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Shelton's Scholars program helps students with learning differences develop skills in oral and written spelling, reading, grammar, vocabulary, cursive handwriting, and auditory discrimination and memory.

By Angelo Piersanti

The Shelton School is a bustling place in the summer, hosting any number of training classes, enrichment opportunities, and academic courses. This includes our Scholars program for students with language-based learning differences who are 6 years of age and above. Students come from all over the metroplex with some families driving from over an hour away.

The Scholars program, part of Shelton’s Outreach Department, is designed for students from the community at large who for various reasons are not enrolled at Shelton. The program offers an intensive three-week summer course called Summer Scholars. The program continues to operate in the fall and spring with a 13-week Saturday-only course.

Families typically seek out the Scholars program after realizing that their children are struggling with reading, writing, and spelling. The Scholars program supplements services received at the students’ schools or takes the place of these services when students are no longer eligible to receive them. Families come for Shelton’s resources and reputation, in addition to the convenience and affordability of the program. They stay for the results. 

Students are admitted into the program after completing an informal assessment or submitting test results from other evaluation centers. Students are placed into small groups according to ability. In the process of receiving needed intervention, students may realize for the first time that there are many others who share their learning differences. This often sparks engagement and friendship. It turns out that kids like to learn with others who are like them. 

Summer Scholars students meet Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. between June 12 and July 3. At the heart of this densely packed program is the Sequential English Education (S.E.E.) curriculum, a comprehensive, multisensory, structured approach to language remediation written by Dr. Joyce Pickering, Shelton‘s Executive Director Emerita, based on the work of Dr. Charles Shedd.

Dr. Shedd’s model for training volunteers to help students with dyslexia proved to be a highly effective and low-cost method for providing remediation services. Following this model, Dr. Pickering pioneered the Scholars program at Shelton in 1990 to address the unmet needs in the broader community. Since that time, hundreds of tutors have received extensive training and supervision in the delivery of the S.E.E. curriculum to work in the Scholars program.  

Tutors include college students, Shelton alumni, current and former teachers, retirees, parents, and grandparents. Some tutors are experienced professionals working towards advanced certification or licensure; others are embarking upon a voyage of discovery that may lead to a future in teaching. In all cases, they are committed to the mission of serving students with learning differences. 

The Shelton Scholars program provides critical services for many students in the DFW area. At the cost of trading in some of their summer break, a time when most students experience a learning loss, these students are developing skills in oral and written spelling, reading, grammar, vocabulary, cursive handwriting, auditory discrimination and memory. 

Students are having fun, too. Whether shooting hoops during a break or making playdates with newfound friends, their increasing confidence becomes plain to see. The pep in their steps as they enter the building or smiles on their faces as they join their cohorts are a joy to behold and an inspiration for everyone to continue with their work. 

For more information about Shelton's Scholars program, visit this link.

With special thanks to Jessica Newman, Director of Shelton S.E.E., for her insights into the Scholars program and her ongoing dedication to the students it serves.

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