4-H program supports youth with learning disabilities
April 3, 2014
Nigel Gannon, 4-H's State Healthy Living Program Specialist, recently co-presented Teaching Public Speaking Skills to Dyslexic Learners at the 41st Annual Everyone Reading Conference at New York University. The session described a successful and replicable model for schools to use in preparing students for formal and informal public speaking challenges. His co-presenters were John Simms, Reconstructive Language Teacher, and Kathleen N. Rose, Reconstructive Language Department Chair, of The Gow School. Kathy is a former 4-H volunteer, which led her to reach out to Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) -Erie County to develop a partnership. The Gow School in South Wales, NY serves students with dyslexia and learning disabilities. Gannon connected with Simms and Rose through Erie County's 4-H Public Presentations program, which is under the stewardship of Angela Northern and Teraisa Buratto.
Angela Northern, Regional 4-H Research Specialist in Erie County, wrote the Public Presentation program as a six-lesson series to provide guidance to staff at the Gow School in supporting students to systematically develop a public presentation. The series uses existing 4-H resources to build skills in developing and presenting illustrated talks and demonstrations. The expertise of Gow staff in the area of dyslexia and other language disorders allows them to support their students in using 4-H resources to develop their skills and then to participate in the county-level 4-H Public Presentation events without additional modifications. All students from Gow give a county-level public presentation in the winter. When the top 15% of county 4-H presenters are invited to the Western District Public Presentation event in the spring, there have always been representatives from the school who have qualified. The NYS 4-H Public Presentation event resumed in 2013, and Gow School students once again were represented among those who qualified. This year the state event will be held on Saturday, May 17th, in Morrison Hall on the Cornell campus. If you are interested in participating as an evaluator, please contact Nigel Gannon directly. Using this model, and with campus resources and partners in The Disabilities Institute, NYS 4-H is preparing an initiative focused on supporting county educators in their work with behaviorally and/or intellectually challenged students.
Nigel Gannon is the Healthy Living Program Specialist for New York State 4-H Youth Development. Nigel joined the 4-H State Office team in June 2012. In this position, and in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and volunteers, Nigel is promoting a holistic view of health that supports healthy eating, active living, thriving in adolescence, and social-emotional wellness. Nigel has twenty years of experience in education and youth development as an educator, advisor/mentor, and researcher. He earned his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago with a focus on adolescent mental health, secondary education, and urban sociology. He remains a kid at heart.