In 2014, Vertical Skills Academy was founded in response to a growing need for skilled intervention for students with dyslexia. Kara Osberg, a seasoned advocate and experienced literacy specialist with two dyslexic children, and Audra Chapleski, a highly trained STEM teacher and administrator, were a strong team. They envisioned a school where students with similar needs would receive appropriate intervention in an environment in which they were simultaneously challenged and highly supported; where students and their families found a supportive community and where like-minded educators from all backgrounds were welcomed.
Audra and Kara thoughtfully named the school which continues to be a highly specialized academy focused on teaching specific skills to a well-defined student body.
About the Orton-Gillingham Approach
“The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multi-sensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.
The essential curricular content and instructional practices that characterize the Orton-Gillingham Approach are derived from two sources: first from a body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 80 years, and second from scientific evidence about how individuals learn to read and write; why a significant number have difficulty in doing so; how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult; and which instructional practices are best suited for teaching such individuals to read and write.” – AOGPE
Where can I go to learn more about the Orton-Gillingham Approach?
Math EL Education
VSA uses EL Education as its core curriculum in ELA classes and Science K-5. This program uses highly engaging texts based in Science and Social Studies topics that align with VSA’s mission of creating a hands-on, multi- sensory learning environment with students. It provides high level vocabulary and critical thinking throughout the modules. Teachers accommodate the students’ reading ability by reading the text to/with the students, as well as using Kiddom software and Learning Ally, which will read the text to them. By doing this, we allow for students to work with complex text in English Language Arts, while building their foundational skills during their OG tutoring time. Furthermore, EL Education integrates social emotional learning, along with executive functioning skills, which is what VSA is known for! We pair this learning with our literacy framework, Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD), to produce deep thinkers and writers. This curriculum allows us to have common language and structures throughout our classes, while allowing teachers the ability to differentiate the lessons to meet our unique learners’ needs. Find out more about EL Education here or visit their website.
For Math, we use Eureka Math² , which was rated in Ed Reports as Meets Expectations in all areas. Eureka Math² helps students establish a foundational understanding of mathematics (the why) rather than only relying on procedural skills (the how), to better prepare them for college and career. Students strengthen reasoning and critical-thinking skills that they can apply to solve real-world problems and that can be applied to many real-world situations. As with all of our resources, teachers provide manipulatives, as well as accommodations, to meet all students’ needs. They also use formative assessment on a daily basis to determine if students understand the lesson and adapt the lessons as needed.
We use evidence-based resources, along with strong instructional practices to meet the needs of our students. We go “as fast as we can, as slow as we must” to meet these needs.