Donald D. Deshler, Ph.D.
"Read. Read. Read," to grow intellectually and spiritually, advised one university president in a speech to his student body in the 1990s. But, when Dr. Donald Deshler took to the podium in 2004, reminding his audience of their president's past words, Deshler queried: "But what about those who want to learn [to read], and can't?" Dr. Deshler has devoted his entire career to helping students who struggle to make meaning out of all those squiggles on a page so that they, too, can reap the benefits of good books.
In his post as director of the Center for Research on Learning and a professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, Deshler is on the front lines of developing the strategies and interventions to help struggling adolescent readers read, write, and learn. At the Center, Deshler is particularly praised for the creation of the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM), a comprehensive instructional model for improving student outcomes. Over 400,000 educators in states across the country have been trained in the SIMS model through the Center's International Professional Development Network. Deshler's research and work in the field addresses the need to both change the way students learn, but also to help change the way teachers teach in order to reach all students.
Deshler began his career at Whitman College and entered the teaching world as a middle school teacher. While earning a master's in learning disabilities at the University of Arizona, Deshler worked as a consulting teacher, focusing on students with learning disabilities. He eventually earned his PhD in special education and psychology and began his journey toward discovering what works best for teaching students with learning disabilities.
Because of his dedication and outstanding achievements in the field of literacy intervention, Deshler is the recipient of numerous awards, including the J.E. Wallace Wallin Award from the Council for Exceptional Children and the Learning Disabilities Association Award from the Learning Disabilities Association of America for outstanding research and service for at-risk populations. He was also named one of the 50 most influential scholars in the field of special education in the 20th century by the Journal of Remedial and Special Education.