Luke Geier Reporter
The Center for Reading, which is located in Whitesitt Hall room 209, has recently been gaining national attention for its efforts and success in serving children and individuals who struggle with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. First introduced in 1996, the center started out small, and over the years has become a national model for reading and writing institutions.
“At the time we knew the need was great, and we just continued to work at the things we were good at doing. The administrative assistant for the Department of Psychology and Counseling always tells me, ‘I remember what you told me you were going to 30 years ago and now you’re doing it!’” said Executive Director Dr. David Hurford.
In addition to the national attention the institution has been receiving, by 2026 The Center for Reading has plans to expand its operation and will be a part of the Gorilla Rising project in downtown Pittsburg. This is a massive step forward for the center and will allow even more people who struggle with reading to access the proper help they need.
“It’s amazing to me because now The Center for Reading will be a permanent addition to the university, and that means an enormous amount to me,” said Hurford.
The issue of children showing signs of reading problems from an early age is nothing new, but it wasn’t until recently that people started to really notice the problem. Despite the recent spike in these concerns, The Center for Reading has been paving the way for change for years.
“I think the message is starting to become more clear too. With Covid, and things moving online, parents were able to see the methods being taught, and that started to raise alarm bells,” said Director Michaela Ozier.
Part of this problem also lies in the way reading is being taught in the lower levels of education such as Kindergarten and 1st grade. One main thing that The Center of Reading focuses on is spreading awareness about the science of reading, and how understanding this is essential for change. Thankfully, more and more schools are beginning to realize this.
“We’re not the only ones doing this work, but again there’s still not enough, and we’re really trying to make some progress in terms of helping people understand the science of reading so they can implement the techniques in elementary school so that they have the knowledge and the ability to help kids in Kindergarten and 1st grade,” said Hurford.
Implementing these techniques and teaching them is the first step in creating a world where children can grow up to be more confident readers and writers.
“Every single child that goes to kindergarten, if you ask them what they want to learn they’ll tell you, ‘I want to learn how to read and write.’ They are highly motivated to do that, so when they get to kindergarten and find themselves not being able to do that, then it causes them a lot of stress and anxiety, and they feel bad about themselves and it gets worse as they get older,” said Hurford.
Everyone should be able to have the necessary tools to be able to read at their highest potential, and it’s this principle that has allowed The Center of Reading to achieve what they have.
“Reading is a fundamental human right,” said Ozier.