Science of Reading is a Priority at PEP

From Skeptic to Believer

A woman faces the camera and smiles
Lori Murphy

When Lori Murphy began the training process to earn her Wilson Reading System© Level I Certification nearly five years ago, she was a skeptic. At the time, she was a teacher-counselor for PEP Phoenix and Positive Education Program was encouraging more of its teachers to become certified in the program, one which is geared toward students with dyslexia and informed by the science of reading. Murphy reluctantly agreed.

“I was initially resistant to spending the time on training. I didn’t know how I would make it work in my classroom,” she explained. “But then I started implementing it with a student with the support from my mentor, Cyndy Edwards. It was miraculous. I was sold.”

Murphy, who is now PEP’s staff development specialist, said the student she worked with went from reading at a third-grade level to catching up to her seventh-grade peers in just two years. Today, that same student is very successful in school. She attributes that success to her ability to understand what she is reading. “Seeing this kind of progress,” Murphy said, “made me want to continue to the second level of certification.”

PEP’s Commitment to Science of Reading

Murphy wasn’t the only one to witness the impressive results of the Wilson Reading System©. Once implemented, the program speaks for itself. According to the Wilson website, the Wilson Reading System© is designed for students in grades 2-12 and adults with word-level deficits who are not making sufficient progress through their current intervention; have been unable to learn with other teaching strategies; or who require more intensive structured literacy instruction due to a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia.

Wilson Language Training©, the organization behind the Wilson Reading System© offers two additional programs. Fundations©, which is for grades K-3, utilizes a structured literacy approach grounded in the science of reading to make learning to read fun, while laying the groundwork for lifelong literacy. Just Words©, which PEP uses with middle schoolers, is a word-level intervention program for students who need additional support learning to read and spell at grade-level. The program’s research-based approach presents all skills in an explicit, systematic and sequential manner.[i]

Every fall, all PEP teachers who are new to teaching in a PEP K-3 classroom or new to a middle grade classroom, receive training in how to use the appropriate Wilson program for their grade level. PEP’s instructional coaches, who provide support and training to PEP’s classroom staff, also attend trainings to help teachers implement the program with fidelity.

Murphy Earns Multiple Wilson Language Training© Credentials

After the “miraculous” experience with her first student, Murphy did go on to earn her Level II Wilson Language System© certification. And she didn’t stop there. This month, Murphy earned her Facilitator and Presenter Certification for Fundations© and Just Words©.

This achievement, which will enable her to train PEP staff and spend time in PEP classrooms teaching alongside staff so they become comfortable with the programs, was years in the making. The Level I training entails working one-on-one with a student for a full year. Level II, which takes two more years, requires both working at advanced levels and working with a group of students. Murphy attained her Level II certification during the pandemic, completing the program virtually – something that had never been done before. For the facilitator and presenter certification in Fundations© and Just Words©, Murphy worked with teachers and students in program classrooms at two PEP schools. (Thanks Tawnya Schneider at PEP Willow Creek and Dana Anger at PEP Eastwood for opening your classrooms!) Murphy also had to work with the program in a public school.

In addition to Murphy, PEP boasts several other staff who have earned various levels of certification with the Wilson Reading System©.

Level I Certification
  • Sweta Asher, Instructional Coach
  • Tracy Corso, Speech Language Pathologist
  • Julie Lanigan, Educational Services Coordinator
  • Carole Sever, Staff Development Coordinator
  • Chris Henry, Instructional Coach (Anticipated – still in process)
Level II Certification
  • Donna Fedor, Speech Language Pathologist

“It’s amazing to see kids make huge strides,” enthused Murphy. “But the most exciting part to me is when a teacher becomes really comfortable with the program and can help a student make those strides. I nerd out when I come into a classroom and see the Wilson stuff on the wall. It’s the gateway that’s going to make them successful in everything else.”

Clearly, Murphy is no longer a skeptic. She has seen the program work wonders and is proud to support PEP’s commitment to the science of reading and the success of its students.

Learn More

To learn more about PEP’s commitment to ensuring its students have access to high-quality instruction, visit our website. Contact Nicole Molnar, clinical coordinator, at 216-361-7760 ext. 110 or via email to see if a student in your district may be a good fit.

Please note, referrals are made through school districts. Interested parents or caregivers should contact their school administrator.






[i] Wilson Language Training, accessed 6/23/23.