Police & Fire

Arkadelphia teacher aims to help dyslexic students

By CLAIR MAYS | Arkadelphia Public Schools

Jodie Daniell has moved into a new role for the Arkadelphia Public School District. She is the new dyslexia interventionist, a new full-time position in the district this year. Daniell has been Peake Elementary School’s instructional facilitator for the past five years after spending five years as a Peake fourth-grade teacher. Daniell had six years of experience in the Nashville School District before coming to Arkadelphia.

Jodie Daniell, dyslexia interventionist at Arkadelphia Public Schools | Arkadelphia Public Schools photo

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. According to the Dyslexia Foundation, dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read. Individuals typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. 

Daniell says that she herself struggled with reading while in elementary school. She had great teachers and interventionists who helped her learn to read better. She grew to love reading and writing. As a third-grade teacher, she sought to understand why some of her students were struggling to advance their reading skills. This began her journey of learning more about dyslexia. In 2015, Henderson State University started the Dyslexia Therapist Master’s Degree program. Having completed that program, she is now seeking to become a certified academic language therapist and is preparing to take the exam for licensure. She hopes to see students that struggle with reading become proficient readers and grow to love reading as she has. 

Daniell said her main focus is to help students. To do this, she not only works directly with students but also provides resources and training for others to act as interventionists on their campuses. Her main focus is kindergarten through fifth grade. She said she knows that the earlier the intervention, the more likely students will become proficient readers. She also works with some students at Goza Middle School. 

Daniell said she is excited about her new position. She wants parents to know that they can help their children with reading struggles. Research has shown that parents who read with their child help develop vocabulary and comprehension. Her advice is to read with your children as often as possible; with older students, ask them what they are reading at school and ask them to tell you about the story, as it helps them with comprehension. Just talking to your child helps develop oral language vocabulary and listening comprehension, she said.  

Daniell has been a vital part of intervening on students’ behalf as an instructional facilitator. In her new position, she will be able to help identify students that need multi-sensory reading instruction. Getting students the help they need as early as possible is extremely important. She hopes to see an increase in the number of dyslexia/reading interventionists available to Arkadelphia students. The ultimate goal is to see more students impacted and lead them to academic success.