For fifty years, Meredith-Dunn School has served students with language-based learning disorders in the metropolitan Louisville area and surrounding counties. Founded in 1971 by Shirley Meredith and David Dunn as a tutorial service, it quickly expanded to include evaluations, Saturday classes and a summer remedial program. Today, Meredith-Dunn School serves close to 200 students each year in grade K-8 maintaining its mission to provide prescriptive instruction in a nurturing environment designed to empower students who learn differently in becoming accomplished learners and resilient individuals.
What constitutes a language-based learning disorder? While characteristics can vary based on multiple intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of each student, most often these students display average to above average intelligence with a significant discrepancy between their weak verbal skills as compared to their adequate nonverbal skills. Language processing can be difficult in the area of phonological awareness, understanding sound-symbol relationships, auditory memory and comprehension. In addition, many students struggle with the interpretation of nonverbal cures and a combination of these difficulties often result in underdeveloped social skills. Related disorders such as difficulties sustaining attention, weak motor skills, poor executive functioning, and social cognition deficits also contribute to the difficulties these students experience in a school setting.
Many students struggle in the early grades and are not identified as having a learning disability. Research has proven the effectiveness of early intervention. An emphasis on early language intervention that is integrated into all curricular areas has proven to be successful. Compensatory strategy instruction enables students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses while building their self-confidence to accomplish tasks that previously would have presented barriers to their learning new skills. Helping students develop a positive mindset toward learning allows them to practice coping skills and develop resiliency. All of this and more is taught at Meredith-Dunn in a supportive and encouraging school climate.
Meredith-Dunn has an expert and highly certified administrative, counseling and teaching staff to address the students’ needs. Classroom teachers at Meredith-Dunn offer systematic, multi-sensory, and explicit instruction. Most teachers are certified in the Wilson reading system and all teachers have that as a goal. Small class sizes address individual needs. Art therapists and a social cognition counselor offer support to students during the school day. Speech and language services are integrated into the students’ daily schedule and occupational therapy services are offered as needed.
The commitment to serving students with language-based learning disorders has never wavered over the years. The needs are as prevalent today as they were fifty years ago. As we celebrate this milestone in the education of these students, we cannot deny the testimonials that reflect how this school has made a difference in the lives of so many. We will continue to value each student as an individual with a unique pattern of strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. We will continue to promote academic integrity and personal confidence that carry students through life as productive and successful citizens.