Table of Contents

President's Letter

Susan Hourihan, CALP

Hello and Happy Winter,

Whether you are out skiing, hiking, snowboarding or cuddling up inside with a good book, I hope you are enjoying this winter weather! Last year seemed to fly by quickly with many activities to keep IDA-NNEA busy, and 2024 is off to a great start. We have some new board members and have done a bit of restructuring. The fun has begun!

There are many initiatives happening across the nation and it feels like the tide is turning on the way children are taught to read successfully. 

Close to home, Vermont currently has seven bills up for proposal as of January 2024. These bills all pertain to literacy and improving reading instruction across the state. 

Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, and her administration, just announced ten million dollars in literacy grants for the development, expansion, and enhancement of evidence-based core literacy instruction and targeted interventions for Maine students. 

As of September, 2023 New Hampshire leaders passed an updated bill requiring dyslexia screening for all students in grades K-3 several times annually and intervention plans for those at risk for dyslexia. This is all very encouraging news for our Northeast region. You can learn more about all of these initiatives by going to the state websites. We plan to spread awareness to keep this momentum moving in the right direction for our students and our future.

On December 7, New Hampshire ALTA and IDA-NNEA co-hosted the screening of Blame It On Gutenberg, with a robust panel discussion following the film. This film and others addressing effective literacy help educate families, teachers, and community members of this nation-wide problem, and present some encouraging ways to change the trajectory.

At IDA-NNEA we continue to offer READ for Parents webinars the second Wednesday every other month. These 90-minute webinars are provided at no charge to viewers, and answer questions about dyslexia and associated issues based on the IDA Fact Sheets which can be found at Fact Sheets - International Dyslexia Association. We were honored to have Peggy Price present in February about Neuromyths. Our April 10th event is a presentation of the Miskinis family – Elaine, Hayden, and Kaya – sharing personal experiences about accommodations for children with dyslexia. This is sure to be extremely informative. I hope you can tune in to watch our READ for Parents webinars live or view the recording from our website at your leisure.

A new webinar series titled READ for Professionals will be offered in a few months' time. This series will be patterned after READ for Parents but will be targeted to professionals in the field. We will invite guest speakers and offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs). You will also be seeing information about upcoming conferences and once again will have an opportunity to attend a one-day training session in Wilson Reading Systems. Some lucky members will be able to attend for free; see the announcement at the end of this newsletter.

If you have ideas or suggestions about IDA-NNEA, or if you want to volunteer to help us, please feel free to reach out to me anytime at I would truly love to hear from you.


Susan Hourihan, CALT

President, IDA-NNEA

From Around the Region...

But Will Students Learn to Read

A Review of Vermont Literacy Bills Introduced in January 2024

By Brittany Lovejoy, IDA-NNEA Board Member

Will students learn to read? 

That is the question to keep in mind when reviewing the 7 bills introduced in the Vermont Legislature in January 2024, the first month of the legislative season. Naturally the International Dyslexia Association - Northern New England Alliance is deeply vested in student reading outcomes. Since its founding, our organization has supported research and disseminated effective practices to teach all children phonological awareness, alphabetics, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Today we know that 95% of people can learn to read with scientifically-based instruction that is direct, targeted, sequential, and cumulative. One-third of children learn to read regardless of the approach, but for the majority of students, education is the determining factor in developing the brain structures required to read. Which law passed by the session’s end in May will matter for years to come. 


Educational policy stretches back generations. In 2021, some Vermonters pressed lawmakers to adopt a dyslexia screening bill, which was roundly defeated...

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Voices in Reading Research

Interview with Heidi Zollman, Curriculum Director, Rochester School Department in Rochester, NH

In this new feature, IDA-NNEA Board Member Dorinne Dorfman, Ed. S., Ed. D., Orton-Gillingham Associate Level, interviews reading researchers and other professionals devoted to all people learning to read well.

Heidi Zollman, CAGS, M.Ed., is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the American College of Education. She serves as the Curriculum Director in Rochester, N.H., and is a certified LETRS, DIBELS, and SRSD trainer. Heidi consults with school districts nationwide, specializing in literacy, data teams, and the change process. In her commitment to advancing literacy education, Heidi also serves on the IDA-NNEA Board of Directors and holds the role of Co-President of The Reading League NH.


DD: What initially led to your interest in literacy?

