Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading Specialist Department newsletter featured an interview with Ms. Ermitaño in their December 2009 issue.
Read the full interview below.
Life After TC…
We caught up with TC Reading Specialist graduate, Reena Ermitano, who currently runs her own reading center, Reading Specialists, in Muntinlupa City, Philippines.
What experience have you had teaching reading since you left TC?
I worked for a year as a reading clinician in the adjunct reading clinic of a private school for children with learning disabilities. Thereafter, I went into private practice, focusing on literacy assessment and providing reading enrichment and intervention to students from ages 5 to 12 in the context of individualized instruction.
How did your experience in the Reading Specialist program at TC help you in your current endeavor with Reading Specialists?
Aside from having a good mix of theory and application, having professors who are experts in the field and classmates with their own wealth of experience and insight to share contributed to my knowledge and confidence as a practitioner. TC’s prestige undoubtedly added credibility.
Which part of your educational experience at TC has been most helpful to you now that you are running your own company?
I like that a particular philosophy of teaching or method was never imposed or espoused. TC simply armed me with a solid foundation in research and theory so I could think critically about whatever was out there. Students come with different needs. To address them, there is no choice but to be eclectic in one’s approach.
How/why did you decide to start your own reading business instead of working in a Pre-school?
Unlike the United States, our schools are not equipped with a multidisciplinary team to help students with learning difficulties. When I returned nine years ago, parents had no choice but to bring their children to centers outside of school to receive speech therapy, occupational therapy, or reading intervention. It is only now–though still very rare–that schools are beginning to hire in-house specialists. That said, you could say it was by default that I started my own reading business. Also, the fact that only a few received the same kind of training I had abroad was definitely an advantage.
What are the most exciting and challenging aspects of the work you do?
Delivery of instruction is most critical to the success of any reading intervention program. So it is not only finding competent and dedicated teachers, but also training them and ensuring that the quality of teaching is always up to standard.
What advice would you give current students about working as a reading specialist, or even finding a job as a reading specialist?
I remember reading a shirt that said: ‘Whatever it Takes,’ and I thought, that’s the attitude I want all of us at the reading center to have. As for those looking for a job, I think it is important that your employer recognizes what you are capable of contributing, and for you to know the parameters of your freedom in exercising that knowledge.
What kind of success rates have you seen with your students?
Students respond differently, but generally, results of intervention are optimal when they come to us while they are still young.
What do you feel accounts for the success of the students in your program?
Quality of instruction, consistency in attendance, and commitment of parents to doing work we send home and pursuing recommendations we and other concerned professionals make.
Which programs/strategies have your students found the most helpful?
We draw from a variety of multisensory programs for decoding and spelling, which
would also include the phonological awareness component of the Barton Reading and
Spelling System. Repeated reading for fluency. Teaching text structure, mental imaging strategies, and reciprocal teaching for comprehension. For written expression, useful resources are those by Diana Hanbury King and Judith Hochman’s Basic Writing Skills.
Thanks, Reena, for sharing your experiences with us!
You can visit her website at http://www.readingspecialists.net/