Dyslexia: Mascot, Tribute, Team.
I wanted a mascot again.
While teaching in the public schools for twenty years, I got to be part of many teams. I’ve been a Black Hawk Cougar, an Oak Hill Owl, and an Edmondson Stallion to name a few.
Several years ago, in order to be able to freely use the word dyslexia and to teach reading and spelling in the way I believed best, I left the public schools and started teaching on my own.
My business grew to a team of thirteen tutors. Being proud of my team, my students, and the people I have met along the way, I wanted a mascot again.
Mascots give the feeling of being part of a team. A strong team. A winning team. Something to be proud of. Something to cheer for.
My favorite animal is a mountain lion/puma/panther, so picking a team mascot was easy for me. I found a picture of a mountain lion; its face shows a look of determination that reminds me of my students and parents once they’ve learned about the strengths that come with dyslexia and once they begin to feel the effects of strong, effective reading and spelling instruction.
Deciding the name of our team was a little trickier. I had been denied, written up, ignored, black-listed, and shunned as a teacher in my home district for any mention of dyslexia. With each student success story, though, I grew more emboldened. Learning from dyslexia experts and other specialized tutors, I grew more confident. I wanted our team name to reflect the sort of confident stubbornness that I felt, and it would sound good if it started with the letter R so it would fit nicely after my business name (Rapid City Dyslexia Care – RCDC for short).
How about “RCDC Renegades”? Yes, I liked it. We in the “dyslexia world” often break from the norm and do things a little differently. When I looked up the definition, though, I really didn’t want to be known as being a “deserter” or a “traitor”. Nope, not Renegades.
How about “RCDC Rebels”? That would still communicate the confident stubbornness we have as dyslexia students, parents, and tutors, yet seems a little softer than renegade. When I looked up the definition, I did like the part about “a person who resists tradition”, but the main part of the definition was a person “who resists authority” or “who rises up in arms against the government”. Nope, RCDC Rebels was not a good fit.
Rogue?… Relentless?… Searching for synonyms that described our team of students, parents, and specialized tutors and started with the letter R brought me to the perfect word:
Res-o-lute: firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose. Characterized by firmness and determination
adamant, bold, courageous, decided, dogged, faithful, firm, intrepid, meaning business, persevering, persistent, purposeful, relentless, staunch, steadfast, strong, stubborn, tenacious, true, undaunted
In the definition and synonyms of the word RESOLUTE, I found words that describe people across the world who are involved somehow in this dyslexia community! I thought of parents, brain researchers, teachers, dyslexia experts, and of course children and adults with dyslexia.
SO perfect was this word and its synonyms at describing those involved in any way with dyslexia, that I did not want to limit it to my little circle! This was huge! I wanted to open it up as a team name and tribute word to everyone involved with dyslexia.
When I see the definition and synonyms of RESOLUTE, many people in the dyslexia community come to mind:
I think of students with dyslexia, in classrooms where dyslexia is not yet understood. They feel stupid and are told that they just need to try harder. Many save their tears of frustration for home. I picture them trudging back to school, day after day. Courageous. Persevering.
I think of parents and grandparents who are just learning about dyslexia. Sitting in meetings and sharing how the schools can best teach and support their children feels like an impossible battle with never-ending hoops and answers of “No”. It would be SO much easier to stay quiet and just nod and agree, and yet these parents do not give up. Set in purpose. Bold. Meaning business.
I think of researchers and reading experts who have shared their knowledge about dyslexia and have discussed and debated the best way to teach reading and spelling, only to be criticized, ignored, or shunned. Adamant. Undaunted.
I think of adults who struggled to read in school but never knew why. They felt embarrassment and shame. With sweaty palms and heart pounding, they dreaded having to read aloud. They were not told that their reading ability was not at all connected to their intelligence, thinking skills, or creativity. Many went on to success, determined to prove wrong the adults who told them otherwise. As adults, some have finally learned that dyslexia is the reason for their struggles and they are beginning to recognize the many strengths that come with dyslexia. Stubborn(in a good way!). Persistent. Strong.
I think of educators who have opened their minds to dyslexia and are willing to learn more. Faithful. Purposeful. True.
I think of teachers and tutors who learn and use a structured literacy approach to teach children and adults how to read. Set in purpose. Steadfast. Firm.
I think of parent groups like Decoding Dyslexia, who help all stakeholders connect and who take the fight to school leaders and legislators. Firmly resolved. Persistent. Steadfast. Tenacious.
I think of new students who feel so alone, thinking they must be the only person in the world to have dyslexia. I think of those who work so hard, and have to put in extra effort and time to learn to read and spell, oftentimes giving up precious after-school or evening time in order to receive specialized tutoring. As challenging as the lessons can be, these students just hang in there for the long run. I admire these students SO much. Determined. Courageous. Persevering. Persistent. Steadfast.
You may be new to this whole “dyslexia thing” and you might not feel very resolute right now. We still want you on our team! Once you find out that you are not alone and that you have strong teammates standing behind you, you will grow in confidence and resoluteness! And then you can teach, support, and cheer on new teammates.
To all of you who are involved in any way with dyslexia: The work you do is challenging. I want to thank you and also encourage you to keep pushing. You are amazing and I admire you!
Being part of this powerful dyslexia community makes me proud. We are a network. We are a team. We are the RESOLUTE.