Work with dyslexic children earns Pine woman honor
Maria Paluselli is a humble woman, even when she's recognized for her life's work with dyslexic children.
“This has been my work and what I love to do for the past 20 years, so I kind of feel strange being recognized for something that I so enjoy,” she said. “It's what I love and it's been extremely satisfying watching middle or high school non-readers learn to read. That's life changing.”
Paluselli, 43, of Pine, is being honored with The Christopher Gardner Award for Excellence in the Field of Dyslexia in recognition of her work in expanding awareness of dyslexia in the Pittsburgh region.
She'll receive the award on April 5 at Dyslexia Today 2014: A Conference for Professionals and Parents hosted by the Pittsburgh regional branch of the Pennsylvania International Dyslexia Association in the DoubleTree by Hilton in Green Tree.
The Christopher Gardner award was started by his wife, Carrie, after her husband, who had dyslexia, died. It is to honor someone in Western Pennsylvania who has made a significant difference in the lives of people with dyslexia. About one in five children is affected by the language-based learning disability.
“My husband being dyslexic had no resources whatsoever growing up,” Carrie Gardner said. “Then my daughter is dyslexic and we're the in second generation and we're still struggling to get the help my husband couldn't get.”
She nominated Paluselli for the award this year. The recipient is chosen by the board of the Pittsburgh International Dyslexia Association.
“Maria was such a guiding force in everything that I had to go through and I know how many other people she's affected and influenced throughout her years working,” Carrie Gardner said.
Paluselli got her start working with dyslexic children more than 15 years ago. After receiving her master's degree in special education from Duquesne University, she began working as a learning support teacher at North Allegheny School District.
One summer she took a workshop at the University of Pittsburgh on the Orton-Gilingham instructional method, which is a phonetics-based approach to teach reading through repeating, retracing and writing simultaneously.
“I'd never heard of it before, but the description sounded like my students that I felt ill-equipped to teach as a new teacher,” Paluselli said.
After taking the summer course, the Pittsburgh Scottish Rite Masons were looking for someone to help open the Children's Dyslexia Center in Pittsburgh in 1999. Her workshop professor recommended Paluselli for the position.
Paluselli served as the director of the Pittsburgh Children's Dyslexia Center for 10 years, teaching more than 150 dyslexic students how to read and training more than 40 tutors in the Orton-Gilingham approach. She also helped form the Pittsburgh regional branch of the International Dyslexia Association in 2001.
“It seemed to be chance events, but it was pretty amazing,” she said of her decision to take the workshop that summer. “I opened that center with them and served there for 10 years as their director. I resigned from North Allegheny because I just fell in love with this.”
Paluselli now works as a learning support teacher at Eden Hall Upper Elementary.
Although Paluselli's life has been devoted to teaching dyslexic children, she says there's still a long way to go in the Pittsburgh region, calling it a “dyslexic desert” for its lack of private schools devoted to teaching dyslexic children.
“This area doesn't have any private schools trained in dyslexia and I have been able to share this with other teachers and see them get energized,” she said. “It's empowering.”
For more information about the Pittsburgh International Dyslexia Association or the conference, visit www.pbida.org.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shaler Area students get a taste of Japanese
- Ironman triathlete to visit Hampton church, share story of overcoming adversity
- Pine-Richland students named merit semifinalists
- Former Shaler resident set to celebrate 100th birthday
- Depreciation Lands Museum in Hampton to offer spooky lantern-lit tours
- Photo Gallery: Cookie-decorating class at the Northland Public Library
- Photo Gallery: Johnny Appleseed Day at Highcliff Elementary
- North Hills Community Outreach program helps those thrust into positions of need
- Northern Tier Regional Library in Richland to host authors
- Kuhns Market in Hampton set to open one week before Thanksgiving
- Local country-rock band to play at Shaler library