Northern New England Alliance
Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

November 2022 Newsletter - Edited by N. Kring-Burns, D. Dorfman, E. Miskinis

President's Message

Hello IDA-NNEA members and friends,

On January 1, 2023, Susan Hourihan becomes your new branch president. Susan is an experienced structured literacy practitioner and coach. Her passion for literacy, charisma, and wit will drive the branch even closer to the goal of structured literacy for all. 

Serving as president of an IDA branch has been exhilarating and a great honor. With a passionate board, you get to steer the branch on the road to fulfilling its mission. On December 14, 2020, we held our first READ for Parents with Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley on Dyslexia Basics. These bi-monthly webinars, based on the IDA Fact Sheets, have been a huge success. Parents, practitioners, administrators, and educators are learning and growing and joining us on this road to structured literacy for all. 

In June 2022 our branch officially changed its name from New Hampshire IDA to IDA Northern New England Alliance. With our new name, we hope to more effectively lead change efforts in Vermont and Maine where we have served, unbeknownst to their residents, for the past 18 years. We are also adding several new board members from Vermont and Maine. 

In June we hired our first part-time staff member to support our branch's many initiatives, including our annual conference on October 27 and 28. This past conference, with 13 sessions led by leaders in structured literacy, was a tremendous success – almost 1,000 attendees – including over 500 parents and school administrators who attended for free as our guests. We hope these 500 guests will join us as change agents. 

Our next READ for Parents, on December 14, features Brett Tingley, president of Parents for Reading Justice, which focuses on building parent dyslexia work groups. First we will watch the movie, Our Dyslexic Children, and then Brett will share tools for activating the parent groups, including trainings, workbooks, and other supports.

We are very excited to share screenings of three feature films, The Truth About Reading, The Right to Read, and Hopeville USA, in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont beginning in January. Stay tuned!

We are actively promoting our "Dyslexia 101 Roadshow" beginning in March. Our branch will present to schools, businesses, nonprofits, and libraries about dyslexia and the need for structured literacy for all students. Reach out to us if you are interested in hosting a roadshow in our tristate area.

During our conference, I had a brief exchange with longtime reading teachers trained in Reading Recovery and using Fountas & Pinnell, the curriculum provided by their districts. They lamented over the hundreds of children they taught to “read” by using predictable text, pictures, and context clues rather than focusing on the word. We wondered, were these children harmed? I say yes, they were. Daily I see parents suffering as they see their children suffer because they cannot read. The entire family is impacted. I hear stories of children, in all grades, who even want to die because learning to read using guess-and-check curricula and approaches, does not work for them. Science proves it does not work for any students because this is not how reading works. But children don’t know this. They internalize this failure as their own. They think they are stupid. These children, our children, think this because even the “special” education teacher can’t teach them to read. Over time, for many of these struggling readers, even their parents cannot convince them that they are not failures. We know fifty percent of children with specific learning disabilities in basic reading skills and/or reading fluency, also referred to as dyslexia or specific learning disorder (do we see a problem here …) also have co-morbid conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Daily reading failure, does cause harm to children and to their families. It does not have to be this way. 

Being taught to read is a right. The ability to read creates equity and social justice. Our work is clearly not done. I look forward to 2023 and serving as the Immediate Past President, guiding Susan and the board toward structured literacy for all. 

Some final words of advice. Call out harmful reading programs and demand change. Some states have banned such curricula. Sadly, we know many schools are still using programs that fail to meet educational expectations. EdReports and CURATE provide reviews of reading programs and found the following to not meet expectations:

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom K-5 (Heinemann)
Holt McDougal Literature 6-12 (HMH)
Journeys K-6 (HMH)
Reach for Reading K-6 (National Geographic/Cengage)
Reading Streets Common Core K-6 (Pearson)
Units of Study in Reading, Writing, and Phonics K-5 (Heinemann)
Wonders K-2, publication year 2017 (McGraw Hill)

Focus on what works – the solution – structured literacy. Keep your eye on the prize – structured literacy for all. 

