Dana Reed and Donna Brown, who have 27 and
25 years of teaching experience, respectively, will serve as the initial instructors at the school, officially titled the New Mexico Scottish Rite Foundation Learning Center at San Juan Lodge.
"It's a mouthful," joked Ron Holloway, deputy district grandmaster for the Masons.
The clinic normally would cost $30 an hour per child, but all classes will be free thanks to Scottish Rite, a branch of the Masons — hence the school's name.
Scottish Rite's official philanthropy is learning disabilities, and members from around the world contribute $10 million every day toward the effort, Holloway said.
"That's the bottom line. It's about helping kids," Holloway said.
Because of the highly specialized care needed to teach the targeted children, the program will be selective at first. The goal is to begin with eight children from the Aztec Municipal School District and possibly a few additional students.
"It's a very, very intense, specialized therapy," Reed said. "So we probably won't have more than two children in one session."
About 80 percent of students learn to read no matter what and, about 20 percent need slightly specialized instruction, Reed said. They're looking for the 5 to 10 percent with severe reading problems.
The teachers needed the support of their former school district because they hoped to perform most of the instruction during school hours. Following a meeting with Aztec Superintendent Linda Paul on Wednesday, it seems the program has been given a green light.
"The district fully supports what they're trying to do, and we're working closely with them," Paul said.
The clinic is ideally for younger children, particularly second- and third-graders. The plan is for parents to pick their children up at school, drive them to the nearby Masonic lodge for an hour-long session, and then drive the students back to their normal school.
Reed stresses the learning center isn't particularly exclusive to young public school children, and private school and home school children can apply as well.
"If someone really wants to read and comes to us, and we feel that they're really sincere about it ... we'd look at that," Reed said.
Applications are currently being accepted, and the teachers have received three so far. The program is planned to run Monday through Thursday for one hour a day during the school year.
The school is scheduled to open its doors in early September following a grand opening dinner Sept. 6.
"It's a great program and a great service in the community," Paul said.
G. Jeff Golden: firstname.lastname@example.org