Academic Learning Solutions is operated solely by Susan Farmer, a licensed teacher in the state of Oregon, and formerly in the state of Tennessee. Susan taught kindergarten four years in both public and Christian schools, and grades 1- 6 writing and music for two years. She has considerable experience as a substitute teacher in grades K through 4 in the public schools of Nashville, Tennessee , and in grades K-12 in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She has also extensively substituted in special education preschool classes of children with developmental delays, severe autism, and behavioral needs. She has home schooled her own children and the children of 3 other families. The 2012-2013 school year was her 18th and final year of home school!
Susan has three daughters, born in 1987, 1991, and 1995. Her oldest made Susan a grandmother in 2007, then again in 2008 and 2010. Her middle daughter received her nursing license in 2013. She spent 6 months in New Zealand and Vietnam with Youth With a Mission, then settled in Portland where she now works as a nurse. Susan's youngest daughter was home schooled through high school, received her GED in September of 2014, has a full-time job, and is “mom” to a Bichon Frise dog who joined the family on Christmas night, 2008. "Charlie" is now boss of the home!
In 1977, Susan graduated from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the nation's most distinguished teacher-training institutions. It is also one of the nation's first colleges to offer a specialty degree focus in Susan's focus area of “early childhood” preK – 3rd grades. Peabody has since merged with Vanderbilt University (1979), and continues to be a leading government research center, particularly in the fields of reading disabilities and mental retardation.
After moving to Oregon in 1981, Susan later took continuing-education courses in reading and math instruction. In 2006 she began graduate-level training in special education to focus on learning disabilities. Coursework has included reading and math instruction, content areas (science/social studies), dyslexia diagnosis and remediation, and administration of special education academic assessments.
Susan has experienced first-hand the parental frustration of feeling helpless and hopeless. In spite of her teaching degree, she was not able to teach her youngest daughter how to read. After two years of heartache, in 2003 she began a pursuit to learn how to reach her child’s needs. Late that year, Susan discovered that her daughter had nearly all of the major signs of dyslexia. Since then, her passion has been to learn the characteristics, causes, diagnosis, and remediation of dyslexia so she could help not only her own daughter, but also other parents and children.
Susan wants to prevent other children from experiencing years of frustration with little progress. The school's special education teacher insisted that “whole language” was the best way to teach reading, in spite of Susan’s attempts to show them the scientific research which proves otherwise. She is painfully aware that if her daughter had gotten the proper intervention when diagnosed at age 8, her daughter would have been spared years of struggling to learn.
She respectfully declares that her daughter had THE MOST caring, dedicated, and nurturing 2nd grade special education teacher that a parent could ever want. Susan demonstrates this teacher's efforts by acknowledging that if a child could learn solely on such qualities, her daughter would have excelled at least 3 grade levels in that year alone. Dedication, love, and nurturing are simply inadequate -- they must be combined with an effective approach for dyslexia.
Susan has now learned what types of instruction will and will not work for children with dyslexia, to get them to grade-level and keep them there. She also knows how to identify children at risk as early as preschool and kindergarten. When children begin appropriate early intervention, they can avoid the emotional trauma of years of frustration, and their academic struggles will be greatly reduced. The longer a child goes without intervention, the harder it is to catch up. As Susan home schooled her dyslexic daughter, the race against time was an ever-present force of motivation.