DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Donna Independent School District is expanding its program serving students with dyslexia. Last month, the district received a half a million-dollar grant from the Texas Education Agency. The district will use the money to hire more teachers and strategists who will focus on students suffering from the disorder.

As of now, reading language arts and special education teachers have been taking on double the workload to help the district’s dyslexia program using the multisensory teaching approach (MTA). Special Education teacher at   J.P. LeNoir Elementary, Erica Garcia says she has been doing double the work for years.

“Trying to implement a program such as MTA that requires at least 45 minutes of every school day has been difficult,” said Garcia. 

Adding to the stress Garcia has seven students who are part of the program including her 18 special education students.

“I’ve given up going to conferences a lot of times during this school year, we will shorten our lunch many times, making our schedule has to be rigorous to meet the needs,” said Garcia. 

Next year, Garcia won’t have to make those sacrifices. The district academic director Dr. Diana Villanueva says they are using close to a  half a million-dollar grant from the Texas Education Agency to hire teachers and strategists solely for their dyslexia program.

“It’s really going to give us added personnel and people that can really help us expedite the identification of struggling readers,” said Dr. Villanueva. 

She says the covid-19 pandemic set many students reading levels back and this grant would help 50-percent of students with dyslexia and identify more.

“It’s really going to help implement the program with fidelity and really come up with different strategies, interventions, and innovative ways to help our struggling readers 100% present,” said Dr. Villanueva. 

Dr. Villanueva says the new staff for the program will come abroad this summer.