Taking Down Dyslexia in a Single Summer

I was struck with a cord of terror upon facing the trusting blue eyes of my first student. I’d been tasked with teaching this child to read, which was a monumental responsibility I would surely fail at. Interacting with young children never felt like my strong suit, and my internship was going to challenge my instinct to run away from the tiny humans who needed my help.

They’re not aliens, right? I told myself. Young children are still people.

That auspicious beginning set the stage for a whirlwind of chaos, learning, and fun at my summer internship with Lexicon Speech, Language, and Reading, a local tutoring center with specialized therapy for children who suffer from dyslexia or other language-processing disorders. I was trained using the Orton-Gillingham approach, which breaks down the science of the English language into an effective, systematic, multisensory guide to teach dyslexic children how to read and spell.

Most public schools and modern curriculum use vague systems to teach reading and spelling, and often fall back too heavily on young students’ intuition. When your friends or family complain about the “illogical” nature of English, what they’re really complaining about is the illogical way it’s taught to us. The English language is based on a strict set of rules, but we don’t teach reading and spelling with them. This creates a gap where dyslexic students fall behind, and with dyslexia ranking as our most common learning disability affecting up to 20% of the population, it’s sobering how great their need is.

Armored with my training and determination to instill my love of language in my students, I set out to teach them as best I could. I soon realized I was surrounded by a cohort of tiny geniuses—these were talented kids, friendly kids, kids who were all highly intelligent and capable in their own ways. All they needed was for someone to give them the right keys to unlock the English language for them.

That’s not to say it was easy, however. Years of struggle had made many of these children insecure and unwilling to keep trying; I had to fight to find ways to reach them. I talked to them about the math tutors I had in high school, and discovered that my ability to relate and empathize with my students gave me a deeper measure of patience.

Aside from all the fun and learning, this internship opportunity gave me the chance to test my own merit. I’d never believed I would make a good teacher, but after this summer I understand that teaching takes empathy and dedication. I have been inspired by all my own teachers over the years, and now understand the indescribable sense of accomplishment felt when seeing the progress one’s students make. The memories I made with everyone at my internship have made it an utterly unforgettable experience, one I never could have accepted without the financial support of Sigma Tau Delta’s Internship Stipend.

Olivia Schaap
Summer Internship Stipend Recipient, 2021
Alpha Tau Kappa Chapter, President
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR


Internship Stipend

Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying internships. The Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the intern’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration in addition to internship length. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Please review the application guidelines for additional information.

The internship stipend does not apply to activities that are part of a student’s degree requirements, such as student teaching, and cannot be used to supplement a graduate assistantship.

Applications will be accepted Monday, October 11 through Monday, November 8, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CDT). Notifications will be made by December 6. Questions regarding the online submission process should be addressed to [email protected].

Past Internship Stipend Recipients

An Animated Summer: My Internship with the Florida Animation Festival
The Cost of an Unpaid Internship
How a Sigma Tau Delta Internship Stipend Allowed me to Pursue a Great Opportunity
The Price of an Unpaid Internship
An English Major in a Neuroscience Lab
To Be the Practical or the Spark; That is the Question
Understanding the Power of the Storyteller and the Story
My Internship at the LARB Publishing Workshop
An English Major on Capitol Hill
Spring Internship Stipend Applications Due Soon
Writing Internship for AGAPE
McIntosh & Otis Internship: Preparation for a Dream Career
An Eye-Opening and Goal-Affirming Internship: My Time with Penn Press
My Indie Summer Internship at Wise Ink
Winning an Internship with

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