The Campaign for Today and Tomorrow

The Projects - Longer Version

Professional Development -- Orton-Gillingham

Two years ago, funded by the Foundation, 25 teachers attended a week-long Orton-Gillingham (OG) workshop and since then have been using some of the techniques they learned.  Soon, they requested materials to support their teaching.  Now, nine teachers have stepped forward to participate in a two-year course of study and practicum to learn how to implement the full OG method and become certified in Orton-Gillingham.  With at least one teacher from each of Ridgewood, Linden and Forest Avenue Schools as well as the Middle/High School participating in the training, they will share what they learn with their colleagues and eventually become consultants to them helping to formulate solutions to student literacy learning issues.

From Orton Academy:

The Orton-Gillingham Approach always is focused upon the learning needs of the individual student. Orton-Gillingham (OG) practitioners design lessons and materials to work with students at the level they present by pacing instruction and the introduction of new materials to their individual strengths and weaknesses.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.  It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.The essential curricular content and instructional practices that characterize the Orton-Gillingham Approach are derived from two sources: first from a body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 80 years, and second from scientific evidence about how individuals learn to read and write.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is most often associated with a one-on-one teacher-student instructional model. Its use in small group instruction is not uncommon. A successful adaptation of the Approach has demonstrated its value for classroom instruction. Reading, spelling and writing difficulties have been the dominant focus of the Approach although it has been successfully adapted for use with students who exhibit difficulty with mathematics.


Teachers typically administer Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) one on one with a student three times per year.  These assessments require days to complete and take time away from group instruction.  When a student is performing the reading assessment with a teacher, the remainder of the class is in the classroom doing independent work or center work with a paraprofessional supervising.  Particularly now, since students are attending school for a shortened day, any time the teacher is away from the entire class, it is valuable lost time.  

Literably will be used for assessing reading skills in grades K-6 three times during the year.  The system will keep a running record of students reading out loud into a device, along with several comprehension questions and a short retell.  Then, Literably personnel and software score, report, and track results so teachers can spend more time responding to student needs.  The DRA will still be used to reevaluate students as needed based on the results of the Literably assessment. 

The program will be evaluated by staff and, if successful in our district, will be used in subsequent years continuing to provide educational time.

Emergent Needs

Teaching a classroom full of students is never easy but trying to meet educational standards with students in school for shortened hours, or not in the building at all, requires a herculean effort and creative solutions.  Whether it is finding a way to engage a 5-year old signing in from home, keep a 9-year old in the chair for several hours without much relief, or creating novel ways to reinforce foreign language learning for a stressed out high school student, teachers at all levels have developed solutions to help make the learning process more positive for their students.  As time goes on, the Foundation would like to continue supporting students and teachers through this program.

Pursuing Equity

Glen Ridge will have ten adult participants (administrators, teachers, counselors, staff, etc.) working as two teams of five (5). Ten students will also be able to attend two student events.  There will be five CJCEE sessions organized to facilitate the work of the district teams and designed to help accomplish specific goals of the district. Therefore, the overarching purpose is to apply what is learned in the CJCEE sessions to work with diversity in the schools.  The team members will work together the entire year

Team members should be interested in the topic of social justice and come ready to work. These team members will also serve as the individuals mentoring and assisting the students in the work they will do over the year.

Participating Glen Ridge students will come from the high school  are committed to and interested in social justice work. These students will work with the adult team. Students will be expected to attend two conferences (October and June) and implement district set goals at the student level.

Virtual High School

Founded in 2011, the Glen Ridge Virtual High School program (VHS) is a boon for Glen Ridge High School students.  It affords them many opportunities to broaden their learning and enhance their academic resumes.  It offers over 200 courses including many AP classes, several languages, including American Sign Language, a host of special interest opportunities ranging from Oceanography to Film and Literature to Constitutional Law—all of which would not be possible given the fiscal limits of the district’s budget.  These VHS courses reflect students’ varied interests, allowing them to explore those interests in their own time and at their own pace.  And the VHS results are impressive. 

Perhaps just as important, students learn self-responsibility and time management skills that will serve them well in college.  As an added bonus, the number of AP courses Glen Ridge students take helps boost rankings.  In essence, VHS makes Glen Ridge High School better:  large school course offerings within a small school environment.