Kate Pearce is a Danbury mom of two and owner of Kate Pearce Educational Services. As a former special education teacher, advocate, mom, and a proud dyslexic, her goal is to provide your child with effective, evidence-based educational support that will allow your child to realize how capable they are.
Where are you originally from and how long have you lived in Danbury?
I grew up in Chappaqua, NY
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
10 and 7
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
That I am proud dyslexic!
Favorite things to do with your family?
Skiing, bike riding, traveling and really doing anything outside.
Favorite spot in the Danbury area?
We love Tarrywile and trying new restaurants in the area.
Can you tell us a little more about Kate Pearce Educational Services and how you built your company?
To understand more about the services that we offer I think it’s important to understand the journey of how Kate Pearce Educational Services became what it is now. About 11 years ago I was at a major cross roads in my career. I was a special education teacher and was defeated, broken and mentally drained by the public-school system. I was burnt out and exhausted from trying to give my students more of what was not working (whole language/balanced literacy). Like most dyslexics, I blamed myself. I told myself that it was me that wasn’t good enough. And I convinced myself that because my students were making some “progress” on their DRA and F&P scores that I must be doing something right. Although I knew deep down that my special education students needed “more.” I just didn’t know what that “more” was. I brought my concerns about my students possibly being dyslexic to administrators, school psychologists, speech and language pathologist… really anyone who would listen to me. Time after time, I was told, “there are no real test for dyslexia,” “schools don’t diagnose dyslexia,” “their reading scores are average” and my all-time favorite, “your expectation are too high for your students.”
I felt crushed, almost helpless. I knew my students were smart. I knew they were capable and meant to do great things. After all, here I was with a Masters from Fordham in Literacy and I was dyslexic. Surely my students could accomplish this as well as I could. However, I realized I had had many resources while growing up that my students didn’t have, such as private tutors and a parent who really understood dyslexia (I am the youngest of 3 and both my brothers paved the way for me by getting dyslexia diagnoses). Most important of all, I had received A PROPER DIAGNOSIS! Not one of my dozens of students had been given a diagnosis of dyslexia. Not one!! I also knew that I didn’t have the tools to help them. I felt broken, sad, and once again, I felt defeated and hopeless. So, in the spring of 2010 after my first son was born, I said “goodbye” to the classroom and to teaching.
However, the universe had other plans for me, and being a full-time stay-at-home Mom, was not one of them. By Fall 2010, I was introduced to a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham, Dr. Fran Bowman. I met Dr. Bowman on a fluke. She was opening a New York practice and was looking for teachers to hire to be trained in a program called “Orton-Gillingham” (“The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multi-sensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.”)
At the time I had no idea what I was signing up for, just that it would pay some bills and get me out of the house for a few hours a day. I was so wrong. Within the first hour of her 70-hour OG course, I was hooked. Dr. Bowman’s course forever changed the way I would look at how students learn to read and the science behind the mysterious and complex processes we simply call reading and writing. The course was life-changing not just for me but for my students, their families, my colleagues, nieces, nephews and most importantly my own two dyslexic children. Dr. Bowman breathed life back into me and I spent the next decade being mentored learning under her until I purchased the CT portion of our NY practice.
Why is my story so important? It’s important because 1-5 people share a similar story. A story that is not told often enough. A story of the teacher that doesn’t know the science of how kids learn to read, write and are too afraid to ask for help. The student who is getting overlooked EVERY SINGLE DAY and the parent that is silently fighting an uphill battle to get their child the right services. Every child and parent that come through my practice has a story. Some are more devastating than others but my job is to make sure we look at the whole child, see where their strengths and weaknesses are, and develop a plan that is based on science and not on baseless theories on how children learn.
I like to say we Remediate, Educate, Advocate, and Differentiate for children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and “dys-teacha” (not being taught properly). All my 15+ academic coaches are trained in a minimum of 60+ hours of Orton-Gillingham, as well as other science-based writing, math and executive functions methods. However, what makes them all stand out is their dedication, and passion for what we do because they too, have a personal connection and a story to tell.
Without a doubt, next year is going to be a challenge for students (and parents), can you give us an overview of the services and programs you have in place to support any gaps in learning? What can parents expect after they set up a consultation?
In addition to our normal one-to-one tutorial services that we offer… we are setting up virtual “learning pods” of 3-4 students to help supplement what students are missing in the classroom, as well as being able to offer for the first time, Orton-Gillingham instruction (evidence-based reading instruction) at a premium price.
We are not totally against setting up at home pods but there many logistics and procedures that have to be put into place first, before we agree to come to your home.
Since classroom teachers are overwhelmed with the demand of work and the restraints being put on them, we are hoping to alleviate some of that stress. We want teachers to know that we hear their concerns on “how” they are going to manage not only all their students’ needs, but their own families as well. We have the luxury to be flexible and be more targeted in our instruction and our goal is not only to make sure that students don’t “COVID-Slide” but move them a head in their learning. I honestly believe that this is an opportunity to make lemons out of lemonade.
If parents are interested in a learning pod you can email us of from our website and request a questionnaire giving us some information on your child, what grade they will be entering, if they receive any interventions at school, we then might set up a virtual consultation with your child to see what group they would best fit into, based not only on the child’s need but days and times they are available. Each pod will be 3-4 students max, 2-3 days a week for 8-10 weeks sessions. There are many students who are in the upper grades who have already formed their own pod and we are providing them with a teacher to either supplement their instruction, or help them work through their course work. We want to give parents enough time to get acclimated with the routines that a new school year brings, as well as understanding their child’s schedule and what days and times would really work, so we won’t be starting the learning pods until mid-September when everyone has their schedule down and we all have a better understanding of what our new normal looks like.
And finally, as an educator, what advice do you have for families as we all navigate the new school year?
We are living in a world with a lot of unknowns that can be scary and stressful. We have to remember our children are watching how we handle these stressful times and if we as adults are freaking out, they will too. We can’t control how school districts and teachers handle the reopening of schools, but we can control our own environment and our own reactions. Children are resilient, they will rise to the occasion, if they feel safe and supported. If your children aren’t responding to online learning or getting very little out of it, contact your child’s teachers, ask them how you can supplement their materials, tell them what is working, what isn’t. Document, document, document everything. Every email, phone call, suggestion. You need data to go back to go back to the school with if there is a problem.
Teachers are willing to help. They want to help, but they aren’t mind readers and are being put under an enormous amount of stress. We are all stronger together and this is an opportunity to teach our children the BIGGEST LESSON of all, the lesson on community and love. I want my children to remember how their parents pitch in to help drive a neighbor’s child to school because the parent had to leave for work earlier and they don’t want them on the bus. I want them to see how we printed extra assignment sheets for a friend because they don’t have a printer. How their parents made a meal for the essential worker and families because they are working long hours. These are lessons that are just as important as reading and writing and have a deeper impact on our children and society.
Kate Pearce is the owner of Kate Pearce Educational Services. Using the Orton-Gillingham approach, Kate and her team of 15 Academic Consultants strive to see you child succeed. Contact Kate today for a consultation by clicking here.