DANVILLE – The Children’s Dyslexia Center of East Central Illinois has started its 11th year and remains dedicated to children and helping them reach their full potential.
The center's new director is Julie Boersma. The center has 16 students and five tutors.
Tutoring started at the center in February 2008 inside the Masonic Temple at 109 W. North St.
Dyslexia is a neurological learning disability that makes it difficult for children and adults to read, write and spell. It affects up to one out of every five people and affects boys and girls equally.
The center is a nonprofit organization that provides tutoring free of charge to students in first through 12th grades who have difficulty in the areas of reading, writing and/or spelling. Students need not to have been diagnosed with a learning disability and/or dyslexia to qualify for the program.
However, formal testing must be conducted and an application to the center needs to include supporting information.
The tutors, each of whom has been trained in the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach, develop specific lesson plans for each student. Tutors teach students the structure of the English language according to their individual strengths, needs and pace.
Students typically complete the program in about two years. This past May, six students finished the program and graduated.
The tutors must undergo 100 hours of training before being certified.
The dyslexia center is supported by Masons of the Valley of Vermilion. The center is open Mondays through Thursdays.
Those able to receive tutoring at the center must live within the Valley of Danville Scottish Rite’s jurisdiction, which stretches from just south of Joliet, south to Mount Carmel, west to Mahomet and east to the state line.
Boersma served in the interim and came on as director this past summer after former director Brenda Massey retired. The board chose her as the next director in June. Boersma is the center’s fourth director. Boersma has been a tutor at the center since 2015.
She’s a former Bismarck mayor and retired after 35 years as a school teacher. She taught home economics in Milford for 10 years and was a special education teacher for 25 years at Bismarck-Henning High School.
Boersma said she’s known former Danville Mayor Bob Jones, who was instrumental from the beginning in starting the dyslexia center and has been chairman of the dyslexia center’s board, for a long time.
When she retired from teaching, she had more time to be involved with the dyslexia center.
"It's very rewarding," Boersma said.
She said it's great that the tutors can work one-on-one with the students.
“It is phenonmenal,” she said about seeing the student’s transformation from when they start there and then graduate.
The tutors meet with the students for two 50-minute sessions each week.
Boersma has tutored 15 students since she’s been with the center, having some years where she did “double duty.”
Coming up in the summer of 2020, Boersma said she and supervisor and tutor Christy Hott will be teaching a class for those interested in becoming a tutor.
“We hope to get four to five people,” Boersma said.
She said they also work with the schools to identify potential tutors.
Funding for the center largely comes from donations. The next fundraiser is on Nov. 8 and 9.
Boersma said they’re having a family-friendly comedy show.
The board of directors of the center presents comedian Jeremy Nunes, Front Porch Comedy, with special guest Larry Smith in his “Who’s with me?!” tour. Jeremy is often referred to as “Comedy’s Next Great Storyteller.” His act has been in demand nationwide for more than 15 years. He is an engaging performer who has the ability to improvise with his audience, according to the board.
The comedy show is at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9 at the Knights of Columbus, 310 Bryan Ave., Danville. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased in advance at the Knights of Columbus or the Masonic Temple in Danville. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $20 each.
The board encourages people to attend the show and have fun with good friends.
Businesses wishing to purchase tickets as sponsors will be provided with seats in reserved sections. All sponsor levels are tax deductible.
Additional information is available at the K of C (217) 443-0032 and at the Masonic Temple (217) 446-9377 or (217) 446-7620. Boersma also can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org