Triad Academy at Summit School

Children with dyslexia learn differently.

As a nationally accredited Orton-Gillingham program, we're committed to helping students overcome the challenges of print-based reading and written language difficulties.

Students in the Triad division blossom into self-assured creative thinkers, problem solvers, and vibrant lifelong learners.

We are one of two schools in North Carolina, and one of only 13 in the U.S. to receive the Orton-Gillingham Academy accreditation.

Environment

Small classroom settings allow our highly-trained teachers to focus on each child's unique gifts and help close the gap between cognitive potential and academic achievement. Homerooms are a maximum of 9 students to 1 teacher. Language Tutorial classes are a maximum of 3 students to 1 teacher.

Our innovative instructional program is highly individualized, research based, and designed to meet the unique learning needs of students with dyslexia and related language based learning differences.

Often, our students come to us having experienced confusion and failure in a traditional classroom despite having good academic potential. These very students are those whose creative problem solving abilities, artistic talents, and innovative thinking can serve as a springboard to success, if nurtured and appreciated in an environment designed specifically to tap into these strengths. They find that environment at Triad Academy at Summit School.

The cornerstone of our academic program is grounded in the principles of Orton-Gillingham instruction. In all areas of our curriculum, we teach the underlying structure of the English language using an approach which is cognitively based, direct and explicit, diagnostic and prescriptive, cumulative, structured, sequential, and multisensory.

Culture

Success Stories

While we are most proud of the strong academic foundation we provide for our students, we never underestimate the profound and positive impact this program has on self-esteem. Since our program’s founding in 1999, hundreds of students have left Triad Academy with a solid educational foundation, an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, an arsenal of compensatory learning strategies, and the confidence to be successful, independent learners.

Portrait of a Teacher

The faculty of Summit School commit to these characteristics as defining features of our work in serving the needs of our students, their families, our colleagues and the school.

As an educator striving to develop the full potential of each child, I...

  • Enjoy and respect children
  • Understand the important stages in child/adolescent development
  • Observe children, giving particular attention to the unique qualities of each child
  • Facilitate and guide, fostering discovery, thinking, creativity and the construction of knowledge
  • Teach for deep understanding by designing a curriculum organized around meaningful problems, projects, and questions
  • Encourage students to form habits of mind as mathematician, scientist, historian, reader, writer and artist
  • Cultivate in students Summit’s core competencies
  • Gauge students’ understanding through multiple forms of progress-oriented and authentic assessment
  • Honor children as citizens, encouraging them to participate in a democratic society

As a lifelong learner committed to professional growth, I...

  • Reflect on the art of teaching and study the science of learning, always seeking to apply what I learn
  • Engage in ongoing personal and professional growth, embracing its inherent change
  • Study the Progressive Education tradition and apply its evolving principles in my practice: both pedagogical & curricular
  • Strive for excellence in my planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities

As a fully engaged member of the Summit community, I...

  • Demonstrate an attitude of service and flexibility, and use strengths and talents in a variety of ways to benefit the entire school community
  • Actively engage parents in partnerships for the good of the child
  • Model and uphold Summit’s Code of Conduct
  • Participate positively and with joy in the community life of the school


Curriculum

Our students receive intensive, comprehensive and coordinated remedial instruction in language arts, generally their area of greatest academic weakness. In coordination with our Upper and Lower School teaching faculty, students are exposed to the same concepts and themes. We practice a seamless integration of signature events so students are ready to move into other divisions. Triad Academy enrolls children for an average of 2 to 3 years, then provides transitional support for placement in another division.

Lower School Curriculum (1st – 5th Grade)

Language Tutorial

This reading remediation course is based on the Orton-Gillingham principles of instruction, which is a proven, research-validated approach in which students are taught the sounds, symbols and structure of the English language in a gradual, logical, and orderly progression. Reading and spelling skills are mastered simultaneously and cumulatively as students are taught to decode (take words apart for reading) and encode (put words together for spelling) rather than guess. Fluency drills and opportunities to practice oral reading throughout the day facilitate comprehension and automatic recognition.

Written Expression

Essential skills for writing are taught in coordination with the Language Tutorial program, and at a student’s reading/spelling ability level. Following a logical progression of skills hierarchy, students are taught the grammatical and structural components necessary for building sentences, paragraphs, essays, and writing reports. Outlining strategies, graphic organizers and color-coding are used to help students identify parts of speech and produce organized writing samples. Vocabulary development focuses on direct instruction in understanding the Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Greek origins of words and word parts and their meanings, which are the morphological layers of the English language.

Multisensory Math

Multisensory math applies strategies from reading instruction to conceptually based mathematics instruction. With an emphasis on instructional language, multisensory math helps students develop skills that can be applied to mathematical concepts; it uses explicit language to make math concepts memorable. Based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to learning, multisensory math allows students to receive and process information visually, auditorily and kinesthetically. Taught in a sequential order, multisensory math begins with basic elements and progresses methodically toward more difficult material. The use of daily routines and structures help to build fluency as well as automaticity. The use of manipulatives, along with repetition helps to reinforce concepts and aid in memory. Like Orton-Gillingham, multisensory math is diagnostic and prescriptive for each student. A teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the student’s needs.