HZ: When I began in 1994 as a Kindergarten teacher in Michigan, I realized that not all of my students were mastering the skills of effective reading. This prompted a critical introspection. My college education, despite its merits, left a conspicuous gap in my understanding of how to teach children to read, underscoring the urgent need for a paradigm shift in my approach. My classroom was engaging. I knew how to create great lessons, but when it came to teaching reading, I didn’t know what I was doing. In college, I majored in math and science – that was my thing. But when my kids couldn’t read, they couldn’t complete their math assignments. Everything kind of stalled there without reading. This came to me in the very first year. How was I supposed to teach these kids how to read? I did great thematic units, but the issue was that they couldn’t read any of the text I tried to teach them.

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What’s All the Talk about MTSS in Kansas?

By Dorinne Dorfman, IDA-NNEA Board Member

Kansas? Yes, Kansas! Kansas is becoming a national leader in Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). The gains in literacy and other areas attained by Kansas MTSS warrant a closer look at what has contributed to its success. What is Kansas MTSS?

Kansas's MTSS is a set of evidence-based practices implemented to meet the needs of ALL learners. It builds a system of prevention, early intervention, and supports to ensure that all students are learning from the instruction.

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College Corner

Self-Advocacy and Teens 

By Elaine Miskinis, IDA-NNEA Member Board 

As children, dyslexic learners often rely on caregivers to act as advocates as they navigate the challenges of the school system. Attending a special-education Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or 504 meeting, agreeing upon goals, services, and accommodations, and communicating with teachers can feel overwhelming. And, while many caregivers settle into the role of advocate for the long haul through the school system, it is necessary that older students develop self-advocacy skills. These are skills students can put to use in high school and college.

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Changing Course: Large Scale Implementation of the Science of Reading - A School Board Member’s Insights

By Dr. Brenda Warren

Brenda Warren, M.D./Ph.D., was a practicing pediatrician for seven years before becoming a stay-at-home mother to three boys, one of whom has dyslexia. As a school board member from 2004 to 2022, she became a passionate learner about scientifically based reading research and structured literacy which led to earning a Ph.D. in Education Leadership in 2018. Her dissertation examined barriers preventing scientifically-based reading research from impacting classroom instruction. Brenda currently serves as president of The Reading League - Vermont Chapter and as a board member of the IDA-Northern New England Alliance.

Many thanks to The Reading League for permitting the republication of this article.

Low literacy profoundly impacts the health and well-being of children and the adults they will become. It was that understanding that motivated me as a new school board member in 2004 to do whatever I could to improve how we taught reading in our district. What surprised me most was that there did not seem to be a sense of urgency concerning our unacceptable reading data. As a pediatrician, I was accustomed to the sense of urgency one experiences in an emergency room when a patient with a dire situation rolls in. Everyone has a critical role to play and works urgently, systematically, and calmly to diagnose the condition and care for the patient. Why can’t we do that with reading difficulties?

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New Voices...

In this feature, IDA-NNEA Board Member Dorinne Dorfman, Ed. S., Ed. D., Orton-Gillingham Associate Level, interviews a young adult as well as adults working on their behalf. Sharing such stories offers inspiration and hope to the wider community as well as empowers the interviewees in the journey to address challenges and achieve goals.

Interview with Rosalee Dorfman Mohajer

Rosalee Dorfman Mohajer lives in London, UK and serves as a barrister at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square. When not at work, Rosalee volunteers as a Non-Executive Director of Dosh, a company which provides financial advocacy for people with learning difficulties. Rosalee speaks German and Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys surfing and learning to play bass guitar.

Dorinne Dorfman: How did you learn about dyslexia?

Rosalee Dorfman Mohajer: First I had inklings that I had dyslexia in high school. I noticed that it was taking much longer to read, and that I got more nervous speaking out loud than others did. One time a classmate told me that I sounded like I was dyslexic when he heard me read. He had dyslexia himself. I brushed it aside and didn’t do anything about it until I was in university. I found that I didn’t have enough time to complete exams, so I wanted to check this out. Luckily the University of Leeds provided the assessment. This was very long, involving reading, writing, and speaking and asking about other aspects in life. The report stated that I had mild dyslexia. That meant I would have longer time for exams, and it would be easier to get extensions on assignments. There would be more leniency for me compared to other students.

