Suzanne Ybarra will serve students identified as dyslexic and assist teachers with strategies to help all students struggling with reading at St. Gregory Cathedral School starting this fall.
Ybarra, a dyslexia and reading specialist, said she wanted to join the faculty at St. Gregory because she had a previous “great working relationship” with Principal Vicky Chenevert and because she is Catholic.
“This is my church community. There is a need for a dyslexia teacher here, so I was willing to jump in,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be working with my church community.”
Ybarra will work throughout the day with several small groups of students - three to five - focusing on their needs, providing basic language skills through reading intervention and a program from Neuhaus Education Center, a nonprofit in Houston that works with teachers that help readers to teach struggling readers, not just dyslexia students.
She received intense training at Neuhaus for about two years, becoming a dyslexia practitioner. She is a certified reading specialist and a master reading teacher.
Ybarra said she enjoys working with dyslexic children because they are smart but struggling with reading and they are frustrated. “Being able to work with them and provide them the tools they need, seeing them grow and seeing their self esteem and self image improve is amazing,” she said.
Ybarra will serve all grade levels of students from prekindergarten through fifth grade at St. Gregory identified as dyslexic and work with teachers as well.
One of her responsibilities will be to help with early identification of students with dyslexia and having difficulty with reading.
Characteristics early on during the development of such children is delayed learning to talk, difficulty learning the letters of the alphabet, difficulty with hearing sounds in words and manipulating sounds in words, Ybarra said.
“It’s not a hearing issue; there’s a lack of sensitivity to those sounds, difficulty with rhyming, difficulty reading words with fluency and decoding,” she said.
Ybarra was in Chapel Hill ISD for eight years, starting as a reading interventionist at Wise Elementary. After a few years, she was approached about getting trained to become a dyslexia teacher. The last four years, she was a dyslexia teacher and last year was the district dyslexia coordinator for Chapel Hill.
Ybarra is originally from Arkansas and earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood specialization from Henderson State University.
Afterward, she taught kindergarten in West Texas in Pecos, then taught in Lubbock, first as an open concept kindergarten class teacher with another teacher and then as a second grade teacher. Her husband was transferred to Tyler and she became a reading interventionist at Wise Elementary.
Ybarra went back to school and got her master’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler. She will be starting her 19th year in education this fall.