Bobbi Barrows - Mentor Teacher
By: Bobbi Barrows
Bobbi Barrows, this month's mentor teacher began as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Americorps volunteers work to help teach children to read, build houses, and respond to natural disasters. Bobbie was one of only ten national winners from across America to receive the All AmeriCorps Award at a national ceremony from President Clinton on January 15, 2001. She won her "Getting Things Done" Award for her efforts in literacy. Bobbi, who has struggled throughout her life with dyslexia, teaches dyslexic children to read in Mississippi. Ms. Barrows also began a literacy class for adults using the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Literacy Program and she is now attending college to obtain her bachelors degree in education with a speciality in reading so that she can become a "regular" classroom teacher. Her story is a tribute to the success individuals with LD can have and the impact they can make on the lives of others. We feature her both as our First Person story and as our mentor teacher during the month of October.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What took you into the AmeriCorps? How did you know you could teach reading so well?
A: AmeriCorps was made available to me when our district Superintendent, Dr. Tom Clark, visited our school and introduced us to an idea of getting our teaching certificate with the help of a scholarship. That was something that I thought I wanted to do and pursued it. It wasn't until I stood to take my oath to serve my country via AmeriCorps that I realized that this was what I was doing. It thrilled my soul to know that I had been given this opportunity as I had been rejected from all branches of the armed forces. It was in short an answer to a prayer and the healing of a wound. As for knowing that I could teach reading...I home schooled my own two daughters for six years. The oldest went back to public school in 10th grade and graduated with honors. The youngest went back in the 8th grade and graduated with "high" honors. Both are contributing citizens as the oldest owns her own business and the youngest is finishing up on her externship in Veterinary Technology.
With President Clinton are myself and my husband. My words to the president were, "Thank you sir for the opportunity to serve my country".
Q: The article that we saw about your numerous awards said that, "This Lady Gets Things Done." Tell me about the types of projects that you have started.
A: This is a little hard for me to do. I'm not real good at tooting my own horn. I started an adult reading class through Project Hope directed by Ms. Donna Porter, our Early Childhood Intervention/Dyslexia Coordinator (and my nominator for two awards I received). Five ladies successfully finished the program and are working on their GED's now. To date I'm working on a program to be held this Thursday the 27th called the We Care Campaign. This campaign is designed to allow the children in our school to feel like they did what they could to help with the cleanup efforts of the tragedy our nation suffered this month and to build patriotism. Our guests of honor will be fathers of some of our children that have been called out.
This is a photo of the children that make me so proud at work. They range from 2nd grade to 6th grade.
Q: What special teaching styles do you use with children who have difficulty reading? Do you use pictures or a special method of instruction? Are there activities that you use to help a child's self esteem?
A: I use the Texas Scottish Rite Dyslexia Training Program to service the children. This is a multi-sensory, systematic, structured language based approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling. This is based on Orton Gillingham Techniques. The program in itself affords the children instant success and builds self-esteem. Our classroom is a very positive place for these children and we share plenty of smiles and very few problems.
Q: Do you change your teaching styles for classes of children and adults?
A: I use the Texas Scottish Rite Literacy Program for the adults. This program is very similar to the one used in the elementary school but, I get to talk on an adult level. Other than that I have to approach it in the same manner.
Q: Tell me about one special teaching moment. Was there one point when you that knew had had really made an incredible break through?
A: The notes that I scanned for you will help to show you how special every day is for me. These children are so very thankful for help and success that I'm very happy doing what I do.
Q: What message would you like to give all teachers?
A: This is a very frustrating situation to be put in as a child. They're smart and know it. They want to be like the rest of your class and it is available for them to function as the rest after someone hands them the key to unlock the door. These children deserve to effectively learn to read, write, and spell.
Q: What message would you like parents of dyslexic children to receive?
A: Be the squeaky wheel. You'll get the grease! Maybe this program isn't the one you want but don't let Johnny get lost in the shuffle. You may be raising the next Einstein.
Bobbi Barrows (2001)