Academic Specialist - Kay L. Smith M. Ed.


Rusty is ready to learn!

Academic Specialist is a privately-run business based in Redmond, Washington that provides intensive, individualized educational interventions for the student who struggles with reading, writing, spelling, and handwriting. The learning environment is interactive, fun, and supportive of both the student's emotional and academic needs. I take great joy in unlocking the potential of each student. 

About Kay
Kay is a Certified Special Education Teacher in the state of Washington with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in reading. She has spent her extensive teaching career providing reading, spelling, and writing interventions using research-based instructional methods for students with language-based learning challenges.Her students benefit from explicit instruction that is systematic, integrated, and multisensory. Kay is highly skilled and trained in several Orton-Gillingham based reading remediation programs such as the Wilson Reading System and the Slingerland Method. She is a member of the International Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities Associations.


The National Reading Panel states that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:

         Phonemic Awareness (sounds in language)—the knowledge that 
            spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound 
            known as phonemes. 

       Phonics (letter/sound associations, syllables, decoding)—the 
           knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and                    that these sounds are blended together to form written words.

       Vocabulary (meaning of words, morphology)—teaching new                      words, either as they appear in text, or by introducing new words                separately.          

       Comprehension (syntax, understanding, strategies)—techniques                  for helping individuals to understand the meaning from reading                  passages. 

        Fluency- the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater                  speed, accuracy, and expression.

    Instruction includes researched-based programs that follow the Orton-Gillingham approach and multisensory modalities.  A combination of these programs may be utilized to meet the needs of each individual’s learning style. The following is a selection of the reading, writing, spelling, and handwriting programs that are utilize for instruction.

    Kay with Barbara Wilson; founder of The Wilson Reading System at the International Dyslexia Association Conference in San Diego, CA.


    Wilson Reading System:

    The Wilson Reading System is a 12-Step remedial reading and writing program for individuals with a language-based learning challenges. This program is based on the Orton-Gillingham philosophy and principles, and current phonological coding research. It directly teaches the structure of words in the English language so that students master the coding system for reading and spelling. Unlike other programs that overwhelm the student with rules, the language system of English is presented in a very systematic and cumulative manner so that it is manageable. The Wilson Reading System specifically teaches strategies for decoding and spelling. However, from the beginning steps of the program, it includes oral expressive language development and comprehension. Visualization techniques are used for comprehension. 

    The Slingerland Approach

    Reading Naturally, Wilson Fluency (Fluency)

    REWARDS   (Reading Excellence Word Attack and Rate                                            Development Strategies) Literacy Intervention
    Numerous studies, from the authors and independent researchers, have validated the effectiveness of REWARDS®. Key conclusions state that REWARDS: 
         • Improves students’ ability to decode unknown long words
         • Yields significant growth in decoding and reading rate (fluency)
         • Is effective as an intervention for struggling readers and students       with reading disabilities

             Kay  teaches writing to students using researched  methods and                  materials from Slingerland, Landmark, How to Spell, Writing Skills            Program by Diana Hanbury King, Wilson, and Slingerland cursive              and manuscript handwriting programs.

             Writing can be challenging for students of all ages, but for those with           learning challenges it can be especially laborious and daunting.                   Language processing, reading, and written expression involve                     several processes that are cognitively demanding and simultaneous.

              The student must recognize the speech sound (phonological                         processing), print the associated letter/sound symbol (orthographic),           create meaning (semantic) with complete simple or complex                       sentence structure (syntactic), and connecting the text with clear                 ideas and organization (discourse). These processes require working           memory, the ability to remember several steps in sequence, maintain           attention, executive functioning skills, processing speed, and                       graphomotor control. 
              Kay provides students with strategies and tools to become                           independently success and increase confidence in their writing                   ability. 

    Kay believes the development of executive functions in every student is critical to their academic and life success. 
    "Executive functions are the cognitive processes occurring in the frontal lobe area of the brain that allow one to plan, organize, make decisions, pay attention, regulate behavior, solve problems, and evaluate decisions" (Premier).                                                            
    How Does Executive Function Affect Learning? In school, at home, or in the workplace, we're called on all day, every day, to self-regulate behavior. Executive function allows us to:
    • Make plans
    • Keep track of time and finish work on time
    • Keep track of more than one thing at once
    • Meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions
    • Evaluate ideas and reflect on our work
    • Ask for help or seek more information when we need it
    • Engage in group dynamics
    • Wait to speak until we're called on



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