National literacy advocate to appear at free weekend seminars

TUPELO – Literacy advocate John Corcoran, a former teacher who learned to read at the age of 48, will present two free seminars in Tupelo this weekend.
“He is nationally recognized,” said Helen Pitts, a dyslexia advocate working with her husband, Hoyet, to organize the events. Sessions will be Saturday at The Orchard and Sunday at The Summit Center.
“He’s coming because he knows we’re trying to help a bunch of kids,” Hoyet Pitts said.
According to the Web site johncorcoranfoundation.com, Corcoran hid his illiteracy for years, even while graduating from college and becoming a high school English teacher. His books include “The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read” and “The Bridge to Literacy.”
The Pitts learned about Corcoran through their own work helping children to read, including their son, Zachary.
Now 15, Zachary was 10 and starting the fourth grade when his parents sent him to live with relatives in Memphis so he could receive intensive reading remediation at a private school specializing in dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities.
Through billboards across the state, the Pitts have campaigned for universities to provide better training to teacher candidates to deal with dyslexia, a language-based disorder that affects a person’s ability to spell, write and read. The billboards, which some view as negative and controversial, have brought attention to their cause, Helen Pitts said.
Ads for the seminars that have appeared in the Daily Journal and on the electronic billboard at Crosstown claim that “Mississippi has the chance to be first in literacy.”
“I feel like this is really positive,” Pitts said, noting that illiteracy is not just a Mississippi problem but a national one. “This is what we need to do. It’s about the kids.”

Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or ginny.miller@djournal.com.

Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal