History of the Learning Centers
The Masons are the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world, with a rich history in the U.S. that dates back to colonial times. George Washington was among the first Masons in the then newly-formed United States. A cornerstone of Scottish Rite Masonry is a wholehearted commitment to volunteerism. Masons do their charitable work at a level where real differences can be made in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Following the philanthropic precedent of many other Masonic charities, notably the Shriners Hospitals, the Children’s Dyslexia Centers Program represents a substantial charitable commitment. This commitment totaled $8 million in 2005, and we anticipate that the program will grow to even greater capacity in coming years.
In 1994, the Scottish Rite Masons joined forces with the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital to launch a major endeavor to help ease the lifelong burdens of dyslexia. Until the Children’s Learning Centers were launched in the 15 states of this organization’s Northern Jurisdiction, no other national charity had adopted this critical need as a major concern. Although studies revealed the existence of remarkably effective programs for treating dyslexia, no one was addressing the issue and its cost to individuals and society in a systematic way.
The initial goal was to open 55 dyslexia centers in 15 states. At that time, the Masons made the following philanthropic pledges:
- To help children with dyslexia learn to read and to reach their full potential
- To help their families end the frustration, guilt, and disruption caused by dyslexia
- To help communities by building Learning Centers to help children succeed in and out of school
- To fully fund this endeavor
The Children’s Dyslexia Centers, now in 15 states, provide tutoring at no charge to children from kindergarten through high school who have been diagnosed as dyslexic. Children are eligible regardless of economic status, race, religion, or Masonic affiliation. The positive impact of early intervention on the lives of these children and their families is enormous and inspires our commitment to this program.
Additionally the Scottish Rite Masons Southern Jurisdiction runs 165 RiteCare clinics, centers, and special programs for children with speech, language, hearing, and learning disorders.
History of the Curriculum
The curriculum used as the basis for tutoring and tutor training at all Children’s Learning Centers integrates principles of two of the leading Orton-Gillingham approaches. The Orton-Gillingham approach, developed in the 1920s, uses a sequential multisensory phonetic approach. Thus, a variety of sensory data is used to help children understand the written word.
School teachers receive training and continuing education credits to become certified Children’s Learning Center tutors. Children are tutored one on one twice a week after regular school hours. This allows for the curriculum to be tailored to each individual child as necessary, and progress is made in small, readily quantifiable steps. Services provided by the Children’s Dyslexia Centers equip children with the skills and the confidence they need to approach learning with eagerness and without fear.