Feller School: a Madison, Wisconsin Startup

Kim Feller-Janus:

Several years ago I became disenchanted by my profession. I was not happy with the results of my work as a Reading Interventionist in a large school district. Yes, the students assigned to me made progress and the principals, teachers, and parents were pleased with my work, but I wasn’t. Year after year I worked with my students to reach “grade level reading” by years’ end and most of the time we met that goal. However, these same students were back to see me the following year because what they had learned the year before didn’t seem to stick and they were falling behind once again. This was hard to accept. I felt that I could do better, but I didn’t know how. And, this is why I decided that it was time to make a change.

Upon leaving the school environment I opened my own business, Auburn Reading Center, LLC. This gave me the opportunity to continue to work with struggling readers and time to learn more about effective reading instruction. This is when I discovered the book, Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide. I devoured it within hours and then I wanted to scream, “Why didn’t anyone teach this to me in college?!” 

This began my journey to learn more about our English language and the connection it has with the decades-old brain research. This research shows brain activity when a good reader is reading as well as the brain activity when a poor reader is reading. There is evidence proving that our brains are not wired to read and that we need to be taught. Effective reading instruction that is explicit, systematic, multisensory, and structured is the “silver bullet” for most people. This explained to me why the students I taught within the school system were making minimal overall progress and never actually becoming proficient readers. In fact, in some cases what I was doing may have been more harmful than helpful. This broke my heart and pushed me even more to learn a better way to teach.

My next thought was to learn more about the author of this amazing book and find a way to connect with her in hopes that she could lead me into the right direction for coursework or training. This is when I discovered that Denise Eide had also written a comprehensive language arts curriculum that is based on brain research. I also learned that her office was located in Rochester, Minnesota which is just a little over 3 hours away from where I lived. I was determined to make that 6-hour round trip to meet this brilliant woman. Fortunately for me, Denise graciously agreed to meet me for lunch near her office to talk about her book and curriculum. We also talked about my frustrations with what seemed to be a norm in most schools – which is the belief that there will always be about 20% of children who will never be good readers. This is something that I never want to accept.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?