Help Struggling Readers

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Students who struggle due to ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism,
or Visual Impairments will find reading success with our
revolutionary Personalized Reader.

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WRITTEN BY OUR SPED TEAM!

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ANCIENT EGYPT - Pyramids

Every year, millions of people visit Egypt. Many go there just to see the amazing pyramids that the Egyptians built thousands of years ago. The pyramids are massive structures in the middle of the desert. The tallest one is almost 500 feet tall, and made of stone! But why did the Egyptians build these pyramids? What purpose did they serve? Pyramids were designed as burial tombs for Egyptian kings and pharaohs. The families could also be buried in the pyramids. The Egyptians believed that their kings were negotiators between gods and the people on Earth. This meant that kinds received the greatest respect from all of the Egyption people. Egyptians wanted to treat them well, even in death. Egyptians also believed in life after death. They wanted to make sure that kings were comfortable in the next life. That is why they made their kings into mummies to preserve their bodies after they died. They buried kings with gold and valuables. They wanted to make sure the kinds had everything they would need in the next life. A pyramid was the last part of the burial ritual for kings. The pyramids showed the importance of the kings. The first pyramid was built 4,500 years ago in Saqqara, Egypt. The first pyramids looked a little different from the ones that we know today. They were not smooth on the sides. They had steps going up all sides. The pyramids were built by stacking steps on top of each other. The pharaoh Sneferu created the style of pyramid that we see today. His pyramids were built with smooth sides all the way up. The smooth sides were important. They symbolized the rays of the sun. The Egyptians also believed that the smooth sides would allow the souls of the kings to ascend into heaven. Sneferu’s son, Khufu, built the Great Pyramid in Giza. It is the most famous of the pyramids. People still visit it today. For 4,000 years it was the tallest man-made structure in the world! Building the pyramids took a very long time. The Egyptians did not have construction equipment. They did not have electricity. The wheel had yet to be invented! The pyramids required a lot of workers. 20,000 men contributed to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza! The pyramid had 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks on the outside. Each one weighed over 2 tons! Inside, there were many chambers and passages. It was like a mansion. That is why construction of the Great Pyramid took over 20 years. Eventually, the Egyptian culture lost some of its wealth and power. As that happened, fewer and fewer pyramids were constructed. Today, the insides of the pyramids are mostly empty. Over the course of time, grave robbers took the valuables from the inside of the pyramids. The outsides of the pyramids are still intact. They are amazing to see. The pyramids are still some of the most impressive man-made structures in the history of the world. Maybe you will visit them someday!

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Students who struggle to read don’t fit
into a standard reading program.

Students who struggle to read don't fit into a standard reading program.
For them, even looking at the first few words on the page can induce anxiety.

LightSail’s Personalized Reader supports your struggling readers with our
ready-to-use templates designed by our SPED team - and then you can
fine tune with our unique tools to meet their individual needs.

Our Templates Get Your Students Reading with Confidence

Our expert team of special educators created specialized templates for specific learning needs.

Use these as a foundation & then try out the additional tools for your individual reader’s needs.

(Meet the SPED Team below!)

ADHD

In this template, start with one line of visible text in smooth-scrolling News Ticker mode. Text size is increased with words and letters spaced farther apart. The screen is in dark mode, which is sometimes preferred by those with ADHD. The font is Comic Sans. If a child needs to stand or move a lot while reading, this may be a good template for them.

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Language Processing Difficulties

In this template, the Reading Zone displays 5 lines of visible text in light mode. The spaces between words are slightly larger. Because of the comprehension needs of the language processing student, Read Along and Text-to-Speech speed is reduced to allow more time to process what is being read or heard.

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Autism

Low-Functioning

In this template, students are given three to four choices at most. The print will be large, using simplistic wording - one to two word descriptions would be best. Allow each choice to be color-coded, and include a picture symbol to aid in the student's understanding of the icon's purpose. A first/then board can help the student stay on task, and anticipate what is coming next. Simplifying is best. Make sure the app is in one place and does not change. The default settings will include one visible line of text in the Reading Zone with 3 words visible. Words will highlight as they are read, with Cover and Reveal mode on, only allowing three words to be shown at a time in the Reading Zone. The Time on Task tool may be used for the student to let them know how long they have on the task or the break. During their break, they may definitely benefit from a chance to move, or play with a favorite toy, or do deep breathing exercises (available on the Time on Task tool) to keep themselves stimulated and ready to work on the next task. These students may require more a higher break-to-work time ratio which can be adjusted in the Time on Task tool. They may benefit from calming music to stay focused on the work or break task, with different options available with the Audio button. Minimum break choices are customizable to not overwhelm the student. Keep graphics, words, and pictures minimal to avoid distractions and keep the student on task. Read Aloud mode will be very important for this student, set at a very slow pace as the default for the student to comprehend the text. Play Back mode for this student will be important to gather important details, and it may be a preferred activity-giving stimulation to this individual.

