The International Dyslexia Association Appoints Fairfield University’s Jule McCombes-Tolis, PhD as Chief Academic Officer


Media Contact: Susan Cipollaro, scipollaro@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000, ext. 2726

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (July 28, 2017) —The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) has appointed Fairfield University’s director of Reading and Language Development, Jule McCombes-Tolis, PhD, as the organization’s new chief academic officer. Dr. McCombes-Tolis will continue to serve as director of the Reading and Language Development program as she takes on new responsibilities with the IDA.

Dr. McCombes-Tolis has been an advocate for student literacy growth throughout her career and has dual expertise in special education and remedial reading. In her role as chief academic officer, Dr. McCombes-Tolis will lead the IDA’s Educator Training Initiative, a nationwide effort to provide meaningful accreditation of university programs and teacher training that gives teachers better tools and enhanced knowledge of structured literacy.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that between six to 17 percent of school age children have some form of dyslexia. The mission of the IDA is to support individuals who struggle with dyslexia and other related reading differences around the world. For over 65 years the IDA has been dedicated to providing current and reliable research to educate families and professionals about dyslexia, and to identify policy changes needed to deliver effective instruction to all students.

“IDA’s Educator Training Initiative strives to ensure that all students have access to classroom teachers who are knowledgeable about the principles and practices of structured literacy, and that students who require additional practice—or who require individualized remediation—have access to nationally credentialed specialists who have proven, through their supervised clinical training experiences, that they are able to positively and meaningfully impact students’ reading outcomes,” shared Dr. McCombes-Tolis.

As a literacy leader statewide, Dr. McCombes-Tolis has most recently partnered with Norwalk’s Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski on a grant to develop a summer dyslexia training program in an effort to help the district meet their teacher training and student intervention needs in the area of dyslexia. Together they secured an $80,000 grant from the Noble Charitable Trust to engage the literacy program Literacy How, in creating a summer dyslexia intervention clinic at Brookside Elementary School.

The first cohort of six Norwalk teachers is receiving training needed to earn certifications with the IDA as dyslexia practitioners and in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach to reading, which is widely used for students with dyslexia. These educators are serving 12 students this summer and will continue to work with them over the course of the next school year. Five Norwalk school psychologists will also receive training by Fairfield University in how to diagnose dyslexia.

Vol.# 50, No. 10

Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools.  In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

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Posted on August 1, 2017

Vol. 50, No. 10

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