ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Dyslexic people make up 1 in 5 of the U.S. population, but only 1 in 5 children are fortunate to attend a school like the Swift School that specializes in teaching to students with dyslexia, said Swift’s Associate Head of School Andrea Salapka.
To put it in perspective, imagine every person you meet with blue eyes is dyslexic.
But if given the opportunity to learn in the right environment, dyslexic students routinely go on to lead successful lives, even ultra-successful lives such as Charles Schwab, who founded the discount brokerage industry.
The school is partnering with SpringHill Suites Alpharetta to put on a student art show May 1 at the hotel. Why an art show?
“It’s because we know the fine arts are a wonderful, wonderful outlet for our children with dyslexia. It helps those brain connections snap together and makes the other learning, which is very hard for them, easier,” Salapka said.
Art activities can help children with learning disabilities begin to overcome the challenges they face in learning. Art also gives children with disabilities a chance to express themselves and gain confidence.
Of course dyslexic children can learn as well as anyone – just not in the traditional cookie-cutter fashion presented in most public schools. They can’t process facts and numbers presented to them in traditional teaching methods. They need a different method of instruction.
“Throwing information at them doesn’t work. They need repetition, they need hands-on involvement and they need teachers who are trained to teach these children,” she said.
The other important factor to remember is these are bright and talented children, but their gifts are not only unrecognized in public school, but are completely undetected.
They don’t do well on standardized tests. So in many schools, their gifts go unnoticed.
“These are not only very bright children, but very creative children. They think out of the box. They see solutions people like me – and I’m a pretty rigid thinker – would never see,” Salapka said.
With cuts in public education in art and music – areas where dyslexic children often excel a la Pablo Picasso – they often see themselves in some way failures.
“At the Swift School, we know our students are so talented in many different areas,” Salapka said. “So an event like this fine art exhibition allows the school to focus on the students’ strengths and then take that confidence into the other classwork. We gain confidence by building on our successes.”
The art show gives the students a chance to stand by their work and be accepted for their talents, she said.
At the show, all art work is original and was created by students at Swift School under the direction of art teacher Lynn Kaplan. The student artists will be present to discuss their work.