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ID

In this template, predictability is key, with minimum wording, graphics, and choices to help this student focus and know what to expect during the work task. The Reading Zone will show three lines of text in dark mode, with Cover Left mode on to cover words as they are read. The student will be given access to Time on Task mode where the timer will show how long they need to be on task, and how long they have for a break. Additionally, having the template in the same place - left-justified, color-coded, and with a dyslexic-friendly font will be important. The font will have increased space between the letters and words. The Read Aloud pace may be at a slightly slower speed to help with comprehension, and Text-to-Speech is set slower than the default. Calming sounds in the Audio mode will be important as well to ease anxiety about the assignment. Lots of graphics and games may be distracting for this student.

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ADHD & Dyslexia

In this template, the Reading Zone uses dark mode, with increased font size as well as spaces between words and letters. Syllable division is enabled for words with 3 or more syllables. In the Follow Along mode, smooth scrolling is off so that the entire word is highlighted at a time.

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CVI

In this template, find specific text adaptations to aid in reading independence for students with Cortical Vision Impairments. Within the zone, the font appears very large with one line of text displayed at a time and typically three words or fewer per line. Student are able to follow along with word bubbling as the text is read aloud within the zone. The student's favorite color should be selected for the border color. The spacing between the letters and the words are increased. The background below and above the zone is shaded black to minimize distractions. Remember to set time on task with the timer and permit white noise to play.

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Emergent Reader

In this template, the Reading Zone is in light mode showing one line of text at a time. The font is enlarged, with letters and words spaced farther apart. Syllabification is set for 2 and 3 syllable words and the syllable delay is set to on in the Follow Along mode. It is also set to Read Aloud by Syllable, which will read the multisyllabic words aloud for the reader. The Follow Along pace has been reduced to 70 wpm to give the emergent reader time to decode words. Tap to Listen is on so the emergent reader can tap on any unknown word.

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Anxious Student

In this template, functionality is clearly labelled, with color coding to be easily distinguishable. Soothing background music can be turned on. The Time on Task tool can be used so the student knows how long they have to go for reading tasks or a break. During breaks, utilize the deep breathing option. Sensory or movement breaks can be encouraged during breaks to increase physical well-being. Cover Left mode can be utilized so the student has an awareness as to how much of the text has been read and how much remains to be read. Allow many customization options that can be utilized to decrease anxiety to show on the student's dashboard. More customized options may set an anxious student at ease, as any problems that may arise could be offset by a tool. Playback mode may be important for this student to hear text again, as missing a key text element may frustrate the student.

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Down Syndrome

In this template, simplistic words plus pictures are very important. A timer to determine the length of a work task and a break length... will be very important. The student will require only 3 to 4 items in their dashboard - simple wording, simple picture, and a color coding. Cover and Reveal will show one word at a time with no graphic distractions. The font will offer increased space between the letters and words. Text-to-Speech is set significantly lower than default. Everything will remain in the same format each time. Calming sounds can help the student, plus a limited number of break choices using Time on Task and preferred break activities to keep them motivated. Read Along mode will be very important, set at a slower-than-normal pace to aid in comprehension and understanding.

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Dyslexia

In this template, a specific font design for students who have dyslexia shows 3 lines of visible text, though this assumes that the student has had instruction in a multisensory explicit phonics program. If they are just beginning their journey with an explicit phonics program, feel free to reduce this to one line of text. Words 3 syllables and longer have been syllabified. When using the Follow Along or Text-to-Speech, words appear in a frame and multisyllabic words are divided inside this box. The syllable delay is slightly longer to allow time for decoding these longer words. Words have been spaced widely, as well as letters within words.

