Science of Reading: The Podcast

S6 E4: From the community, for the community: Grassroots organizing with Naomi Peña & Akeela Azcuy

October 19, 2022 Amplify Education Season 6 Episode 4
Science of Reading: The Podcast
S6 E4: From the community, for the community: Grassroots organizing with Naomi Peña & Akeela Azcuy
Show Notes Transcript

Community and education activist Naomi Peña and clinical psychologist Dr. Akeela Azcuy knew that, as moms of struggling readers themselves, they had the opportunity to advocate for not only their own children but all children. These two leaders and changemakers founded Literacy Academy Collective with the goal of one day creating a stand-alone New York City public school devoted to educating children with language-based learning disabilities as well as struggling readers. In this episode, our guests share their own families’ experiences with dyslexia, how that impacted their activism, and how listeners at home can effect grassroots change in their own communities.

Additional Resources:

Quotes:

“Leaders tend to forget that you get more out of parents if you collaborate with them, if you're honest.” — Naomi Peña

“With the level and degree of training, understanding, and privilege that I had, it was still – and still continues to be – an overwhelming battle to get your child the services that they need.” — Akeela Azcuy

Susan Lambert:

This is Susan Lambert and welcome to Science of Reading: The Podcast. On this season of the show, we're focusing on how to make and sustain change in education. And on this episode, we're focusing on how change can happen from the bottom up . We're bringing you the story of a group of New York City moms who are working toward opening a new school that would be the first of its kind in New York City, a public school specifically designed to support children with language-based learning disabilities as well as other struggling readers. This group of moms is called the Literacy Academy Collective, and I spoke with two of its founders, Naomi Peña, a community and education activist, and Akeela Azcuy, a doctor of clinical psychology and a board member for the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children. And as October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, Naomi and Akeela will talk about their own families' experiences with dyslexia. Listen in to our conversation where you'll hear advice and tips for pursuing grassroots change in your own community. Here's my conversation with Naomi Peña and Dr . Akeela Azcuy. Akeela and Naomi, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us on today's episode. We appreciate it.

Naomi Peña:

Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Akeela Azcuy:

Thank you for having us.

Susan Lambert:

We are going to jump right in. And I would love if you could just briefly describe this Literacy Academy Collective, and we'll kind of dig into your story a little bit later. But let's start with this end part. So what about this Literacy Academy Collective? What can you tell us about it?

Naomi Peña:

We are a group of six founding moms who came together from personal experience with our own children who are dyslexic and decided to organize and do something about it. So we are proposing a stand- alone, first-ever New York City public school that will support students who not only struggle with dyslexia, but have other learning-based writing and reading disabilities.

Susan Lambert:

That's great. Well , given that this is Dyslexia Awareness Month, your son...do you sort of recall that moment when you realized that he might have dyslexia?

Naomi Peña:

Yeah, so I have the fortunate or unfortunate—depending on when this started — experience of all four of my children are dyslexic. My oldest is 22, the youngest are 12-year-old twins. So 16 years ago, when I got the diagnosis that he was dyslexic, it threw me into the sphere of this advocacy work and trying to figure out how to support him. But I vividly remember, you know, before we had his diagnosis , he was just having a hard time. It was just—it was constant barrage of like not getting the work done, complaints from the teachers , distractability, what he was doing instead of doing coursework. And I remember one time I, I brought him home after another day of a list of complaints , and I sat him down at the table and I was like, "What is going on here? I know you're capable of doing the work. You're not this way at home. Why, why? What's going on?" And he turned to me and said, "Mom, I don't know what it is. It's like my brain won't let me." And that was the moment that kind of gutted me, 'cause I realized my son is not being mischievous; my son is not being disrespectful, as the teachers were claiming. He was struggling with something that he couldn't control. And it literally put a fire under me to figure out what is this thing that he cannot control and how I can support him to give him a better educational experience.

Susan Lambert:

And how did you get to the heart of it being dyslexia?

