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High school student shares 'super powers' to engage students with dyslexia

A high school student’s willingness to volunteer working with children with dyslexia for nearly five solid days resulted in a music video the kids will not soon forget.

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Hope spent a week working with younger children with dyslexia to make a video of the kids rapping the popular children’s book “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

No one forced him to volunteer or even had to twist his arm.

“The more I came here, the more I had fun with the kids,” Hope said.

The students at Rolph Literacy Academy at Fundamental Learning Center in Wichita, Kansas, are ages 5-10, and each of them has dyslexia. The school is designed to teach to their strengths using multisensory teaching — or teaching using visual, auditory and kinesthetic techniques — and many projects are hands on.

When Caleb’s mother Tammi Hope, an instructor at RLA, told him about a project she was considering that involved rapping a children’s book, Caleb told his mom she needed his services.

“I have always kind of liked video,” Caleb said. And he started making music in middle school when his older brother introduced him to the idea.

“Our dad used to make music, and that was kind of the influence,” he said. “I produce the beats. I like to be known more as a musician than a rapper.”

Caleb and those in his friend group produce music and videos for fun regularly. Nearly all of his skill set is self taught.

Music and technology are two of Caleb’s super powers, or strengths. Individuals with dyslexia might struggle with reading, writing and spelling, but they exchange these difficulties for strengths in other areas. They are extremely creative and can have gifts in cognitive and emotional areas, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

The students at RLA all have their own super powers, and as they gain confidence with reading, writing and spelling, they often discover their strengths. Seeing Caleb do amazing things with technology gave some students hope for the future.

“He has dyslexia, and he can do that,” some of them said after the first time Caleb played “The Grinch” rap demo for them.

“Some of them might end up doing music, too,” Caleb said. “You never know.”

Caleb found many ways to engage the students to enjoy participating in the recording of the lyrics and the video, including leading them down the hallway in a silly march and chatting with them to make them feel at ease.

“I’m proud they got the chance to do this and see that I can do it,” he said. “It kind of gives them the idea, ‘Hey, I can probably do something cool, too.’”

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