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S5E5 Tuning In to the Social-Emotional Needs of College Students and Adults With Dyslexia


Dr. Barbara Wirostko and Donell Pons, M.Ed, MAT, join Laura Axtell to discuss the social-emotional and academic needs of college students and adult learners with dyslexia. The discussion focuses on both what did and didn’t work for these students over the course of the pandemic and how we can take these lessons into the future.

Expert Guests

Barbara Wirostko (Morelli) MD is the mother of the late Joseph James Morelli and the founder of the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation. Barb received her BA from Cornell University and her MD from Columbia University. She is a board-certified ophthalmologist and fellowship trained glaucoma specialist with an Adjunct Professor appointment at Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. She is an entrepreneur and serves on several local boards and committees. Barb lives in Park City, UT with her husband and children.

Donell Pons has a husband and several children with dyslexia.  When Ms. Pons discovered her son had dyslexia and was struggling to find appropriate services, she went back to school and received a dual MED and MAT in teaching and learning with a special education certification, none of which addressed dyslexia. Ms. Pons has taught secondary Language Arts and worked at a charter school focusing on supporting students on the Autism spectrum.  Ms. Pons is trained in multiple Structured Literacy based reading methods.  She was the Literacy and Reading Coordinator and ELL Director at a public charter school and her efforts to implement a comprehensive literacy program there were featured in Language Magazine, October 2016 and MiddleWeb SmartBrief. Ms. Pons has produced a nationally recognized three-part webcast series on teaching reading and recognizing dyslexia and has had numerous articles in educational publications.  She is a member of Decoding Dyslexia Utah and helped compose the Utah State Dyslexia Handbook. She is currently working with adults in a Workplace Literacy program as well as supporting students with dyslexia in the transition to college.

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