Naomi Peña:

It was a journey, A journey of a thousand appointments. <Laugh>

Susan Lambert:

Oh man.

Naomi Peña:

But ultimately you have to go through the barrage of first talking to your pediatrician, getting referrals, doing the basic evaluations of your hearing, tests making sure you can hear, your vision tests , making sure you can see. Ruling stuff out, which I'm sure Akeela can talk a million days about that. But then once we got to the educational evaluation piece, when we were able to get that done, that's where we were told that where he struggled with was his reading. And it's because he has dyslexia. Then I had finally a name to the condition and then I was able to then start doing research, because now I can find what solutions I need.

Susan Lambert:

Hmm . Wow. Akeela, I wonder about your discovering that your child has dyslexia. What's similar or different about your story?

Akeela Azcuy:

Well, I have actually two children with dyslexia, out of three. So there's a lot of similarity with my son. When he first started presenting in school as having difficulty was in kindergarten. He was quite young. He was really having a difficult time during work time in school, during the instructional time, like sitting down and writing and also reading. But it seemed to be interpreted mostly as inattention, and not as being anything to do with language or reading or any of those activities. So I was getting a lot of kind of like informal feedback from teachers saying like, he's very inattentive; he's really not paying attention; his body's all over the place; he's not focused. And kind of like really identifying behaviors. And also that he was becoming a behavioral problem in the class. The big difference in my story is that I have a doctorate in clinical psychology, and I also have training in working with children and adolescents primarily. And so when I was looking at my son, I saw some other signs that were concerning to me that I would bring to the teacher, but they were not seeing those signs. I noticed in his language and the way he was—like, his expressive language and his receptive language, I noticed some challenges and difficulty. I also noted to the teachers that, you know, it really wasn't until he was three that is actually really talking. And so because I noted those things, and also because I do have experience working in New York City clinics and hospitals in New York City with families and children who are struggling in school, I had the knowledge and the ability to immediately say, "I'm gonna have my kid evaluated by a neuropsychologist, because what I see are—yes, there's inattention there, but there's also these language pieces that I didn't think would be properly evaluated in the public school system." So I did that at a very young age. And so in kindergarten he was too young to really carry the diagnosis of dyslexia. So he was diagnosed with at-risk for dyslexia and at-risk for dysgraphia. But the neuropsychologist that we spoke to said, "He really has a very clear dyslexic profile. So he needs the interventions now, even though he is not old enough to be diagnosed." But he was, you know, when I redid the evaluation a few years later when he was older. So I'm one of the very few who have that kind of outcome, because of my training.

Susan Lambert:

And I'm thinking about how you were telling us these other moms, their stories must have very similar threads through them to what both of you just described. Is that right?

Naomi Peña:

Very much so. It's often rooted in a lot of the initial...I wanna say complaints, right? We have someone on the team that their child was being accused of being a bully. And there was a deep frustration in the child, because he wasn't performing to the level that he knew his peers were and no other way to deal with that anger but to act out, right? And immediately when she started getting it assessed and she got the diagnosis and put him in the right setting, all of that went away.

Akeela Azcuy:

Right.

Naomi Peña:

So a lot of us have similar threads.

Akeela Azcuy:

Yeah . My daughter had the same. She was also considered having a behavioral problem in kindergarten. So it's so important, because the presentation of dyslexia in those young ages, it's not quite clear, right? In terms of their reading and writing? But where you really see it is in all of those behavioral responses that the child has to being in a space where they're not understanding and not able to really learn as their peers are learning.

Susan Lambert:

Hmm . So as you're thinking about, you know, pulling this Literacy Academy Collective together, and I wanna talk a little bit about that, but why was it—maybe Akeela, let's start with you—why was it that you really wanted to get involved and pull together this idea of a collective , and do something pretty interesting for kids there in New York City? What was the motivation for that?

