Zannie Danks Davis
Since 1995 my one-on-one tutoring programme has assisted dyslexics to achieve literacy success as demonstrated by the results of standard tests, such as WISC-III and -IV®, WIAT®, administered by psychologists. Invariably reassessed students have greatly improved their age abilities for various literacy skills over those they had before tutoring began (see representative examples on the Student Results page).
My interest in dyslexia comes from my acute, painful, and personal experiences as a dyslexic who dropped out of school at 14 years old functionally illiterate.
The turning point in my life came in the 1970s when a school teacher, who also had Specific Learning Disabilities (SPELD) training, told me that one of my own children was dyslexic. When I read the symptoms of dyslexia in the pamphlets the teacher brought to my home, my feelings were a mixture of shock, acute sadness, and pain. It was only then I realised I was dyslexic, and it was a genetic condition in my family which had now affected one of my children.
View videos of Zannie previewing her tutoring programme and showing a successful conclusion of a lesson.
I became involved with the organisation SPELD, and for 4 years I was President of the Auckland Branch. Through this involvement I brought Educational Kinesiology into New Zealand with Phillip Crockford. This move brought in parts of Brain Gym ® before brain gym as such actually existed.
I then became involved at the national level in SPELD and for 4 years became the Vice President of SPELD New Zealand. I headed the lobby group who fought and tried to have dyslexia officially recognised and included in the Education Act of New Zealand. For my services to SPELD I was made a Life Member.
An employment opportunity brought me into contact with youth at risk, where I was a supervisor in a behaviour modification programme for offenders 11 to 17 years old (later called Felix Donnelly College). These were high risk children and youths. I quickly realised that 90% of them were not only from dysfunctional backgrounds, but they also had dyslexic tendencies. Working in this multicultural environment and teaching them to read was when I started to develop my programme. I noticed the successes they were experiencing.
The success of my one-on-one tutoring programme over the last 18 years has been demonstrated by the results of standard tests administered by psychologists (e.g., WISC-III®, WIAT®). Invariably reassessed students greatly improve their age abilities for the various literacy skills over those they had before tutoring began, and are progressing as shown by the ratio gains.
These successes for children who were previously struggling or failing in the school system have literally saved their lives. It has opened up their true potential with recognition and acceptance of their learning differences and learning styles.
My programme teaches students the way that they learn, using a multisensory approach. My step-by-step practical method is based on my first-hand experience of how dyslexics learn.
From being functionally illiterate beings to now literate beings with their minds open to the world of words, these intelligent children are now able to become happy and successful people who can continue to think outside the square and take their rightful place in wider society.
My programme helps more than dyslexics. I tutored an 11-year-old boy who had a stroke at birth. You need to see his progress to believe it.
Before I started to tutor him he had a teacher aide who worked solely with him in the classroom: now he needs no extra assistance in the classroom. Previously his auditory perception was very weak and he could not use or call on visual feedback. He could not remember simple words such as "father", "baby", "been", and "also". He is now at Level 5 of the spelling list and is moving forward at great speed.
He is retaining and using words such as "geography", "author", "scenery", "anxious", and "ancient" and using them in context and with understanding. Through my tutoring programme he can now use the learning styles given to him before his "interference" occurred: I use the word "interference" instead of "stroke" deliberately, because I believe many things can interfere with learning causing disabilities. High temperatures, unhappy childhood, and second languages can all cause confusion to our brains. You could say my programme unscrambles the confusion.
My programme will also help the average learner to improve, and make things easier for the high achiever.
I know I've only mentioned boys. Girls also have problems and I feel they are overlooked far too often. Perhaps it is because their behaviour is different and they are more likely to keep quiet and struggle in silence. Or is it that more emphasis is still on "boys' education"? Good question!
I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing of your successes.
Zannie Danks Davis
Postscript: Zannie passed away on 21 August 2014. Her successful tutoring programme, with many trained tutors, is her continuing legacy to help dyslexics achieve literacy success.