East Tennessee Focus Center can help

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer


There are few things as frustrating and worrisome to a parent than a child who is falling behind in school because of a reading problem. There are several reasons for not reading well and one of them is dyslexia.

Nanette Grillone, the Learning Lab director at the East Tennessee Focus Center, specializes in Diagnostic Prescriptive Tutoring and says she loves working with struggling students. Grillone, known affectionately as “Ms. G,” is a retired teacher and comes to her specialty as a result of being dyslexic herself.

So, what is Diagnostic Prescriptive Tutoring?

“Let’s compare it to going to your General Practitioner (GP) or family doctor,” explained Grillone. “Your doctor writes you a prescription to go see a physical therapist.  The physical therapist assesses your abilities and then comes up with an individualized plan, pulling from all of the resources and tools that are available, to meet your specific needs.

“This is similar to how diagnostic prescriptive tutoring works.”

East Tennessee Focus Center Director Dr. Sadonya Meadows Allen said the Learning Lab is a new division at the Focus Center. “Currently, we are taking students in grades K through 5 needing immediate reading intervention for our diagnostic prescriptive tutoring program,” she told The Focus.  Other areas and levels of tutoring may be available upon request.

The Learning Lab provides more than just private tutors for children, offering a variety of programs to meet each child’s individual needs.

“As the Learning Lab Director, I am trained in many reading and math intervention approaches and can easily pull from my teaching tool belt to meet most learning difficulties,” Grillone said. “In diagnostic prescriptive tutoring, there is a gradual release of support over time.  For example, your child may be recommended to come to tutoring twice a week for one month, then once a week for three months, then once every two weeks for a month, and then a maintenance session once every other month, etc. until your child has full control or independence in their former area of need.

“We use your child’s unique interests and strengths in approaching their tutoring, making it relevant to them.”

After 33 years in the profession Grillone said that helping students is her passion and added there’s a real joy when a student learns to do something that once was difficult for them.

She shared her struggles as a child with dyslexia and having no one like her. “It was very frustrating for my mother in knowing how to help me, as she wished that she had a resource she could go to and get training or direction in how to help me read better in school.

“Once your child’s peers find out that your child can’t read or struggles, then your child begins to realize they are different.”

Grillone said that this affects the child socially as well as academically.  ”Parents, if you are not sure, in doubt, received modified grades on your child’s report card (having an “*” next to the English Language Arts (ELA) grade), or received a letter from the school stating that your child has been placed in the RTI process, then, I would encourage you to make an appointment and let us help you help your child succeed.”

“We’ve just started the second semester of school, and if your child is not reading on grade level, then it’s time to get some help, sooner rather than later.  The earlier we catch them, the less they will fall.  If you have a child in Kindergarten, first or second grade, reading below grade level, consider getting another opinion.

“Sometimes I just need to untangle a few reading knots and then the child is back on track.  Sometimes the child needs extra work on foundational structures that are essential building blocks needed for reading, before moving on.”

Grillone not only tutors the child with tailored programs, she offers training to the parents so they can help the child at home better.

“Tutors are temporary but parents are permanent.  This is why I take the time to teach the parent.”

The East Tennessee Focus Center can also help adults with learning disabilities. The Center is located at 9220 Park West Boulevard (off Cedar Bluff Exit) and you can find East Tennessee Focus Center online at www.easttennesseefocuscenter.com or contact them by calling (865) 247-6754.