It was my first day with my group of Tier III 2nd-graders, and they were ready to go around the room and introduce themselves. It was going fine until one student said something surprising.

“I’m Jacob, and I can’t read.”

It was odd. I learned later that Jacob was a competitive gymnast and a smart kid, but he chose to identify himself as someone who couldn’t read well. I told him that I specialize in reading and that I’d help him fix that.

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Pinpointing the problem

It wasn’t long before I recognized that Jacob had the telltale characteristics of someone who has dyslexia. This 2nd-grader had an impressive vocabulary, but he was having trouble decoding the simplest words. It didn’t make sense. I talked to his mom about it, and she told me that Jacob’s uncle has dyslexia. Because dyslexia is hereditary, Jacob’s parents decided to go to the doctor for a formal assessment. The dyslexia diagnosis came back positive.

About the Author:

Hollen Carpenter is a reading intervention specialist at Fallston Elementary School in North Carolina. She can be reached at