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NESA Webinars

A Conversation About Reading to Learn Versus Learning to Read



Susan Grant and Ben Shifrin

Mondays, May 10 & 24, 2021 | 4:00-5:00pm (ATHENS GMT+3)

offered at no cost to NESA Schools



Session 1:

MAY 10

This interactive one-hour session will provide an overview of the neuroscience of reading and insight as to why some children may struggle to learn to read. The neurobiological underpinnings of language and reading will be discussed including:

      • The early warning signs and risk factors for reading failure;
      • Differentiation of a struggling reader verses a reading disability;
      • The neurobiological processes that impact “reading to learn”.

Session 2:

MAY 24

Session Two will provide a one-hour interactive exploration of the best strategies and remedial techniques for helping struggling readers and children with language-based reading disabilities.

Participants will learn:

      • What are the critical reading precursors;
      • The phonological and phonemic awareness skills that are essential for learning to read;
      • Strategies and activities for teaching essential reading precursors.

Target Audience

Elementary teachers and learning support faculty, but all are welcome.

Attendance at both sessions is recommended as understanding the neuroscience behind reading (Session 1) will help participants to better understand the reason behind a phonic approach (Session 2).

Steve Barkley

Neurolinguist; Chair

Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth, Office of Overseas Schools, U.S. Department of State


Susan Grant holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, having trained at the University of Maryland-College Park, and the Graduate School of Medicine at the UMAB campus. She specializes and conducted research in Neurolinguistics, the study of the relationship between brain and language development. She also has a Master of Science degree and Maryland license in Speech and Language Pathology.

Dr. Grant lectures and has presented many workshops nationally and internationally on the applicability of brain research to good teaching practice, language and reading acquisition, and learning disabilities. She is Chair of the Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools.

Steve Barkley

Head of School

Jemicy School, Maryland


Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth


Ben Shifrin is completing his 19th year as Head of Jemicy School in Owings Mills, Maryland. Shortly after joining Jemicy School in 2002, he facilitated a merger with Valley Academy, helping to successfully create Baltimore’s first Grades 1-12 curriculum for students with language-based learning differences.

Mr. Shifrin previously spent 14 years serving as a special education administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, California. He later served as the head of Westmark School, one of California’s premier institutions for students with learning differences. During this time, he also served as a board member of the L.A. Chapter of the International Dyslexia Association and a member of the Learning Disabilities Association and the National Association of Independent Schools.

Registration Fees

Offered at no cost to NESA Schools.

Non-members: US $50 per person for both sessions.


Payment Options

Non-members only.

Supported by the Office of Overseas Schools, U.S. Department of State