By the end of fourth grade, I was reading at a fifth grade level; just like magic.
My name is Lori McPherson and I am a mother of two littles in Rancho Murieta, California. First I want to take a moment to say truly, thank you.
In 1992 I was eight years old and entering a new school because I could not keep up at the private catholic school that I had been attending. I was entering the fourth grade and could not read. I excelled in all subjects on every diagnostic test given to me, as long as the instructor read to me. My parents had taken me to every tutor available and had me tested for every diagnosis possible. The result was always the same, there was nothing wrong with me, I just could not read. As I began fourth grade and the school started to talk about special education classes, one counselor came up with an idea. She had heard of a special new phonics that maybe would help me. I was tutored using Zoo-Phonics and guess what? By the end of fourth grade, I was reading at a fifth grade level; just like magic. Nothing had ever worked before. I was so embarrassed and exhausted with learning and Zoo-Phonics taught me to read. What you created was a true gift to me and my thanks could never be enough.
Fast forward to December of last year and my little boy, Henry was still struggling at age three and a half to speak in sentences. My rational brain has told me since he was two and not talking, that he will move at his own pace and will be fine. My irrational, mommy brain has been screaming, “What if he is in the fourth grade and can’t read!”. He has previously been to physicians who say he is behind however, is a perfectly healthy, intelligent, typical little boy. We sent him to a preschool program within a daycare setting for the past year and have not been happy with the “extra” socialization he is receiving from one of the teachers and several of the other children. Because I am a totally rational, well adjusted adult, I did what any normal non-mommy brain adult would do… I decided to become an early childhood educator at the age of thirty-five. 😉
In February of 2019 I began classes in Early Childhood Education and have learned so much. Slowly, I have realized that this is all so instinctual to me. While going through my mom’s old box of everything she wanted to save from my early childhood I found a book that my teachers helped me create in preschool. They asked us questions and wrote down our answers. I could not contain my laughter when I read, “What do you want to be when you grow, up? Answer: A mommy, A teacher, A Doctor, and A Rockstar. Make sure you put it in that order!” It all makes sense to me now. My spunky little, four year old self was telling the future: Mommy to Henry and Margaret, followed by Early Childhood Educator, followed by Early Childhood Education Professor, Followed by… well maybe I’ll become famous and meet Gwen Stefani and we’ll make an Early Childhood Education Rap record together, making me a Rockstar. Hey, anything could happen! In all seriousness, I truly have found my calling and am determined to give my children the best education possible.
Because, I believe that all children, especially my strong willed little man, need educators other than their parents involved in their lives, my husband and I have enrolled Henry in a carefully selected preschool program that begins in September of 2019. One our search we even stopped by your Safari Learning Center because I had been listening to your podcast, which I found in a search of Early Childhood Education on iphone app. Imagine my surprise when I realized who you were. The educator who created Zoo-Phonics and your center was an hour and a half away from me! My husband and I grew up in a Mississippi river town of 30,000 people in Illinois. We moved to San Diego, California, for his work, in 2012 and Sacramento in 2014 because we were pregnant and could not afford to live in a one bedroom shack on the beach with a baby. We moved to start our family and moved an hour and half away from the creator of the program that taught me to read!
Your program and way of educating has inspired me so much. While we are waiting for Henry to start preschool two days a week I will be teaching him and two of his friends Zoo-Phonics. When he begins preschool in the Fall I will continue to teach his friends as well as him on the other three mornings of the week. My hope is that using them as my cute little test subjects, combined with my own schooling, I will be able to start my own, small, neighborhood preschool program in the future.
Much appreciation for all that you do,
Lori McPherson, mom and early-educator-to-be
April 10, 2019