Nebraska-Kansas Director, National Right to Read Foundation
5216 Stonecreek Court
Lawrence, KS 66049
Nebraska has lost a true hero for children. The late Patti Clark founded and directed The Phoenix Academy of Learning for almost two decades. Patti welcomed all children, regardless of color, socioeconomic status, or degree of learning difficulty, and taught them all to read using Romalda Spalding's multisensory, intensive, systematic phonics. Patti was tireless in her fight for proper reading curriculum based on scientific methodology. She began her crusade for children in the 1970's. As chairman of Reading Reform for Nebraska, she attended a Florida meeting where she met Oma Riggs, one of Romalda Spalding's disciples, and brought her to Omaha to train at the College of Saint Mary. Patti's courage and dedication were instrumental in changing the future for over 2,000 children, including my oldest son Philip, who was a student at Phoenix Academy in 1993. The "experts" at school said he couldn't read; Patti knew better. And now Philip is on the Dean's List at Baker University. Patti taught me and many other parents to look at the whole child and not the problem with the child . . not what he can't do, but what we have not taught him to do. Patti inspired me to follow in her footsteps, and the Millard Core Academy, which I helped found, is a result. She was my hero and I will miss her.
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