A Message From the Executive Director

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February 2015


Rick Smith Headshot

Rick Smith

During a recent trip to my home in New Mexico, I sat with my mother one evening on the back porch reminiscing about her career in special education and listening to songs from Camelot, the magnificent Lerner and Loewe 1960’s Broadway musical. So I began to think about what IDA’s Camelot will be…

Camelot, as you may know, is a mystical and magical place contrived from the fevered musing of authors and other artisans of fantasy, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1133 AD. It is a calm and safe place where harm comes to few, resources are abundant, and homes are free of intrusion. Camelot is a place of contentment where charitableness outranks cynicism, and compassion for others is always visible–a place Lerner and Loewe maintained–where “it never rains till after sundown and by 8 am the morning fog has cleared!” Of course we know Camelot is only a legend, a place our minds know isn’t real, but our hearts and imaginations valiantly surmise is.

Structured Literacy in classrooms guided by well-prepared teachers is not an unrequited hope that exists somewhere out in the mist. It is a goal thousands of dyslexia-minded donors, volunteers, staff, reading and learning professionals, public policy makers, and families are viscerally driven to achieve. Our Camelot is a place where dyslexia coping strategies prevail and where parents don’t need to pray their child with dyslexia will have the necessary support to succeed. It’s a place where resources are abundant and children never again feel the insecurity, confusion, or loneliness of reading and learning at a different pace. It’s a world where students don’t have enhanced reading tools and instruction withdrawn by school systems because they are now reading more successfully. Finally, it is a world where public policy makers understand the importance of ensuring our students have the tools to read and learn in an optimal environment where learning differences are properly acknowledged.

Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot sounds pretty good, but our Camelot is going to feel pretty good.

The global IDA community is working tirelessly to create this reality. Branch volunteers and global partners help to organize events in many states to educate and generate funds that we invest in teacher preparation, development of standards and practices, public awareness, digital technology platform initiatives, and reading/learning assistance initiatives. Donors continue to open their hearts to us in a variety of ways that fuel the pursuit of our mission. Branches manage a plethora of leadership and support activities that continually drive us towards the creation of our Camelot. Our national conference provides networking and collaboration opportunities to professionals and families, and we are working hard on standards and certification processes that will increase school districts’ effectiveness in teaching children with learning differences.

Now we know our Camelot doesn’t exist today, but we also affirm that it will, sooner rather than later, because our committed stakeholders and 30 million Americans who live with dyslexia want it. Their collective impatience, and that of their loved ones, drives us forward with increased alacrity, purpose, and resolve. Look for us to be more aggressive and effective collaborators; depend on us to be successful fund raisers; and expect us to manage relationships with branches and volunteer leadership across the country that will fulfill this vision.

In the meantime, while we work on these, if you’ll just gaze at the horizon one evening far out where the earth meets the sky, just a few minutes before sunset when the air is clearest, you might see it—if you squint—and perhaps then, only fleetingly. But you can be confident that it is out there—our Camelot exists only a small distance beyond tomorrow.

The eloquent coup de grâce in Lerner and Loewe’s arresting musical was sung by King Arthur to a curious and enormously hopeful young man on the side of the road who wanted to know about this illusive, chimerical place called Camelot…this temperate and tranquil place… ”where once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”

King Arthur told the young man it was real.

Let’s go there together.

Be well!

Rick Smith Signature