The Mission of Northern Colorado Reading Initiative is to:
- advocate for parents and educate parents about reading disabilities
- connect parents with local resources for early diagnosis of reading disabilities
- connect parents with capable interventionists
Who we are and how we began:
Angela Bau-Madsen, Executive Director
I have a background in education and serve as a board member for several non-profits. I am a mother of 3, and over the last few years I began homeschooling my now 8 year old and 6 year old. Through all my adult experiences I have been able to see how differently people process information and know that most teachers are not taught to teach to different learning styles.
My daughter Fiona was diagnosed Dyslexic at age 7. I was crushed, but also relieved to have an explanation for why all my instruction and all her practice had yielded such modest progress. With that diagnosis and an internet connection, learning about dyslexia and how to deal with it was easy—the hard part was finding competent, local providers who could evaluate and tutor my daughter.
Since Fiona was diagnosed I learned more about dyslexia, and the specific evaluations needed to diagnose it and interventions or alternative ways to get reading disabled children reading. After learning about the large percentage of children who are behind in reading, and how they are not getting helped correctly, and how reading disabilities relate to crime, I decided to launch Northern Colorado Reading Initiative Corporation. The long term goal of NCRI is to give these children more opportunity to be an integral part of their community, lead happy lives and be able to support their families. When you hear your child has a reading disability NCRI wants to help that diagnosis be a positive change in your child’s life.
Genai Heinrichs, Director
My son Skyler is the youngest of our four children. As a bright and happy child he never seemed to be unhappy or stressed during his early years of school. Skyler’s teachers, however, began to describe him as “slow to read”. We felt confident, like his older brothers and sister, he was so clever that reading would become easier as he got older and more focused. His older siblings all learned to read at different stages – his brothers took a little longer whereas his sister was fluently reading by the end of 1st grade. Unfortunately, as he got older and moved from grade to grade reading didn’t get easier for him – it only got harder. Finally, by 5th grade it was apparent that Skyler was only falling further and further behind his classmates. We decided to have him work with a reading specialist outside of his school. The reading specialist quickly told us Skyler was not “lazy or slow to read” but that he most likely was dyslexic. The results of his testing proved her correct – he was diagnosed as significantly dyslexic.
For me there was both relief and fear in learning that my child had a learning difference. We now knew why he was struggling with reading and writing, but the question of what his schooling and future would be like loomed large. I began to learn all I could about dyslexia and how to best help him. It was through my quest to educate myself that I discovered most people do not really understand dyslexia let alone understand what dyslexics deal with daily, especially in the school environment. It became my mission to advocate for my child and any other person with a reading disability. I am thrilled to be apart of Northern Colorado Reading Initiative to help educate, support and connect people along the Front Range who face the challenges of supporting someone that struggles to read.
Shanda TeBockhorst MD, Board Member
Our school system was initially based on a very small particular population of learners and–although it may have branched out over the years–still fails to meet the needs of many children. I was one of them. Today, I am a physician along the front range, but when I was in elementary school my parents were told that I had learning disabilities. If not for my parents’, teachers’, and tutors’ dedication and understanding of various learning styles I likely would never have learned how I best learn and how to cope with our rather rigid teaching and testing system. Because of the help I received, I was able to excel in academics and follow my dreams.
Sean Rutledge, Board Member
Children with learning disabilities or unconventional learning styles are largely disenfranchised from the our educational system that functions without sufficient support for them. I know, because I was one of them. Although I eventually found my way and earned degrees in physics and law, my passion to help others similarly situated has only strengthened through the years.
Diana Ritschard, Board Member
Helping children learn and succeed in school is one of my passions. I want to see students reach their full potential and realize their dreams. I work in the Thompson Schools District and have the opportunity to work with all abilities of learners. I believe together we can make a difference for the next generation. I am excited to be a part of the NoCo Reading Initiative and contribute my knowledge and skills to the board.