In third grade, Colton’s mother Angela noticed that he began experiencing difficulties in the classroom pertaining to his reading and writing and was no longer on level with his peers. Colton’s proactive mother had him undergo psychoeducational evaluation by Dr. Mary Danielak, who confirmed his dyslexia diagnosis, one that affects more than 20% of the population worldwide. Dr. Danielak also suggested something that would change Colton’s life – Swift School would be an excellent place to enroll him.
“As a parent, you feel hopeless and frustrated watching your child struggle in school,” said Angela. “Before Swift, I was worried about his emotional and mental well-being, but I instantly knew when I toured Swift that he was going to receive support in the way he needed.”
Angela enrolled Colton as a fourth grader in the fall of 2016, and Rachel Grade was his teacher. During Colton's time in Ms. Grade's classroom, Angela noticed changes in her son. “I saw the light come on,” Angela recalled. It was a relief to see it come on and see him start to thrive.”
Colton, who remembers the frustration of missing recess due to unfinished work during his public school days, echoed his mom’s sentiments about Ms. Grade. “Ms. Grade helped me begin to learn better,” he said. “It became easier to learn and understand the content, and she gave me the tools to complete the work.”
Colton stayed at Swift through the 2019-20 academic year, outplacing before eighth grade. Brain maximization is a unique term that Colton attributed to his Swift tenure as he discussed how his teachers prepared him for success.
One of his favorite teachers was Mr. Michael Lytle. Described as a “tough nut to crack”, Colton recalled Mr. Lytle as a fun yet serious educator who helped him grow. “I used to be all play and no work,” recalled Colton. “Mr. Lytle taught me you can focus and have fun at the same time, but there is a time to buckle down.”
Swift School’s faculty are all trained in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Each summer, new faculty, alongside educators from throughout the Southeast, take the Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator and Associate Level courses with Orton-Gillingham Academy Fellows Natalie Felix and Jocelyn Gasaway. Receiving instruction from OG-trained faculty made a major difference in Colton’s education, and he specifically mentioned how it made a difference in his brain.
“Swift’s teachers taught me how to maximize my brain in the best ways possible. We always practiced things multiple times. We also used our agendas to stay organized. I still use the tools I received to this day.
Now a junior at a high school with a profile similar to Swift School’s, Colton is confident in himself and in his abilities. “I am excelling in my classes and have great friends,” he said. “I love to create and build things with my hands. I love woodworking and inventing things. I am working on a cool dyslexia t-shirt design right now because there are no cool shirts out there for guys like me!”
It should come as no surprise that he is considering studying business or architecture in college. He is also keeping his options open for trade school or the military with an interest in carpentry, welding, construction, or joining the Air Force. With two years of high school remaining, Colton is in no rush to make a decision on his future, but he exudes confidence, saying, “I know I will be successful at whatever I do in life.”