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Visual Impairment

In this template, find specific text adaptations that focus on font size and color contrast for students with Visual Impairments. Within the zone, the font appears very large with one line of text at a time and typically three words or fewer per line. The spacing between the letters and the words are increased. The black font on a white background is paired with a dark shading above and below the zone to create the greatest contrast while reading. A thick yellow line is displayed underneath each word as the Follow Along feature and Read Aloud features are enabled. The Cover Left feature will darken each word after it is read. Students may benefit from the Time on Task tool - a timer to allow breaks and to work toward reading time sustainability.

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Wandering Mind

In this template, the Reading Zone displays 3 lines of visible text in dark mode using Comic Sans font. Both words and letters are spaced farther apart. The Follow Along option is set to highlight with the smooth scrolling off, which highlights each word in its entirety.

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SLD

In this template, a design for students who have dyslexia reduces the Reading Zone to one line of text in light mode. Words 3 syllables and longer have been syllabified. When using the Follow Along or Text-to-Speech, words appear in a frame and multisyllabic words are divided inside this box. The syllable delay is slightly longer to allow time for decoding these longer words. Words have been spaced widely, as well as letters within words. Read Along and Text-to-Speech speed is reduced to allow more time to process what is being read or heard.

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Autism

High-Functioning

In this template, start with four to five choices - larger print and slightly more complex wording than for a student in the low-functioning ASD range,... along with a picture symbol to accompany the word or words. Each choice is color-coded so it will be easy for the student to access. Additionally, a first/then board may be appropriate - first read, then play video games. The Time on Task tool may help a student stay on task during their work time. A timer would be appropriate so they know how long they have remaining on the task or break. A student using this template may appreciate playing video games, but still may benefit from a movement/sensory break. They may be able to handle an equal amount of break versus work time. Additionally, this student may like to have calming music playing during work/break sessions to keep calm and focused. The Read Aloud feature will be very important for this student, and should be set at a below average pace, along with the Cover Left option on which covers words as they are read. The screen is set in Blur Mode with half-shaded opacity so the targeted words are focused in the Reading Zone. Spotlight mode with the Line setting will brighten individual lines of text for aided focus.

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Low-
Progressing Regular Ed/Title Student

In this template, find adaptations to make reading easier and increase motivation for students who are considered low-progressing... students or students who receive Title reading services. Within the zone, the text is displayed in Comic Sans font with a slightly larger font size and an increased spacing between letters and words. Three lies of text are displayed at once with a Cover Left feature that covers the text as the student reads aloud or silently. A black arrow appears at the beginning of each word replicating a student touching underneath words while reading. Laser mode is an additional feature that could replicate a finger touching beneath each word. Shading is provided above and below the Reading Zone in black to reduce distraction while reading, though allowing the student to choose a favorite color of shading may increase student motivation. Consider enabling the Time on Task feature to reward the student with a game or motivating words celebration for time on task.

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I Hate Reading

In this template, there are customizations for the student who despises reading. The purpose of customizing the reading experience... is to increase the student's extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The features that are recommended will need a personalized touch. These specific personalizations were designed for a student who loves pink and purple. Allow the student to choose the shading color above and below the text. The opacity is set to the highest resolution to make the contrast the greatest and allow more of the student's favorite colors to appear. Allow the student to choose their favorite font. The zone background has been set to black with white font displayed to offer a completely different reading experience than the student would typically be used to seeing. As the words are being read, the font color will change to blue, though this color can be changed to the student's preference. The Text-to-Speech feature is enabled to allow the student to listen along and enjoy hearing the book. The Time on Task feature will be essential to set to provide frequent breaks for time on task and gaming or deep breathing breaks in between reading sessions. Further customizations can be set that the student may enjoy such as a laser and spotlight.

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The Negotiator

In this template, the student who needs breaks and positive reinforcement will find success. The Time on Task tool is essential... to delineate the length of the work task and the break. A menu option of break choices may help to motivate the student - deep-breathing exercises, video games, positive words, or offer time for a movement break. This student may benefit from motivating positive reinforcement on screen so that he or she knows that they are doing a good job. Offer this student lots of ability for choice and customization so they feel like they are in control of their situation and learning. Cover Left is on as a default to show how much they've read so far, and the upcoming text will be slightly shaded. The Negotiator student requires lots of options to motivate - all template options should be available, but not without the teacher allowing access.

