career changed to entrepreneur and businessman, Darrel retained his love of working with kids as a coach.

 

Darrel and Dee’s success was rooted in Wichita, and they immediately began to give back, supporting numerous organizations, all of which centered on helping young people. They loved the outdoors, fishing and family. Their own family was affected with dyslexia in profound and sad ways. When Darrel died, Dee decided to honor his life with a legacy that reflected who he was. That led her to Phillips Fundamental Learning Center (PFLC).

 

Here, teachers were being trained to teach struggling readers, children who couldn’t read were being taught to read, and Jeanine Phillips and Gretchen Andeel had an amazing vision that could change the world for children. Dee’s urge to get something done is leading this campaign. The threads all can be seen in the laboratory school, the enhanced teacher education program, the inspiring outdoor setting and the beauty of the building—everything that touches the hearts, souls and minds of the children here and children far away.

 

The Darrel & Dee Rolph Literacy Academy (RLA) is a school like no other, and it will light the way for other schools and for other children.

 

RLA offers a complete curriculum including math, science, social studies, art physical education, dance, music, theater and more. But, its primary goal is to teach children—especially those with dyslexia—how to read, write and spell successfully, so they will be able to return to a mainstream school after 24 months with RLA. Here, highly qualified teachers offer hope through the delivery of proven, research-based curriculum and multisensory instruction necessary to unlock reading.

RLA provides one hour per day of Alphabetic Phonics five days a week. This is an ungraded multisensory curriculum based on the Orton-Gillingham approach that teaches the structure of the English language. This literacy program is taught with one teacher for every four students. Our instructors are Certified Academic Language Therapists or working toward that certification.

RLA classrooms do not look like traditional classrooms, because students often are participating in hands-on, creative activities that work best to teach students who learn differently. Teachers do not give paper-and-pencil tests or homework. Instead, they assess each student on an individual basis with weekly reports.

Many of the students arrive scared, worried, skeptical and ashamed. They blame themselves for their struggles with reading.  They lack confidence with letters, letter sounds and vocabulary words heard and spoken. They may have been made to feel dumb or told they lack motivation and effort.

As students progress through these unique and specialized programs, they begin to believe in their abilities. RLA gives children control of their learning process through visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities. These methods give students confidence to learn without failure. Small successes build upon each other and become big successes.

RLA forms a PARTNERSHIP with its students, capitalizing on their strengths and striving to understand how they think and process new information and respond to challenges. This empowers students who are then:

•    Allowed to DISCOVER new learning rather than having it forced upon them

•    Allowed to fully EXPERIENCE new learning

•    ASKED what they are thinking

•    LISTENED to as they make connections, ask questions, process new learning, and share their “aha” moments and challenges

Dyslexia cannot be cured. It is a neuro-biological fingerprint. But we can teach children with dyslexia how to read, write and spell sufficiently to succeed in a traditional school setting with accommodations. RLA students not only leave our school with these necessary skills, but also with an understanding of how they learn, how to advocate for their learning style and with the confidence and self-esteem necessary for continued education and a successful life. RLA focuses on strengths rather than deficits. Its students leave with a real sense of their unique abilities and “superpowers.”

 

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