As a young boy growing up in Philadelphia, I surely had a nice group of friends, but Dick and Jane were not among them. The idyllic stars of the early 50’s New Basic Readers series for beginning readers were, in fact, my nemeses! The truth was, I couldn’t learn to read and struggled miserably to decode the images on each page. My mother bought a copy of the basal reader and sat with me night after night while I memorized the words in what we predicted would be the next day’s classroom portion. But if “Dick didn’t run,” or “Jane didn’t see Spot,” I was in big trouble! Off to the nurse I’d go with a make-believe ailment created to avoid the shame and embarrassment I would feel if called upon.
It wasn’t until the 5th grade that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. A tutor trained in the tenets of Orton-Gillingham (early pioneers in the field of dyslexia) taught me strategies using methods that were proving to be successful for struggling readers. Just as important, he gave me self-confidence and the belief that I really could learn to read. My childhood experience inspired me to choose education, with a focus on reading and other learning disabilities, as a career path. I went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Temple University, earning a degree in Elementary Education and then a Masters Degree in Special Education and Administration. I have never let dyslexia define or limit who I am, but creating paths for others like me became my life’s mission.
I am privileged to head Jemicy School, where we educate talented and bright students with dyslexia or other related language-based learning differences by addressing both their intellectual strengths and their learning needs. We utilize creative, multisensory, and research-based programs and techniques to develop reading, writing, spelling, and organization skills; promote a love of learning, and prepare students for the intellectual and social challenges of college and life.
Our faculty is trained in teaching methods approved by the International Dyslexia Association. Through the use and integration of these teaching techniques, Jemicy teachers are able to tailor instruction to the learning needs of each student. In addition, technology enhances each student’s native problem-solving capability. Jemicy students learn to understand and appreciate their unique learning style and become effective self-advocates.
Each year, Jemicy enrolls a number of new students based on their learning styles, academic needs, interests and abilities. We seek bright, engaged, hard-working students who demonstrate strong innate comprehension, yet struggle with language mechanics. We look for students who will benefit from our programs and contribute to the life of the school.
More About Ben
Ben Shifrin is currently serving his twelfth year as head of Jemicy School. A former school head in California and current VP of the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association, as well as an honored member of its Hall of Fame, Ben provides a wealth of experience and expertise to Jemicy School, where he interacts with students daily. Additionally, he serves on the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas School’s Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children regarding the identification and nurturing of children with both learning challenges and giftedness. Ben speaks nationally on the collaboration between neuroscience and education, as well as on other topics relevant to learning differences. Ben is a summa cum laude graduate of Temple University, earning an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and then a master’s degree in Special Education and Administration. Dyslexic himself, Ben brings a uniquely sensitive approach to working with Jemicy students and lives up to his commitment that students’ needs come before all else.