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NH & VT State Leadership Provides Professional Learning for Teachers

During the past three years, both the New Hampshire and Vermont Legislatures have allocated funding for educator training in structured literacy, allowing thousands to participate at no direct cost to them or their school districts, and building a common foundation of knowledge statewide. 

New Hampshire

Some 3,000 New Hampshire teachers and principals have participated in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training, thanks to the New Hampshire Legislature. The three PD opportunities include LETRS for Early Childhood Educators (18 weeks), LETRS for Elementary Educators (18 months), and LETRS for Administrators (18 weeks). New Hampshire is one of 14 states that have made free LETRS training available to teachers.

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The VT Dept. of Libraries in Barre is located in the original Spaulding High School building, an architectural masterpiece.

Free Audio Equipment and Other Supports for Children and Adults with a Reading Disability

By Dorinne Dorfman and Karen Gravlin, Library Consultant for Inclusive Services, Director, ABLE Library, Vermont Department of Libraries 

The Vermont Department of Libraries ABLE Library offers two unique resources to children and adults who have a reading disability. In years past, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled of the Library of Congress has not always included serving those with reading disabilities. The National Library Service and Vermont’s ABLE Library has expanded access to print and provide support. 

the Portable Playback Machine, Wonderbook, and reading resource library

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Orton Oaks are current IDA-NNEA members who have been members of IDA for a minimum of 25 years. This special membership status is provided to show IDA's appreciation and gratitude for their support for the mission of IDA. The following individuals are members of the IDA-NNEA Branch from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Orton Oaks: Minimum of 25 years of membership

Patricia Sweeney

Joan Shaughnessey

Marcella Fulmer

Michael Gentile

Cheryl Annal

Donna Tamaroff

Candice Bray

Patricia Martz

Marilyn Varricchio

Beth McClure

Landmark College

Susan Lurgio

The Greenwood School

Melissa Farrall

Dorothy Leech

Ann Turner

Blanche Podhajski

Katharine Bennett

Caroline Janover

Janna Osman

Anne Ehret

Ann Vanneman

Elizabeth Dewey

Shirley Bate

Jody Pellatt

Jan Ellis-Clements

Shannon Dixon-Yandow

Cheri McManus

See All Members of 10+ Years

READ stands for Research, Education, and Advocacy on Dyslexia. READ for Parents programs focus on the needs of parents, educators, and other caregivers. We host free 60-90 minutes virtual webinars every other month focusing on a topic from the IDA Dyslexia Fact Sheets.

Upcoming READ for Parents

  • April 10, 2024 Accommodations at the Secondary Level with special guest and board member Elaine Miskinis
  • June 12, 2024 Special Education & Advocacy with Maine Parent Federation

Fundations® Conference

Early Bird Registration Is Now Open for 2024!

Enhance your foundational literacy and Fundations® knowledge at this special event, open to all. Space is limited for our in-person Fundations Conference in Boston, MA, so don’t delay securing your spot at a discounted price! Register before February 29, 2024, to enjoy early bird savings of $100.


Come Join Your Colleagues

Come Join your colleagues, professionals, and those interested in literacy. Are you a service provider or organization? Special Rates are available.

Join IDA



IDA-NNEA's Board of Directors consists of up to 17 individuals who serve on a volunteer basis for 2- or 3-year terms. Many previous board members now serve on our Advisory Board providing guidance and assistance. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, contact our president, Susan Hourihan.

Board Officers:

President: Susan Hourihan, ME

Vice President: Kristine Reilly, NH

Treasurer: Holly Weiss, VT

Secretary: Nancy Kring-Burns, NH

2024 Members at Large:

Rachel Brown-Chidsey, ME

Jen Cyr, ME

Marcia Davis, VT

Dorinne Dorfman, VT

Karyn Hubbard, ME

Brittany Lovejoy, VT

Elaine Miskinis, NH

Andrea Pollock, NH

Brenda Warren, VT

Heidi Zollman, NH

Advisory Board:

Jayne Beaton, NH

Bebe Casey, NH

Aileen Cormier, NH

Anne Eaton, NH

Anne Ehret, VT

Beth McClure, NH

Caryl Patten, MA

Michael Patten, MA

Brenda Peters, NH

Melissa Farrall, VT

Claudia Golda-Dominguez, NH

Renee LeCain, Sandown, NH

Susan Morbey, NH

Shannon Dixon-Yandow, VT

Michelle Stinson, NH

Dale Vincent, NH

Jacqui Kelleher, VT

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