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Dyslexia tutoring center opens in Superior

A new resource for children with dyslexia opens in Superior next month. The Children's Dyslexia Center of Upper Wisconsin's Superior campus holds the potential to offer free tutoring to as many as 16 children with dyslexia.

Anyone interested in the program—parents as well as prospective tutors and volunteers—can tour the classrooms during an open house Saturday, Dec. 15. The reception begins at 1 p.m. and a dedication will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Acacia-Itasca Masonic Lodge, 3117 N. 21st St.

The Children's Dyslexia Centers Inc. now has 44 locations in the northeastern United States, including three other centers in Wisconsin, according to Arby Humphrey, a director with Children's Dyslexia Centers and a member of the Acacia-Itasca Lodge.

"They've had a very successful program tutoring thousands of children," he said.

For over two decades, the Scottish Rite Masons, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, have been national leaders in the effort to help children with dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects areas of the brain that process language. Just as Shriners sponsor Shrine Hospitals, Scottish Rite Freemasons support these dyslexia centers.

"Masons do so much in every community and we usually do it very quietly," said Humphrey, who served as the Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin last year. "But we have a lot of charities, a lot of good work we do out there."

Currently, students as far away as Rice Lake travel more than two hours to get tutoring at the nearest dyslexia center in Eau Claire. The Superior campus will open tutoring services up to the entire Twin Ports area. There's a huge untapped need, Humphrey said. According to the International Dyslexia Association, as many as 20 percent of the population has some of the symptoms of dyslexia. The condition can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically.

The tutoring offered at Children's Dyslexia Centers, which is accredited by the association, can make a dramatic impact.

"These kids come into the program. You know you can just see their demeanor, they're down and some of them are rebellious, some of them are just depressed," Humphrey said. "They're frustrated, and you can see it on them by their behavior and two or three years later when they graduate they're reading at or above their grade level and you see a different kid. You see a kid with confidence and happy and it's just over and over again you see that story."

Lessons are set to begin on the Superior campus Jan. 8, but the time to call is now. Anyone seeking tutoring for their child or those interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, a member of the committee or a non-tutor volunteer can call the Eau Claire campus at 715-598-4986 or visit https://www.wicdc.org/.

To receive tutoring, a child must be diagnosed with dyslexia, something Humphrey said can be done through the school system. The Children's Dyslexia Center of Upper Wisconsin offers up to three years of free tutoring to students, who can range in age from 6-18.

To become a certified tutor, volunteers must have a passion for helping children, a bachelor's degree and a love of reading. Tutor training begins with three days of classes Jan. 25-27. The remaining course instruction taking place once a month.

Everyone is invited to stop by the Acacia-Itasca Masonic Lodge on Saturday to learn more about the center.

"You see you change the lives of not only the kids but their parents and possibly their families in the future, so it's a great program," Humphrey said.

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