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With our Personalized Reader, students can try each of our unique tools
to create customized support for their reading journey

CustomFonts VisibleLines ScreenContrast FollowAlong ReadAloud BlurMode HighlightShading Cover &Reveal WordBubbles(CVI) NewsTickerMode Spotlight &Laser Tools Time onTask Text-to-Speech
CustomFonts VisibleLines ScreenContrast FollowAlong ReadAloud BlurMode HighlightShading Cover &Reveal WordBubbles(CVI) NewsTickerMode Spotlight &Laser Tools Time onTask Text-to-Speech

Watch your student’s reading confidence grow with
LightSail’s Personalized Reader!

Meet our SPED Team

person_lady

Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D.

Behaviors Characteristic of CVI
& SPED Teacher

Dr. Roman-Lantzy was raised in Michigan and received degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education/ Visual Impairment at Michigan State University. She worked as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired in the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area for 17 years prior to becoming a Research Assistant in the Vision Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. While at Pitt, she completed studies in Orientation & Mobility and received a Master’s Degree in Medically Fragile/High Risk Infants Her doctoral studies were also completed at Pitt where she completed a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation, Validation of an Interview Instrument to Identify Behaviors Characteristic of Cortical Visual Impairment in Infants revealed that caregivers of infants can reliably report regarding the presence or absence of the characteristics of CVI. Dr. Roman is the Director of The Pediatric View Program at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA and a former Project Leader of the CVI Project at The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY. She has lectured extensively regarding the CVI educational materials she has developed. These materials include: The CVI Range an assessment of functional vision, and The CVI Resolution Chart & CVI/O&M Resolution Chart used to plot and monitor progress both of which will be available in a book in press (working title, CVI: Identication, Assessment & Intervention) with The American Foundation for the Blind.

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amanda

Amanda Strout, M.S.Ed.

Reading Specialist

Amanda Strout, M.Ed., is a Reading Specialist who has taught children with language-based learning disabilities for over 15 years. She has worked with children at the pre-school, elementary, and middle school levels. She has worked as a reading teacher, a 2nd grade self-contained classroom teacher for kids with LBLD, and a learning specialist focusing on students who need individualized academic remediation.

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kelly

Kelli Trenga, Ed.D.

Educational Leadership &
Elementary SPED

Dr. Trenga is the coordinator of PENNCREST Cyber Academy in western Pennsylvania. She previously taught various levels of elementary education for over 15 years, with heavy emphasis on literacy instruction and special education. During that time, Kelli was honored with the Crawford County’s Educator of the Year award. She holds degrees in Elementary and Special Education, and Curriculum and Instruction from Mercyhurst University and Gannon University, respectfully.
Her passion for education drove her to pursue her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Her dissertation was a phenomenological study of dental professionals’ preparedness to manage the behaviors of patients with autism spectrum disorder during dental treatment. In addition to professional pursuits, Kelli serves on local boards for the United Way and Child to Family to Connections. She resides in Meadville, Pa. with her husband and two sons.
Her doctoral studies were also completed at Pitt where she completed a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation, Validation of an Interview Instrument to Identify Behaviors Characteristic of Cortical Visual Impairment in Infants revealed that caregivers of infants can reliably report regarding the presence or absence of the characteristics of CVI. Dr. Roman is the Director of The Pediatric View Program at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA and a former Project Leader of the CVI Project at The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY. She has lectured extensively regarding the CVI educational materials she has developed. These materials include: The CVI Range an assessment of functional vision, and The CVI Resolution Chart & CVI/O&M Resolution Chart used to plot and monitor progress both of which will be available in a book in press (working title, CVI: Identification, Assessment & Intervention) with The American Foundation for the Blind.

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kelsey

Kelsey Thompson M.S.Ed.

Speech Language Pathologist

Kelsey is an ASHA-certified speech language pathologist and licensed in North Carolina. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, also garnering awards for academic achievement and research. Kelsey has worked in pediatric private practice since 2015, serving children birth to 22 in the home, school, daycare, and clinic settings. Kelsey has experience working with a variety of diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Dysarthria, Down Syndrome, expressive/receptive language disorder, fluency, articulation/phonological disorder, dyslexia, ADHD, as well as a number of genetic and feeding disorders. Notably, Kelsey has specific experience treating children with apraxia and working with middle school and high school age students on higher level language processing, executive functioning skills, and reading. In addition to her clinical experience, Kelsey is currently pursuing her PhD in Speech & Hearing Sciences.

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person_01

Shane Starrak, Ed.D.

Special Education

Dr. Starrak received his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from the University of Central Florida in the field of Early Childhood Education, with an emphasis in Early Literacy. He received his Doctoral Degree in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University. He has over fifteen years of experience in the special education classroom, working with K-12 students. His current role is the Technology Content Specialist for Brevard Public Schools in Florida.