Akeela Azcuy:

I mean, the motivation for me personally was, with the level and degree of training, understanding, and, you know, privilege that I had, it was still and still continues to be an overwhelming battle to get your child the services that they need. The basic educational services that they need to learn. It is a battle that goes on and on and on. It's unending. And there's a lot of information that's not getting to parents. Like I had to specifically ask for pieces of information about my own child. And had I not known that the information exists and what to ask for, I would've never gotten it. And so to see the amount of obstacles that are put in front of families, I was appalled. I was just appalled by that level of obfuscation and that level of...parents are not given the information that they need and the children will then never receive the services that they really need. So that for me was the reason why I wanted to do this work outside of just working with my own two kids. I wanted to do this work for other families and other parents. Because it just should not ever be the case to have to fight and to work this hard to get your child an appropriate education.

Susan Lambert:

And Naomi, what about you? Anything more to add to that? Or probably very similar, huh?

Naomi Peña:

It was. For me it was deeply based on personal experience. As I mentioned, 16 years ago when I started this with my son, I didn't know anything. I knew nothing. So I walked into the public school system with faith that they knew best, right? Teachers have degrees; I don't. Principals have been doing this a long time. And the staff is there for a reason. So a lot of the things that they were telling me that were supposed to work were not. And for years , it was filled with horrible—I could give you war stories of what my son lived through, through his elementary school, middle school, and high school process. Because I did what I was told and the outcomes were not the same. So a lot of this was being blamed on my son. He doesn't care; he's disengaged. I also wanna elevate: I'm raising children of color. So I have a son that's a brown son, who statistically in this country, they're not born with the stats in their favor. So that really kept me up at night and I was terrified. So a couple of years later, you know, decade later, when I'm in the same process with my youngest son and I saw during remote learning during the pandemic how deeply paralyzed he was with his reading, I knew I had to act. And I pulled him out of the public school system for that. And he's in an independent school for students with learning and writing disabilities. But it's a world of a difference. But by 16 years later, I have the time; I have the money; I have the language to navigate those systems. But I know 16 years ago I didn't have that. I didn't have those resources at my disposal. And then I think about the other families who are near and dear to my heart, on my public housing—I'm a proud product of public housing—and I think of those families who are literally just trying to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. And they don't have the time for that either. So we wanted to remove barriers and I knew the only way to do that was to act.

Susan Lambert:

Hmm . That's amazing. And so earlier, you talked a little bit about this application. This is kind of the thing that brought you all together as parents. Tell me a little bit about what that application was , and why it was important for maybe all of you. Like, it's kind of crazy that all these parents came together and wanted to try to do the same thing. So tell me a little bit about that process.

Akeela Azcuy:

So basically the city puts out an all-call to build schools in New York City, to the whole city. And, you know, you have a lot of people already working in schools coming up with a new idea, a new model for a school. It's really about reimagining education in New York City,

Susan Lambert:

In the public school system. Right? So just to be clear about that.

Akeela Azcuy:

The DoE has a school development department for school development. And this is one of their programs. Where they're inviting fellow educators or parents, or anyone who can submit an idea, to reimagine a school. To reimagine education, to reimagine school. And this is a way, I think, a vehicle that they use to bring in new ideas and to bring in fresh ways of viewing education and delivering education to students. So, you know, we came in with the new, fresh idea of using Structured Literacy as a way to teach children how to read and write. It was a bit of a hard sell, I can't lie <laugh>. So yeah, we came together and we worked on this. It's at first an application you submit. And then there's a process where they, you know—you have to pass a certain amount of gates in order to ultimately be the recipient of building your school. The DoE will build, kind of, like, the winner of this process. And so we made it through three cutoffs in the DoE Imagine Schools process. And then Covid hit and the whole thing shut down, actually.

Susan Lambert:

Oh yeah.

Akeela Azcuy:

So we weren't able to get to the end of that process. But we were asked during Covid , one of the coaches from DoE called us and said, "We're very interested in your idea , to continue developing it and to work with us." So the DoE at that time during Covid did continue to work with us to develop this school.

Susan Lambert:

Hmm . And Naomi, I think I remember when we were talking in the pre-call, you shared that it's kind of surprising that it actually made it through this far in this "innovative"—and I'm using air quotes on the "innovative"—school idea. You were pretty surprised about that, is that right?

Naomi Peña:

I was; I was. I think everything is a uphill battle. And so the fact that the team, we as a team, made it that far is monumental. I think once Covid hit and they said, "Keep doing the work," you know, I think they probably thought, "These women will probably just fade away." <laugh>

Susan Lambert:

Maybe they'll go away.

Naomi Peña:

Yeah. No. <Laugh> I think they quickly realized, "Wait a minute, these women are not going away. They are going to be persistent ." And we were. So we made sure that we stood, continued to have these meetings, that we continued to engage, and when there was a new administration coming in, we made sure that they knew that we were here too. So when there was a new mayor that came in with his new team, they knew that we were here. It just worked in our favor that the mayor is dyslexic himself and has really wanted to make some changes in the system. So they called upon us the minute the new administration came in and said, "What do you wanna do? And let's work together to do it." So that's where we're at at the moment.

Susan Lambert:

So in the whole context of when this innovative—your school idea came across, there is a real culture shift in terms of the approach to education in the city itself. So it was an advantage to you to have that shift, wasn't it?

Naomi Peña:

We have lucked out. I will full-on say that. New York City is a very TC, you know, Teachers College-friendly city. Our universities train teachers in the methodology. So now that we're talking about Structured Literacy and what that means, it's become a national conversation. Right? You know, it was in the New York Times. So we're just fortunate that maybe we were ahead of the curve, but we are just grateful that we're part of the curve that's moving towards change.

Susan Lambert:

Yeah. Part of the movement. I wonder...sideline question here. How often do you have to explain to folks that you were working with what Structured Literacy actually was? Was it a new concept to them?

Naomi Peña:

No, I think a lot—and Akeela can attest to this —I think a lot of people...certainly I grew up, you know, with phonics. And I think a lot of us who are parents didn't realize the way it's being taught now is different. And I think a lot of us are like, "Oh, they're just doing things differently," without realizing what happened. There was a New Yorker article that came out recently that literally documented the trajectory of Structured Literacy and how it phased into Teacher's College and what that meant, and that was helpful context, but for a long time this hasn't been happening. But I think it's gratifying knowing that it's not us. It's not you that's doing it wrong. It's not something that I'm not doing wrong at night. One thing that used to drive me crazy was that teachers would constantly ask me if I'm reading, if I have books at home, or if I'm reading to my children, as if Dr. Seuss somehow is going to solve my son's reading issues. You know, if I read Cat in the Hat long enough, he'll get it. And it just wasn't. So I'm glad we could stop blaming parents to start taking some ownership of the way we've been mishandling reading literacy in this country.

Akeela Azcuy:

We spoke to a bunch of the teacher training programs and schools around and in New York City and sort of the teacher certification programs, teacher training programs. And I'm thinking about when you ask this question, do we have to explain Structured Literacy?

Susan Lambert:

Yeah.

Akeela Azcuy:

It is often the case that we are doing a lot of explanation around what Structured Literacy actually is. And the other reason I can speak to this is like, you know, we've done two pilots in our work during summer school in New York City. There's a new program called Summer Rising that started summer before last. And we've done two pilots where we've trained teachers on how to instruct ELA blocks using Structured Literacy. So using direct and explicit instruction and that systematic cumulative diagnostic platform of teaching, reading, and writing, and all of that, decoding, understanding more of the details of it. And the teachers who have participated in this really did not have the experience in their public school education that they've been teaching in public school for years, in teaching in this way, with this method. And they were in all cases, like incredibly—it was an incredibly rewarding experience for teachers to have this opportunity and to have this kind of training experience. But we did realize that, more so with DoE Central and we spoke to a lot of politicians. There was a lot of—people know the word phonics. People don't necessarily know what Structured Literacy is.

