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Womens Fund Gives $50,000 to Help Struggling Young Readers

Claire Krock talks about her daughter’s reading challenges.
Claire Krock talks about her daughter’s reading challenges. (Courtesy photo)

As a mother and an elementary teacher with 16 years in the field, Claire Krock felt helpless. Despite her best efforts, Krock’s daughter struggled to learn how to read.

It wasn’t until her child was privately assessed and diagnosed with dyslexia in the fourth grade that Krock was able to get her the help she needed.

The diagnosis changed her daughter’s life and gave Krock a new perspective on how to help her students. She finally understood why there were handfuls of students in her classroom over the years who she was never able to reach.

Students who didn’t respond to techniques used in a general classroom setting often were recommended for special education. The insight Krock gained from her daughter’s experience inspired to her to try to change the available pathways for struggling readers in local public schools.

Fast-forward to September 2017. Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) has launched a pilot program at Harding Elementary School to help struggling readers and literacy specialist Krock is at the helm.

The program uses research-based methods in a small group instructional setting of students displaying characteristics of dyslexia.

After a few months, the pilot program yielded impressive results. Students who were unable to read the most basic text are not only decoding the written word but developing a love of reading.

Student confidence and self-worth are rising along with their word count. So much so that SBUSD would like to expand the program to additional school sites in the coming school year.

Enter the Women’s Fund, which, since 2004, has awarded some $6.6 million to programs benefiting women, children and families in Santa Barbara County.

This year, the Women’s Fund donated $50,000 to Santa Barbara Education Foundation to help expand SBUSD’s intervention program for struggling readers.

This support will establish the program at McKinley Elementary next school year in hopes of changing learning outcomes for a new group of students.

Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara’s public education system, serving more than 15,000 students in 22 schools. For more information, visit

— Margie Yahyavi for Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

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