Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This month’s inspiration contest winner was the Lancaster Learning Center. (For contest details click here.)
The account below, submitted by Lancaster board member Joy Smith Linton, was written by former student Jonathan Celli, who graduated from the Center in May 2006. Now 16, he presented his story at a Center fundraiser in October.
Jonathan received his 3 years of tutoring from Lancaster Center Director Michael Hall. "Jonathan is a very gifted young man," Michael said. "What I did was organize and scaffold the information already in his head so he could access it."
Jonathan prepared his address to help others understand the Center from a student's perspective. His ability to see his dyslexia as a gift is a testament to our Centers' life changing work.
"What is dyslexia? Is it a problem, a disability, or an obstacle that just stands in the way? Without the 32 degree Masonic Learning Center, my answer would be that it is all three; with your help, the answer to this question is quite simple, it is a gift.
You may be familiar with some others who had the gift of dyslexia: Thomas Edison, who left formal schooling after three months to be home schooled by his mother; or Albert Einstein, who left school at age 10. Unhappy with the school's program, he turned to a course of personal study.
I can understand that. My local public school system saw me as someone to be retained. Unlike Edison and Einstein, I had the Lancaster Learning Center, which saw me as someone to be re-trained. I needed retraining because when I began formal reading instruction I was not able to understand the teacher's approach. The methods used assumed things, like an ability to recognize rhyming words... and to do that, you must be able to distinguish differences between letter sounds... some of us just didn't come wired that way! Dyslexia did not negatively impact my intelligence, it just enables me to think differently. All dyslexics are different, which means we must be taught to read one on one. That kind of individualization is not a school's strong point either.
Dyslexia does, in fact, present itself as a challenge, but not a challenge that cannot be overcome if you receive one on one instruction and work with teachers trained in methods that meet the needs of the learner. I did receive help from some other organizations and teachers, but when I encountered the Masonic Learning Center something changed. Not only did the program bring me up to grade level, it increased the speed of my reading and also helped me to understand the material as a whole. When I completed the program I left not only with improved reading skills, but also with an opportunity to fulfill my dreams. This program gives those of us with dyslexia a new beginning and a chance to achieve goals that had seemed unattainable. It unlocks minds with wonderful potential that can benefit both the student and the community.
This summer I spent almost two weeks at Villanova University as part of the National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine. Those students invited to attend have demonstrated an aptitude for, and an interest in, the field of medicine. The Masons' investment in my learning to read was the key that opened that door for me. I am not yet sure that a career in medicine is for me, but I am sure that whatever path I choose, it will have been paved by the generosity and efforts of others like you - Masons who are building a better tomorrow one child
at a time.
I will begin regularly volunteering for the Center in November because I want to assist you in providing an opportunity for others to get the help I know they so desperately need. I have also walked in all but one of the Center's walk-a-thons... and I only missed that one due to a school commitment. I will be there tomorrow to once again support you in your efforts to build. I stand here before you as proof of what this program can do. I only hope that I have helped you to see the possibilities and hope you give to children with dyslexia."


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