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MLP Alumnus Donates to Library!

Michael Fenter, a local certified public accountant (CPA) and former M.L. Phillips Elementary student, has donated money to the school’s library fund. Mr. Fenter wanted the donation to benefit the entire school’s population. The money will be used to purchase signage for library shelves and books about good character traits.

Mr. Fenter also donated two copies of the book, Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, M.D., who is co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. As a child, Mr. Fenter was diagnosed with dyslexia. He enjoyed learning but struggled to read and spell at grade level. The dyslexia diagnosis allowed the school to provide Mr. Fenter with the intervention and help he needed to become successful.

In Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr. Shaywitz explains, “people with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make.” Dyslexia is common, affecting 20 percent of the population. Scientific research has shown there are specific differences in brain connectivity between children with dyslexia and those who read typically, which provided a neurological basis for why reading and spelling fluently is a struggle for those with dyslexia.

Dr. Shaywitz also dispelled some of the myths about dyslexia in her book, including:

* Dyslexia cannot be cured, but with the necessary support and understanding, dyslexic students can be become good students, and highly successful adults.

* While children with dyslexia may struggle to read and spell, this has no connection to intelligence. People with dyslexia read slower than other people, however they also excel as creative thinkers, problem solvers, and have outstanding reasoning and logic.

* People with dyslexia are not lazy or undisciplined. In fact, they work much harder to read and spell compared to other non-dyslexic students.

Mr. Fenter said, “Being dyslexic taught me resiliency. I had many failures in school, especially with spelling. I learned to keep trying, to keep pressing, to persevere and overcome. The experience of trying very hard and still failing benefited me as an adult. The path to becoming a CPA is quite challenging. As a CPA candidate taking the test, I saw many of my peers give up on the goal of passing the exam. They weren’t accustomed to failure. Trying hard and failing was nothing new to me. Dyslexia taught me grit, and that real failure only happens when you give up.”

Mr. Fenter said that he made the donations to give back to his elementary school, and to bring attention to dyslexia and the hardships that dyslexic students face in an academic setting. He wanted to provide a tangible reminder that dyslexic students can achieve great success even though many dyslexics are not successful in school.