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Christine

Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D.

Behaviors Characteristic of CVI
& SPED Teacher

Dr. Roman-Lantzy was raised in Michigan and received degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education/ Visual Impairment at Michigan State University. She worked as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired in the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area for 17 years prior to becoming a Research Assistant in the Vision Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. While at Pitt, she completed studies in Orientation & Mobility and received a Master’s Degree in Medically Fragile/High Risk Infants Her doctoral studies were also completed at Pitt where she completed a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation, Validation of an Interview Instrument to Identify Behaviors Characteristic of Cortical Visual Impairment in Infants revealed that caregivers of infants can reliably report regarding the presence or absence of the characteristics of CVI. Dr. Roman is the Director of The Pediatric View Program at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA and a former Project Leader of the CVI Project at The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY. She has lectured extensively regarding the CVI educational materials she has developed. These materials include: The CVI Range an assessment of functional vision, and The CVI Resolution Chart & CVI/O&M Resolution Chart used to plot and monitor progress both of which will be available in a book in press (working title, CVI: Identification, Assessment & Intervention) with The American Foundation for the Blind.

More Less
amanda

Amanda Strout, M.S.Ed.

Reading Specialist

Amanda Strout, M.Ed., is a Reading Specialist who has taught children with language-based learning disabilities for over 15 years. She has worked with children at the pre-school, elementary, and middle school levels. She has worked as a reading teacher, a 2nd grade self-contained classroom teacher for kids with LBLD, and a learning specialist focusing on students who need individualized academic remediation.

More Less
kelly

Kelli Trenga, Ed.D.

Educational Leadership &
Elementary SPED

Dr. Trenga is the coordinator of PENNCREST Cyber Academy in western Pennsylvania. She previously taught various levels of elementary education for over 15 years, with heavy emphasis on literacy instruction and special education. During that time, Kelli was honored with the Crawford County’s Educator of the Year award. She holds degrees in Elementary and Special Education, and Curriculum and Instruction from Mercyhurst University and Gannon University, respectfully.
Her passion for education drove her to pursue her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Her dissertation was a phenomenological study of dental professionals’ preparedness to manage the behaviors of patients with autism spectrum disorder during dental treatment. In addition to professional pursuits, Kelli serves on local boards for the United Way and Child to Family to Connections. She resides in Meadville, Pa. with her husband and two sons.
Her doctoral studies were also completed at Pitt where she completed a Ph.D. in 1996; her dissertation, Validation of an Interview Instrument to Identify Behaviors Characteristic of Cortical Visual Impairment in Infants revealed that caregivers of infants can reliably report regarding the presence or absence of the characteristics of CVI. Dr. Roman is the Director of The Pediatric View Program at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA and a former Project Leader of the CVI Project at The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY. She has lectured extensively regarding the CVI educational materials she has developed. These materials include: The CVI Range an assessment of functional vision, and The CVI Resolution Chart & CVI/O&M Resolution Chart used to plot and monitor progress both of which will be available in a book in press (working title, CVI: Identification, Assessment & Intervention) with The American Foundation for the Blind.

More Less
kelsey

Kelsey Thompson M.S.Ed.

Speech Language Pathologist

Kelsey is an ASHA-certified speech language pathologist and licensed in North Carolina. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, also garnering awards for academic achievement and research. Kelsey has worked in pediatric private practice since 2015, serving children birth to 22 in the home, school, daycare, and clinic settings. Kelsey has experience working with a variety of diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Dysarthria, Down Syndrome, expressive/receptive language disorder, fluency, articulation/phonological disorder, dyslexia, ADHD, as well as a number of genetic and feeding disorders. Notably, Kelsey has specific experience treating children with apraxia and working with middle school and high school age students on higher level language processing, executive functioning skills, and reading. In addition to her clinical experience, Kelsey is currently pursuing her PhD in Speech & Hearing Sciences.

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Shane

Shane Starrak, Ed.D.

Special Education

Dr. Starrak received his Bachelor's and Masters Degree's from the University of Central Florida in the field of Early Childhood Education, with an emphasis in Early Literacy. He received his Doctoral Degree in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University. He has over fifteen years of experience in the special education classroom, working with K-12 students. His current role is the Technology Content Specialist for Brevard Public Schools in Florida.

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