Thank you for the honor of serving as president,

IDA-NNEA's Annual Fall Virtual Conference

Science of Reading & the Road to Educational Recovery:

The Urgent Need for Structured Literacy for All Students

From Susan Lambert setting the stage to our own Jennifer Cyr and colleagues Donna Hejtmanek, Sharon Dunn, and Dr. Severino of the Facebook page, Science of Reading — What I Should Have Learned in College, sharing how social media professional learning networks can aid professionals, we have learned so much! The IDA-NNEA Annual Conference, Science of Reading and The Road to Educational Recovery, was a huge success. Over 1000 attendees watched the webinars in the two-day event. One big takeaway from Brent Conway, Assistant Superintendent of Pentucket Regional School District (MA): “A bad system will beat a good teacher."

Still Time to View Recordings
Participants and attendees, you still have time to login to watch the webinars online. But it’s a limited time only; watch the webinars through November 28th. Professional development hours are available.
Student led Q & A with parents: As a follow-up to her session at the conference, on November 15th Hayden Miskinis, a high school sophomore who is an advocate for students with dyslexia, hosted a question and answer session on Zoom with parents from around the country. Parents asked questions ranging from testing and the value of accommodations to the social and emotional impact of being a student with dyslexia. The session lasted for an hour and families came away with information to guide them as they navigate the challenges of supporting and advocating for a dyselxic child.  
In December, read the second installment, Labeling is But One Important Step, about a struggling teenager who receives a diagnosis of dyslexia and finds new hope in learning to read. Myths and unfounded “treatments” for dyslexia are also discussed to set the record straight on what’s needed for becoming literate at any age. Visit:
READ for Parents
Hello parents! IDA-NNEA is happy to continue a program we began in December 2020 called READ for Parents. READ stands for Research, Education, and Advocacy on Dyslexia.

We host free 1.5-hour Zoom webinars for parents and educators every other month focusing on a topic from the IDA Dyslexia Fact Sheets.

If you're not familiar with the fact sheets, be sure to check them out; they are current, relevant, and full of great information.
In addition to our board member panelists, each session includes a guest speaker with deep knowledge of the topic. See below to register for our free December Zoom webinar.
December 14, 2022
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom
February 8, 2023
Registration link coming soon!

Elaine Miskinis

What happens to an IEP or a 504 in College?

This time of year has students thinking about the transition from high school to college. For students with dyslexia, this often includes discussions about how accommodations might be provided at the college level. Perhaps the most common misconception about this transition involves IEPs and 504s in college.  

When students enter high school, it is not uncommon for them to be told that they need to move from an IEP to a 504 because, “A 504 follows you to college but an IEP doesn’t.” This is a common misconception that comes up time and time again. 

(For more information about the difference between IEPs and 504 plans, refer to IEPs: IEP vs 504, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? | The Wrightslaw Way)

Do I need to move from an IEP to a 504 before transitioning to college?

The reality is that, upon graduation from high school, your rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), guaranteeing a ”free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment” ends, which means that an IEP will not follow you to college. However, contrary to popular belief, a 504 will not follow you either. 

This is where it gets a little confusing. Postsecondary schools are subject to Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because of this, some people assume that if a 504 plan is put in place in high school, the plan, and all of the specific accommodations, will follow the student to college. This is not the case.  

Section 504 says that a student cannot be discriminated against because of a disability, but the law does not require colleges or universities to offer the same level of academic support that may have been offered in high school. 

This does not mean that students cannot receive accommodations once they leave high school. But, at the college level, the onus shifts from the school to the student in terms of advocacy. In other words, a student has to understand how to navigate the process at their college or university. The accommodations granted by a specific college can be subjective and unique to that school. For example, one college might provide numerous accommodations ranging from exemption from foreign language requirements to being provided class notes, whereas another college might not grant any accommodations without substantial documentation, and even then the accommodations may be minimal. So, understanding the level of support at a prospective college and then being able to advocate successfully are crucial. 

If I know that I will require accommodations to be successful at the college level, what should I do? 

Be aware that only the student can advocate for services. Parents and other parties are not allowed to speak on behalf of students.

