As a freshman Elissa Arndt ’00 (pictured, right) decided to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology or education since Gordon didn’t have a degree in speech-language pathology. But halfway through her freshman year she was invited to apply to the Pike Scholar program, which allows exceptional students to design a unique, rigorous academic program not available under existing Gordon majors or minors.
Accepted as a Pike Scholar, Elissa designed an academic program around communication disorders, allowing her to pursue her career of choice. “I was able to ‘build’ my major to contain all the important aspects of speech-language pathology as well as take additional enriching courses. I took courses at nearby colleges and combined them with courses in education, anatomy and physiology, and internship experiences in various settings in which a speech-language pathologist might work.”
After graduating, Elissa went to Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston graduate school to study speech-language pathology. The program certified her as both a speech-language pathologist and a reading specialist. After that she worked in elementary schools and at North Shore Children’s Hospital on Boston’s North Shore. She was also selected to be a trainer during the initial implementation of a statewide grant program offered by the Massachusetts Department of Education in which teachers were given professional development in reading instruction to improve their students’ reading abilities.
In April of 2005 Elissa attended a professional development conference with Dr. Joseph Torgesen as the speaker. Following conversation with him, Dr. Torgesen invited her to work at the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR)—a premiere research facility in reading for the country—where he served as director until his recent retirement. Elissa accepted the offer and continues at the Center full-time while working on her Ph.D. at Florida State University (FSU).
FCRR serves as an internationally known resource of reading research and instruction for educators, greatly impacting reading policy in the country—now under the directorship of Dr. Barbara R. Foorman. As part of Elissa’s work at FCRR, she reviewed reading curricula and created reports to help teachers, principals and district personnel in choosing materials for effective instruction. Elissa presents research at local and national conferences and provides professional development on reading instruction and intervention to schools and districts in Florida. She is also involved with FCRR’s development of a new reading assessment tool to assist teachers in monitoring progress of students K–12.
Elissa is a doctoral candidate in the Reading and Language Arts Program in the College of Education at FSU with dissertation research in the area of spelling development. She also serves as an adjunct in Gordon’s graduate education reading program, flying to the North Shore one weekend a month during semesters to teach courses. She says, “I enjoy working with individuals interested in learning about current research on reading acquisition and instruction so they can meet the reading needs of students they teach.”
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