Meet the founders of WY Lit, Heather Fleming and Kari Roden.
Heather Fleming’s wish is to help prevent the social and economic impact of reading failure in Wyoming. Heather’s literacy journey began in 2015 when, after several years of unexpected academic struggles, her 3rd-grade son was diagnosed with dyslexia. The diagnosis led her to do a deep dive into dyslexia and into the gap between what brain science tells us about how children learn to read and typical educational practices. Heather’s first career was as a bond trader in New York City at Salomon Brothers, Citibank, and, finally, as a Managing Director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City. After her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, Heather shifted her professional focus and completed substantial training in literacy acquisition, assessment, and instruction. This allowed her to be certified as an International Dyslexia Association (IDA) structured literacy teacher, a certification which she used to tutor dyslexic students at Vertical Skills Academy in Evergreen, CO and Rocky Mountain Camp for children with dyslexia. She expects to complete a Master’s degree in Reading Science at Mount St. Joseph University in late 2020 after which she will apply for the Mount St. Joseph Reading Science Ph.D. program. Mount St. Joseph University was one of the first IDA-accredited graduate programs in the country. Heather currently serves on the Board of Directors of the IDA Rocky Mountain Branch and of Vertical Skills Academy, a K-8 school in Evergreen, CO. Heather is a Fellow of the Haskins Laboratories Summer Institute, a Yale-affiliated institution which focuses on the neurobiological basis of speech, language, and reading. Heather graduated from Georgetown University in 1993 with a BS in Economics. Heather enjoys snowshoeing the Happy Jack trails in Laramie, WY, and swimming with the whale sharks in Baja, Mexico.
What we advocate for at WY Lit are practices that are really best to solidify foundational reading skills for all children but particularly important for children who struggle with reading. -Heather Fleming
Kari Roden worked for 12 years as an elementary school teacher in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and holds a Master of Science in Literacy. She was certified in Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes and has completed comprehensive IMSE Orton-Gillingham training. She is currently pursuing the Associate Level of Certification at the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. In 2016, Kari’s then six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. Despite her expertise in literacy, she realized she had no idea what dyslexia was. She devoured everything she could find about dyslexia and evidence-based literacy and realized that neither her undergraduate nor her graduate education prepared her to teach reading or to identify and fill the specific skill gaps that contribute to reading difficulties. After becoming aware that the schools were not equipped to meet her daughter’s needs, Kari decided to homeschool her daughter for two years. Additionally, Kari worked at the Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexic Kids where her daughter attended as a camper. Her daughter is now back in public school after a special education teacher was trained in an evidence-based program for dyslexia. Kari is a structured literacy tutor and enjoys her advocacy work with Heather. She serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board and the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association Rocky Mountain Branch. She works as a Reading Interventionist-Dyslexia tutor in Laramie County 1 school district. In her free time, Kari enjoys hiking, (easy) mountain biking, gardening, camping, and traveling with her husband, two daughters, and puppy.
Empowering parents is the biggest thing, with this knowledge. What to say and what to ask for and to really demand because that’s what it has come down to. You need to demand what these kids need. – Kari Roden
The bulk of teachers are willing to learn more and we need those teachers to be brave enough to say, ‘I didn’t learn this, and I would like to know more.’ We need them to be vocal about that within their districts. We’ve had some fantastic administrators who have been very supportive of us. So, administrators can also be the voice of change.”- Heather Fleming
Heather and Kari were instrumental in the passing of Wyoming House Bill 297 related to K-3 reading screening and intervention. They have been contracted by the Wyoming Department of Education on several literacy projects, and are excited to continue partnering with literacy stakeholders in Wyoming.
This is Me Podcast is hosted by Brandi Lea Nash and Amie Lou Siemens and is based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The show was inspired by the thought that women can change their lives and change the lives of others by sharing their stories. They believe that you can turn your struggle into your story. The show is a fun and heart-warming combination of living in the Rocky Mountain Region and phenomenal women sharing their stories. The show is available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Spotify. Do you have a story to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org