Before enrolling, it’s a good idea to find out how open the college/university is to accommodations to minimize any potential frustration and to understand how their process works. You can call the Student Accessibility Department and ask questions or check the school’s website (or both). Do not assume that because you were granted specific accommodations in high school that you will automatically get the same accommodations at the college level. Understanding the policies in place at a prospective school is key. If the college or university seems unwilling to grant accommodations, it’s best to know that early in the application process.   

Contact the college’s Student Accessibility Department to find out what documentation is required and what steps need to be taken in order to receive services. (This information can be found on the school’s website by searching “Student Accessibility Department” or by calling the department directly.) The required documentation will vary from school to school. Some colleges/universities will accept a recent IEP or 504 as evidence of a learning disability, but others will require updated testing and/or documentation in a neuropsychological evaluation. Many colleges require recent test results (within the past three years), so if it’s possible to have testing done by the high school before graduation, it may save both time and money in the end.

Provide all necessary documentation and arrange any necessary meetings according to the college's requirements so that any accommodations can be put in place as close to the start of the semester as possible. Be aware that it will be vital to advocate for yourself. Some colleges have very specific guidelines in place while others are more flexible. Be aware that the people who determine eligibility may have little or no understanding of dyslexia so it’s a good idea to bring support documents that explain the specific impact of dyslexia in order to support any accommodations that you will be requesting.   

Double check with the college to find out when the accommodations need to be reviewed and renewed; some schools require review and renewal each semester while others will stay in place for the duration of enrollment.  

Further Reading:

The article below has links to many valuable resources for students who will need to access accommodations at the college level.  



serving the dyslexic community
in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont
Save the Date - Stay Tuned for Details!
February 18-March 4, 2023 

Project Read Framing Your Thoughts
February 18-March 4, 2023
Free for IDA-NNEA Branch members 
$65 for non-members (including members of other IDA branches)
*cost of materials not included - materials purchase required
$204.60 includes shipping

The Framing your Thoughts Sentence Structure training materials include:
  • Sentence Structure Guide
  • Sentence Structure Online Video Subscription (supplemental videos – these are in addition to the webinar/training link)
  • Sentence Structure Symbol Card Pack
  • Active Participation Packet for Sentence Structure
The cost for that bundled set of materials is $186, plus $18.60 (10%) shipping/handling, plus sales tax (if applicable).

Call 1-800-450-0343 to place your order for the Sentence Structure webinar being offered through the IDA-NNEA. The materials are not available on the website. Please register and order no later than 2/10/23 to ensure timely receipt of materials.

Job Corner

  Are you an individual with dyslexia,
an educator, or just want to learn more about teaching Structured Literacy
and addressing reading disabilities?

Become a member of IDA today!  

Membership benefits vary
according to membership level,
Are you a service provider? 
Become a member at the professional level and have your name/business included in IDA-NNEA provider list. 

IDA-NNEA's Board of Directors consists of up to 15 individuals who serve on a volunteer basis for 2- or 3-year terms. Many previous Board Directors now serve on our Advisory Board providing guidance and assistance.

2022 Board Officers:

President: Brenda Peters, Londonderry, NH
Vice President: Susan Hourihan, South Berwick, ME
Treasurer: Karyn Hubbard, Acton, ME
Secretary: Jennifer Cyr, Sanford, ME

2022 Members at Large:

Dorinne Dorfman, Waterbury Center, VT
Nancy Kring-Burns, Nashua, NH
Brittany Lovejoy, Enosburg, VT
Elaine Miskinis, Epping, NH
Cheryl Nyverth, ME
Andrea Pollock, Merrimack, NH
Kristine Reilly, Nashua, NH
Heidi Zollman, Strafford, NH

Advisory Board:
Anne Ehret, Arlington, VT
Beth McClure, Canterbury, NH
Caryl Patten, Feeding Hills, MA
Michael Patten, Feeding Hills, MA
Melissa Farrall, St. Albans, VT
Claudia Golda-Dominguez, Hudson, NH
Renee LeCain, Sandown, NH
Susan Morbey, Amherst, NH
Shannon Dixon-Yandow, Essex Junction, VT
Michelle Stinson, Hanover, NH
Sue Lurgio, Merrimack, NH
Dale Vincent, Concord, NH

P.O. Box 1934
Rochester, NH 03866
(603) 229-7355 (to leave a message)