Literacy and the Science Behind It

The ability to read and write is paramount. Literacy helps students develop knowledge, compassion, and confidence. Strong literacy skills set the stage for college and career readiness, and we’re passionate about equipping students with the knowledge and skills to grow into thoughtful, trailblazing leaders.

Dr. Sandra Doran, the Founding Head of North Tampa, has long had a special place in her heart for literacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English, a master’s degree in Religion and Communication from Andrews University, and a doctorate in special education from Boston University — and is also a mother to a child with ADHD and dyslexia. Dr. Sandra understands how crucial it is for children to build a strong foundation of reading, writing, and comprehension.

“Whether your child has dyslexia or not, there are certain methods to teach reading that are very rigorous,” said Dr. Sandra. “Did you know that 35% of students in the 4th grade are below level in reading and it’s totally unnecessary? If we use the research that we have, there is no reason for a child to be so far behind.”

The importance of literacy and its effect on cognition has long been studied by the scientific community. A study published in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience compared literate and illiterate people in their processing of letters and visual objects. They discovered that literacy promotes analytic processing, greatly improves phonemic awareness, and enables well-informed public debate and collective decision-making.

At North Tampa, it’s vital that our students benefit from strong literacy skills, as well as mastery of our core curriculum. Our schedule is structured in a way that allows every child to have an individualized plan. During this time, students and teachers work together to address challenges, establish goals, and celebrate any progress the student has made.

“I pride myself that I brought in assessments for children and trainings for teachers so that they now understand — what is a syllable type? What is a ‘schwa’ sound? Why does it matter? What does it mean if I look at a child’s writing sample and there are spelling errors?” said Dr. Sandra.

Students are continually monitored for their progress, and personalized goals will be set and achieved. The ability to write clearly and convincingly and read deeply and critically is crucial.

“If I look at a child’s writing sample and there are spelling errors, that’s very diagnostic,” said Dr. Sandra. “I can tell you if they have a reading problem or not and probably what kind of a reading problem they have. I can tell if this a phonological problem or an orthographic problem, and I can tell you what you need to do about it based on that. Because if a child cannot sequence phonemes, they’re not hearing sounds in the correct order, so of course they can’t spell, of course they can’t read, and that’s what we have to work on.”

Teachers partner with students to help them develop a rock-solid foundation of our core curriculum, especially when it comes to reading. Each child is honored as a unique individual. Our teachers are intentional in getting to know their students and encourage growth, helping them to verbalize their strengths and goals and address where they need assistance. The North Tampa team is driven to not only give our students a love and joy of reading, but to equip them with the tools for success.

At North Tampa Christian Academy, a Tampa private school, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.