Welcome to BVKID’s lending library. Following the vision of the late Trudy Bortz, BVKID is proud to lend Barton materials for BVSD parents to use with their children. Each level kit contains training DVDs, tiles, and other materials for that level.
Complete this form if you would like to apply for the Barton reading program.
For more information or questions about the Barton lending library–Trudy’s Project, please contact Wendi Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barton Lending Library: Trudy’s Project
The story about an amazing women who will forever change the lives of kids who struggle with dyslexia.
Sponsored by BVKID
After I gave birth to my first child, Carter, and had the opportunity to really look at him for the first time after all of the mandatory bathing, poking and prodding were done. I thought to myself, here is this perfect little soul; unscathed by life’s experiences. Fear overwhelmed me because I knew at some point life would level him and his heart would break. I wanted to scoop him up and protect him forever, never let him leave my arms. I knew at some point that Carter would face adversity; I just had no idea that he would be completely broken at the age of 7.
Sometimes superheroes don’t wear capes but everybody needs a hero. We certainly did the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. Carter had struggled to learn to read in kindergarten and in 1st grade. What we thought was lack of motivation, a bad attitude, and general laziness took a toll on our family. The bright, charismatic boy that we dropped off at kindergarten on his 6th birthday turned into a sad, uncooperative, moody 7-year old. I began to expect frequent phone calls from the health room due to mystery ailments. There was a time when the doctor was convinced Carter was suffering from appendicitis after severe stomach pain and vomiting over a period of time. When nothing was found, the doctor determined Carter was under too much stress. Our family was in a full-blown crisis and we didn’t know what to do.
In stepped our hero. I had worked with Trudy the year before when she was assigned as a half-time 1st-grade teacher to support the four overflowing 1st grade classrooms. Trudy lit up a room! Kids loved her and everybody wanted to be in Ms.Trudy’s group! She inspired kids to read and had a way of establishing relationships by knowing exactly what each child needed. When that year ended, there wasn’t a part time position available for Trudy and so she retired. All the while, she had been battling ovarian cancer for many years and needed the flexibility in her work for treatment and to heal.
During that Summer of 2014 after two years of reading instruction that didn’t work for Carter, we turned to Trudy. She was trying out a new program for dyslexic students called Barton Reading and Spelling. I still wasn’t convinced that Carter had dyslexia yet I was increasingly frustrated with his bad attitude and lack of motivation. He refused to read to me at all. I had spent most of my 17-year career in 1st grade. If anyone could teach him to read I should have been able to. “Why won’t he read Trudy?!” I asked. She responded, “Wendi, maybe it’s not because he won’t, but because he can’t.” She agreed to tutor Carter while we waited to get him tested for dyslexia at Children’s Hospital.
During those first few sessions, something shifted in Carter. He agreed to do for Trudy what he would never to do for my husband or me. Trudy had pizazz! Her interactions with Carter were magical. He wanted so much to please Ms.Trudy.
We found out later that summer that Carter had profound dyslexia. There were many areas of the testing where he scored below the 1st percentile. He had a lot of progress to make! Carter continued to see Ms. Trudy that summer and when he started 2nd grade she made arrangements to volunteer in his classroom and work through the Barton reading program with him. By the end of 2nd grade, he was through the first 3 levels but school was still hard. We still got those health room phone calls. He still didn’t want to read with us.
Once you have a broken child it’s hard to pick up the pieces and put him back together again. The first two years after his dyslexia identification I just wanted my child back. It was a slow process. Through all of the tears, meltdowns, and feelings of inadequacy, Trudy was his rock. The summer between 2nd and 3rd grade Carter would ride his bike through the neighborhood to Trudy’s house. Carter has always felt most alive and fulfilled when riding his bike, and his daily rides to Trudy’s house centered him. She was always waiting with a hug and some kind of sweet treat. She had patience and always believed in him.
Trudy continued to battle cancer which she handled with courage and grace. Despite going through chemotherapy and being weak, Trudy volunteered again to support Carter and another child in 3rd grade. The school didn’t offer interventions for dyslexia so the arrangement worked out beautifully. At the end of 3rd grade, the school district cited a policy not allowing a volunteer to deliver an intervention. Trudy would not be welcome to volunteer the following year. Both Carter and Trudy were devastated. My husband and I were angry and wondered why something working so well that the school district couldn’t provide, could be ripped away with no consideration for the well-being of a 9-year old child and his generous tutor.
Luckily, Carter continued to receive Barton instruction in 4th and 5th grade from a teacher in his school. His school and BVSD had finally realized how essential structured literacy interventions for dyslexic students were! His relationship with Trudy remained strong and he continued to get on his bike and ride to her house for tutoring. She taught him how to use accommodations. He read books to her that he would never read to us. He was beginning to see himself as a student and more importantly as a reader. Sometime in 4th grade, we began to see glimpses of that kid we dropped off for kindergarten as a 6-year old. He laughed more, he engaged with his friends again, and he was less serious. I’m not sure we ever would have seen that kid again if it had not been for Trudy and her superhero magic. She believed in Carter so that he could believe in himself, all while Trudy continued to battle cancer.
On Valentine’s Day of last year, Trudy entered hospice. Her battle with cancer was nearing its end. It’s hard to tell a child that sometimes even superheroes die. She fought hard for 11 years. A few weeks before she passed away I got a text from Trudy. She was tying up loose ends and wanted her Barton materials put to good use. I told her I would find a special spot for them.
She passed away in April 2018 and in the weeks following, amidst trying to manage my children’s grief (Carter’s brother Walker tutored with Trudy right up until she entered hospice) and processing my own (Trudy generously volunteered in my kindergarten classroom and I came to rely on her expertise), the idea came to me. I didn’t need Trudy’s Barton materials as much as others did in the community. There were so many kids in the community who couldn’t afford a tutor and who weren’t getting the proper interventions at their school. The idea of Trudy’s project came alive. With BVKid and grant support, we would create a Barton lending library for BVSD parents to use with their children. Trudy wanted to help as many struggling readers as she could. I can’t help but think that there’s a little bit of Trudy in each box; open it up and get a dose of Trudy’s love and magic.
As for Carter… he finished 8 levels of Barton and still resists any tutoring that I want to provide for him but he’s holding his own in 6th grade! Although not quite at grade level on i-Ready, he scored at a level 5 and in the 42nd percentile, so much better than below the 1st percentile just before 2nd grade. Thanks to all of the work in assistive technology that Trudy facilitated, he made the A/B honor roll first semester! He’s bright, charismatic, a little surly and full of shenanigans thanks to our superhero Trudy!
For more information on BVKid’s Barton lending library–Trudy’s Project, please contact Wendi Kirkpatrick at email@example.com.