Reading Comprehension

Students with significant language processing problems are taught visualization, or imaging techniques, to facilitate growth in receptive language, reading comprehension and verbal reasoning skills. Those whose comprehension is impeded by weak decoding skills, and students whose comprehension skills have been remediated to a level commensurate with their intellectual ability read selections at their independent reading level. Students are taught to identify and interpret standard components of novels, short stories, essays and expository writing samples using techniques specifically developed for use with students with learning differences.

Science

Our science curriculum provides hands-on, inquiry based learning experiences with an emphasis on developing process skills, science reasoning ability, and selected science concepts. With a focus on depth of understanding vs. breadth of presentation, select goals from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study are used to build a rotating three-year strand that focuses on life, physical, or earth science. We provide curriculum experiences and content at an age-appropriate level, and teach strategies and skills to achieve at grade level while students gain facility in reading and written language. Science is integrated with other subject areas when possible and technology is used as a tool to help students develop concepts and gather, record and display information. As students approach middle school grades, increasing emphasis is placed on using science texts to develop note taking, study skills and textbook mining strategies.


Upper School Curriculum (6th-8th Grade)

Language Tutorial

In grades 6-8 in the Triad Division, language arts and language tutorial are combined for a 90-minute block. This extended class time gives faculty the flexibility to meet each child at his or her language skill level be it basic decoding or advanced research writing.

Written Expression

Essential skills for writing are taught in coordination with the Language Tutorial program, and at a student’s reading/spelling ability level. Following a logical progression of skills hierarchy, students are taught the grammatical and structural components necessary for building sentences, paragraphs, essays, and writing reports. Outlining strategies, graphic organizers and color coding are used to help students identify parts of speech and produce organized writing samples. Vocabulary development focuses on direct instruction in understanding the Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Greek origins of words and word parts and their meaning, which are the morphological layers of the English language.

Multisensory Math

Multisensory math applies strategies from reading instruction to conceptually based mathematics instruction. With an emphasis on instructional language, multisensory math helps students develop skills that can be applied to mathematical concepts; it uses explicit language to make math concepts memorable. Based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to learning, multisensory math allows students to receive and process information visually, auditorily and kinesthetically. Taught in a sequential order, multisensory math begins with basic elements and progresses methodically toward more difficult material. The use of daily routines and structures help to build fluency as well as automaticity. The use of manipulatives, along with repetition helps to reinforce concepts and aid in memory. Like Orton-Gillingham, multisensory math is diagnostic and prescriptive for each student. A teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the student’s needs.

Science

Our science curriculum provides multi-sensory, hands-on, inquiry based learning experiences with an emphasis on developing process skills, science reasoning ability, and selected science concepts. With a focus on depth of understanding vs. breadth of presentation, select goals from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study are used to build a rotating four-year strand that focuses on life, physical, or earth science and an additional science elective such as environmental science. Science is integrated with other subject areas when possible and technology is used as a tool to help students develop concepts, and gather, record and display information. Emphasis is placed on using science texts to develop note taking, study skills and textbook mining strategies to prepare students to succeed.

History

Our history curriculum provides a multi-sensory and hands-on approach to learning while teaching students specific skills such as note taking strategies, study skills, and textbook mining. Select goals from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study are used to build a four-year rotating strand that focuses on economics, legal and political systems, United States history, world history and a history elective such as European history. Students are engaged in the time period being taught through the use of the performing and visual arts in the classroom.

Literature

Our literature curriculum provides students with the ability to appreciate literature through many avenues while learning and utilizing reading comprehension strategies that are directly taught, modeled and emphasized. The curriculum provides a hands-on approach to learning various uses of figurative language, content-based vocabulary, and story grammar. Different types of literature are taught such as poetry, short stories, novels, autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, essays and factual material. Select goals from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study are used to build a four-year rotating strand that focuses on British literature, world literature, American literature and a literature elective.


Dyslexia

Dyslexia is characterized by problems with expressive or receptive oral or written language. It is a brain-based processing difference that affects the way a person gets, uses, stores and sends out information. Dyslexics may have trouble with one or more of the following skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning and math.

Dyslexics are often gifted in creative, right brain abilities and possess unusual talents in the arts. Dyslexia is not a disease, nor is it the result of low intelligence, low motivation, or emotional, psychological, or behavioral difficulties. If misunderstood, however, learning differences can limit a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential.

Dyslexia and its related language-based learning differences are prevalent, in fact, you probably know someone with a learning difference because they affect 15-20% of the population to some extent, and cut across every segment of society. Many still don’t understand what they are or how to diagnose them.

For children, early detection and intervention is crucial. In fact, research shows that 90% of those who struggle with reading skills in Third Grade continue to read significantly below grade level as they enter high school. The earlier a child with a learning difference is provided quality, research-based remediation, the better the long-term prognosis for reading proficiency.

