02.18.2016

At Age 15 Tanisha Learns to Read

By Heidi Hiatt, Treehouse Educational Advocate

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Fifteen-year-old Tanisha started the 2015/2016 school year in a new foster home and a new school. She not only faced the social and emotional challenges inherent with this huge life change, but also faced significant mental health issues and communication delays including not being able to read or write. As a new foster parent, Tanisha’s caregiver reached out to me to help ensure that Tanisha was connected to all of the individualized services she needed at her new school. I helped coach Tanisha’s foster parent on how to review an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) so that she knew what accommodations and modifications Tanisha should be receiving throughout the year to help her succeed in the classroom. I also helped Tanisha’s foster parent learn how to advocate on behalf of her youth at the school to ensure that Tanisha received all of the services listed in the IEP.

At a recent student-led conference, Tanisha shared that she was struggling with learning to read because she didn’t find any of the available books in the school library very engaging. At age 15, Tanisha is interested in things that appeal to most teenage girls but the books at her second grade reading level didn’t capture her imagination or interest. I worked with Tanisha and her foster parent to find books that were age and reading level appropriate, and once Tanisha selected her books Treehouse helped pay for these additions to her new personal library. Now Tanisha has reading material that interests her and helps her stay motivated to continue to learn how to read and write. Her teacher has reported that she is making great progress in her reading and doing very well at school with the support of her team.

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About the Author

As Treehouse’s Educational Advocate covering Clark and Skamania area, Heidi Hiatt collaborates with schools, social workers, foster families and foster youth to resolve difficult issues and remove barriers to foster kids’ school success.


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