Susan Lambert:

Yeah, that's a great point.

Akeela Azcuy:

And so Structured Literacy is like including phonics, but it's including many different parts of that umbrella. Right? It's doing the encoding as well as the decoding. It's all of the reading comprehension work. It's like the Whole Reading approach. And so that does need to be explained often.

Susan Lambert:

Yeah. And you had really good success with those pilots; that's what helped you set up for the next step, right? Tell us a little bit about the results you saw.

Akeela Azcuy:

So the first summer we were in a school in District 4, in the Community Educational District 4 in New York City. And we were in a Title 1 school. We did a five-week intervention with our DoE the Windward School and Institute. They provided us with the courses and we partnered teachers, partnered a DoE teacher with a Windward teacher in each classroom to do a lot of the modeling and coaching of not just, you know, what is Structured Literacy, but how to deliver a specific Structured Literacy lesson. And so one of the outtakes that we had in our teacher responses to it was they said, after taking a PAF course, which is the phonics program that Windward uses , we trained the teachers. Now they took the courses, but then we also did the in-person modeling and coaching. Feedback from one of the DoE teachers said, "Wow, when I read this book and when I took the course, I had no idea what it actually looked like in the classroom. Like I would've never guessed that the way you do it is in this way." So that's how we really learned that it's not just about handing teachers books and giving them courses. It's actually the modeling and the coaching that really prepares the teacher to do this work. And so we had great success. The first summer we did it, you know, we had kids improving in just five weeks. You know, we're not looking for a ton of improvement, but they're going up by like three to four words per minute that they were reading more than they were reading when they started. Incredible increases in terms of the student outcomes. But also, very importantly, in terms of the teacher learning.

Susan Lambert:

That's amazing. And to think about a group of parents that came together to do that. And Naomi, I'd love for you to talk just a little bit—I mean, I think one of the reasons that we're so excited to have you on this show—a couple of reasons—one is thank you for the work that you're doing in the public schools, by the way, and we're gonna come back and talk about that great collaboration you have with them. But the other reason is because of this sort of grassroots effort change. I mean, you had a whole group of parents with a wealth of experience. How has that helped you in, in terms of your moment and getting this change from the bottom up ?

Naomi Peña:

It makes it more...it's undeniable from the people on the top to say it's not a need. Right? We were very strategic in our relationships. You know, we were grateful that a lot of us knew people on the ground. New York City's divided into boroughs. So a lot of us were connected with a lot of people in Manhattan, for instance. 'Cause that's where we're from. So we knew all the politicians; we knew the superintendents who are in charge of each of the school districts. There's six of them. We knew a number of the principals. We knew the politicians. Like I said before, we knew people, organizers, in each of the communities. So it was easy to—our vision was to pitch Manhattan 'cause that's where we're from. And that just was an easier lift. So when we were presenting this and they were saying, "Well, you know , who's asking for this?" We're like , "Well actually, here's a list of everyone that says yes." Right? So it's a harder—you can't say no when it's more than one person. But when they said, "OK, well, we wanna do this in the South Bronx," which is just as better, if not great. It's a district that needs a lot of the resources. It's an easier lift, because now we know DoE, you know, the Department of Education, is signing up for this. But also it's undeniable that if the person that's running the city, like the mayor, is talking about this and has explicitly said, "We are going to champion this," you have to then commit to doing this <laugh> . So that's what's happened a little bit. They're like, "Oh, well, you know, you'll do the school sometime in the future; we're still talking about that..." But then the Chancellor, who is the number two to the mayor, said, "We are gonna open up a school next year," we're like, "Oh, OK. <Laugh> I guess we're gonna open up a school next year!" But this is all part of the way this works, you know. Things happen on the fly and you have to pivot. You know, I think "pivot" is the word of the pandemic Constantly. But it makes the work so much more gratifying, honestly, because we know that we have the community buy-in. And ultimately this is not about politicians. This is not about egos. This is literally about serving the most vulnerable—one of the most vulnerable populations that we have in the city and it is our struggling readers. And I know there's a deep, deep impact that we can make. If my son, who has benefited from the experience of being in the school for one year; I saw how he walked and talked different within two months. The fact that my kid can read a restaurant menu and read subtitles for a show, like that made me sob. And that's something that every child should have and experience.

Susan Lambert:

Mm-hmm. <Affirmative> . And so, explain a little bit about this school in the Bronx. So you have a school in the Bronx dedicated to this Structured Literacy approach. Is that right?

Akeela Azcuy:

Yeah. We are building the first NYC DoE public school in New York City to educate children with language-based learning disabilities as well as struggling readers. That's very intentional in our wording because many, many, many children in our city will never be diagnosed, can never get the diagnosis of dyslexia. That is a big barrier. And we want parents to be able to say, "Listen, my kid is not reading, my kid is not writing. Can you please look to see if my child would be a good fit for this school?" So we want to be able to take referrals, not just from schools and education providers, but also directly from parents who are saying, "Hey, my kid is struggling here. They need help."

Naomi Peña:

The goal is to have a space where it's completely barrier-free. You do not need to have an IEP. You do not need to be diagnosed. You do not need to have the resources to hire an attorney. All you need to do is be a child that has been struggling to read. We will look to teachers and school leaders to recommend those students to us. And also through parent engagement. A parent knows when a child is struggling. You will apply to our school. We will then accept the child and then we will service them in the way that they need it. We wanna create a space that is holistic, is supportive, not just of the student, but also of the parent. We need to create a safe space for parents to have conversations and to stop the gaslighting. Because I know for myself, I was appalled that my son walked into school last year as a fifth grader reading at the second-grade level. Appalled. And no one ever told me. No one ever explicitly said, "Your son is reading at a second-grade level." So we wanna create an environment where we can stop gaslighting parents and just tell them exactly what's going on and how we're gonna work together as a partnership to support their child to be successful. I think a lot of schools view parents as, you know, depending on the parent, as problematic, because we're passionate. Right? We care about our kids. We care. And sometimes frustration comes out in ways. But leaders tend to forget that you get more out of parents if you collaborate with them, if you're honest. And we wanna create a space where we can create that environment and also be an example for other people across this country. And, you know, even the globe. Because the truth is a New York City kid that cannot read in New York City is also the kid that cannot read in suburbia somewhere. Or in rural America somewhere. Or even in a different country. So we wanna be able to create sort of a...we're calling it The Lighthouse School because we wanna create a platform to show people, when you do this right, what the amazing outcomes can be.

Susan Lambert:

That's great. And you know what I love about your story too, is your willingness. You were talking about how you want schools to understand, like, just collaborate with parents. Right? For the sake of a great education for kids. You've modeled that as well, too. So you have great relationships with the Department of Education; you've come alongside teachers and really helped support them in their development. So there's not a finger-pointing or blame game going on with you. Is there?

Naomi Peña:

No. Like, no. And I think that's part of the conversation we need to have. Look, we don't always agree with the Department of Education. We have had conversations where we're like, "No, we're not.... No. We don't agree with that <laugh> ." But that is the first step in saying, "Listen, we're not going to always agree, but we're not going to disrespect each other." But also we're going to name things. We're going to say "dyslexia," and we're going to say, "I am sorry we weren't able to support you better, but we're going to support you now and this is the way it's gonna work." And a lot of people are wanting, "Well, why can't we do this for everyone?" Well, unfortunately we don't have a Matrix-style training program where we can plug in teachers and leaders, you know, program them with Structural Literacy and send them into the classroom. It's gonna take time. But it's an investment that we need to make for our students.

Susan Lambert:

Akeela, did you wanna say something else to that?

Akeela Azcuy:

Yeah, I just wanted to add that there's a lot of education that we have to do in this space. And having a Lighthouse School elevates that we're all learners in this space as well. School leaders are learners; teachers are learners; students are learners; parents are learners; and we are learners together. And so having a space where school leaders from the city and all over can come and see what does Structured Literacy look like in a school setting? Teachers can come and learn. You know, we have really great plans of building out a teaching fellowship program. Bring teachers in from across the city, train them in how to do this, and then send them back to their local public schools where they can support students in their schools that are having challenges with reading and writing. So we really see this school as part of the ecosystem of the entire public school system, that we really want to be a collaborator, not just with parents, but with other schools and other districts and with teachers. A lot of this is un-siloing the Structured Literacy approach, bringing it out of the private education space and bringing that into the public education space, that students in public school have dyslexia and they need access to this type of education.

Susan Lambert:

So I wonder, sort of in closing here for those—so you're in New York City and the work that you're doing in New York City, amazing. What about parents or teachers who really wanna push for this type of change in their community, that don't live in New York City. That live rural, in another state. What advice might you have for them?

Naomi Peña:

I would say you have to start local. As I mentioned before, the key to our success was really galvanizing on the ground. So first, find parents that are having the same issues just like you. And start having conversations and start sharing stories. And then the next step is look at, you know, if you can loop in some of those teachers. The teachers that we have found that we have come to us want this training!

Akeela Azcuy:

YES.

Naomi Peña:

Thoroughly know that they are not supporting literacy in their classrooms. They know this. And they wanna do better. And then start looking at decision-makers in your district. Is it your superintendent? Is it your legislator? And start creating, if you need to create a petition, do that. Start presenting yourself at school board meetings. You need to make this an issue, that anytime someone says dyslexia, they think of, "Oh, that's that parent in my district." Or "that's the parent in that school that has said that to me." Because that's what's happened to us at the moment. Whenever they say dyslexia, they think of Literacy Academy Collective and the work that we're doing. And we're grateful, because we do not want to be hoarders of any information. This needs to be shared broadly. So it it has to start local and you have to be persistent. Like a dog that refuses to let go of a bone.

Akeela Azcuy:

You know, also from the other side of it, like experts that have been working in this space, like, you know, neuropsychologists and psychologists and so many people sort of in the education space that have been working in the world of learning disability, they're so eager to help parents who want to organize. Because they see how their students and the kids that they're seeing are not getting the services. So also reach out to any expert in your area or clinic or any of those spaces that work with kids with learning disabilities. They are eager to help and kind of provide some of that education and learning to parents who really wanna take this further as well.

Susan Lambert:

That's great. Well, we appreciate you sharing your story with us so much. Thank you for the work that you're doing there in New York City. And as always, we will link our listeners in the show notes to your website so that they can check it out. But thank you so much for joining us and again, thanks for the work that you're doing. We appreciate it.

Naomi Peña:

Thank you for the time, Susan. Appreciate it.

Akeela Azcuy:

Thank you so much.

Susan Lambert:

Thanks so much for listening to my conversation with Naomi Peña and Dr . Akeela Azcuy. We'll have links to more information about the Literacy Academy Collective, including the group's website, in our show notes. Next time on Science of Reading: The Podcast, we'll hear from a former Chicago and New Orleans school administrator about the importance of school-level leadership in the transition to the Science of Reading.

Speaker :

I always say this: So goes the principal, so goes the school. As an instructional leader, you set the vision, you set the expectation. The next step for me, which I think is missing, you have to study! You can't lead a work that you don't know about. How is it that you're going to improve literacy instruction and you don't know literacy instruction?

Susan Lambert:

Stay tuned for that, and keep up with the show by joining our Facebook group, Science of Reading: The Community. Don't forget to join me there on October 26th for a Facebook Live discussion where I'll talk about this season of the podcast and answer your Science of Reading questions. Find out more at Science of Reading: The Community, on Facebook.