Planning is key to success for students with learning differences

Frustration - Exam questions with broken pencilOne in nine college students have a learning difference such as attention-deficit disorder or dyslexia, according to a recent article in The Washington Post. At SMU about 350 students with learning disabilities are registered with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Members of the SMU President’s Advisory Committee on the Needs of Persons with Disabilities agree that planning ahead is key to success. SMU students with learning differences, the faculty who teach them, and the staff who support them share best practices for navigating the most challenging time of the semester. Look below the link for answers to the question: How do you prepare for finals?

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2009 Luminary Awards honor education leaders

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development honored three outstanding education leaders with its first annual Simmons Luminary Awards – former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, longtime Texas State Board of Education member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller and St. Philip’s School headmaster Dr. Terry J. Flowers. All three received their awards at a reception and dinner on the SMU campus Nov. 19.

“The Simmons Luminary Awards honor women and men who are real education reformers – people willing to step outside the status quo and follow evidence, rather than tradition, to improve outcomes for our students,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School. “This year’s three recipients serve as beacons on the education landscape.”

“People are frequently satisfied with great ideas,” Chard said. “But ideas aren’t enough. What we don’t often have are people like Terry Flowers, with 25 years of proven results; Tincy Miller, who realized that her focus on her son’s dyslexia needed to be expanded to all dyslexic children; and Margaret Spellings, who had the opportunity and the courage to move an accountability system from concept to national priority.”

All three Luminary Award winners have demonstrated a willingness to make bold changes in policy and practice to improve students’ lives, Chard said.

Terry FlowersFlowers is headmaster and executive director of St. Philip’s School and Community Center in south Dallas. Under his leadership, St. Philip’s has developed a curriculum that emphasizes academic excellence and a positive self-image in a community that struggles with poverty and low graduation rates. St. Philip’s records a 97 percent high school graduation rate and an 88 percent college attendance rate for alumni of the school’s Pre-K through 6th grade program.

Tincy MillerMiller, who graduated from SMU in 1956, has served on the Texas State Board of Education since 1984. She has distinguished herself by promoting better curricula and programs for dyslexic children, helping to pass the Texas State Dyslexia Law for public schools, facilitating the creation of the Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders and helping establish the first statewide dyslexia academies.

Margaret SpellingsSpellings is president and CEO of Margaret Spellings and Company, and a leading expert in national public policy. Spellings was U.S. Secretary of Education from 2005-09, the first mother of school-age children to serve in that position. She directed the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, which commits U.S. schools to bringing all students up to grade level or better in reading and math.

Read more from SMU News
Hear Margaret Spellings’ interview on KERA’s “Think” with Krys Boyd audio