If your child understands new concepts easily, is curious, has a great imagination, enjoys putting things together such as legos, puzzles and models, and yet does not reach age-appropriate developmental language milestones, he or she may have a language based learning difference.

Characteristics often found in students with language-based learning differences:

LANGUAGE-RELATED DIFFICULTIES

  • A history of difficulty learning common nursery rhymes, producing simple rhymes, mispronouncing words, difficulty learning and remembering letter names, distinguishing sounds in words, or understanding that words can be taken apart and broken down into discrete speech sounds
  • Limited ability to sound out simple words, like dog and bat
  • Reading errors that show limited connection to the sounds of the letters or demonstrate the inappropriate use of a guess strategy: big is read as bread or in multisyllabic words, words which are visually similar are confused, for example medium is read as medical
  • Difficulty understanding what has been read
  • Limited vocabulary relative to obvious cognitive potential or use of non-specific language–talking around a point
  • Difficulty with word retrieval or naming, like miscalling a tornado a volcano
  • Written language difficulties
  • Problems with spelling

OTHER RELATED DIFFICULTIES

  • Inconsistent performance on daily work or tests
  • Difficulty following directions, or remembering multi-stepped directions
  • A poor concept of time
  • Difficulty distinguishing left from right
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or a tendency to become overwhelmed
  • Difficulty communicating in groups or understanding social cues

Orton-Gillingham

History of Orton-Gillingham

Efficacy for the Orton-Gillingham approach is validated in 30 years of scientifically based neuroscience and literacy research. Named for its founders, Samuel Orton, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and a linguist, the Orton-Gillingham approach has become the gold standard in teaching students with dyslexia.

What makes Orton-Gillingham different from other programs?

Unlike packaged programs that follow a step by step process, the Orton-Gillingham approach is diagnostic and prescriptive, which means that it allows teachers the flexibility to plan the next day’s lesson based on what a student needs to work on from the previous day. Each lesson follows a specific scope and sequence which provides the building blocks for learning the structure of the English language.

Why is the Orton-Gillingham approach effective for our students?

The Orton-Gillingham approach enables our teachers to address the individual learning profiles of each child. Whether it’s needing more time to process material or working on fluency or automaticity, having the ability to spiral back and review previously learned skills before moving on to something new promotes a sturdy confidence in our students.

What is multisensory instruction?

The Triad Academy curriculum has been designed around the concept of multisensory instruction. Students with dyslexia often do not readily intuit new information and often struggle with traditional teaching methods which emphasize pencil and paper learning. For these students to successfully master new material, the auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning channels must be stimulated simultaneously. Thus our students “see it, say it, and do it” as they learn. New material is broken down into its smallest meaningful units, or sub-steps, and is repeatedly reviewed and taught to a level of mastery. Thus learning happens incrementally and on a firm foundation of prior knowledge.

Our Faculty

Several members of Triad Academy's teaching faculty hold certification in specific learning disabilities, other exceptionalities, reading, or the content area in which they teach. Each faculty member, at a minimum, has completed coursework at the associate level of training as prescribed by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). To download a complete listing of our faculty, please click here.


Resources

Children with dyslexia learn differently.

As a nationally accredited Orton-Gillingham program, we're committed to helping students overcome the challenges of print-based reading and written language difficulties. We are one of two schools in North Carolina, and one of only 13 in the U.S. to receive this designation.

WEB SITES

The International Dyslexia Association

Learning Disabilities Association of America

The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators

Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Multisensory Math


BOOKS

Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, MD

Smart Kids with School Problems: Things to Know and Ways to Help, by Priscilla Vail

Straight Talk About Reading, by Louisa C. Moats and Susan L. Hall

Parenting a Struggling Reader, by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats

The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child, by Richard Lavoie

The Power of the Arts: Creative Strategies for Teaching Exceptional Learners, by Sally L. Smith

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, by Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright

Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read, An Evidenced Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction (NIH 00-4769), by the National Reading Panel

The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read: The Teacher Makes the Difference, by D. Ray Reutzel and Robert B. Cooter

The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research, by Peggy McCardle and Vinita Chhabra

Dyslexia Over the Lifespan: A Fifty-Five Year Longitudinal Study, by M. Rawson

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning by Ben Foss

Looking for Heroes, One Boy, One Year, 100 Letters by Aidan Colvin


Training & Outreach

Children with dyslexia learn differently.

Teacher Training

At Triad Academy, we are committed to staying abreast of the latest research-based techniques for teaching children with learning differences. We also are committed to sharing our knowledge with the community. From time to time we will offer learning opportunities to teachers, parents, students and the general public.

Camp Pathfinder

Triad Academy at Summit School’s Camp Pathfinder is a unique educational and recreational summer program for students in rising 2nd, 3rd 4th and 5th grades who have difficulty with reading and writing. Find more information on our website here.

Interested in being a teacher for Camp Pathfinder? For more information about becoming a tutor for Camp Pathfinder, please visit www.summitschool.com/ogtraining.

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