Greg and Nikki Davis.
Recently, two successful graduates of San Marcos High School educated their educators on the subject of dyslexia. The brother and sister team of Greg Davis (Class of 1993) and Nicole “Nikki” Davis (Class of 1994) presented five life lessons to San Marcos CISD educators based on their experiences with dyslexia.
Greg Davis is a successful businessman in his thirties who has severe dyslexia. His younger sister, Nikki, is a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, where she investigates the neurobiological correlates of learning disabilities (LD). They have been working together, speaking at conferences as a team, for the last five years. Their lectures center on lessons for success for dyslexics.
In his lecture, Greg Davis discussed his life experiences with dyslexia, especially occurrences in the classroom and on the playground. He called on his former teachers to read out loud from his Power Point slides. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in the fourth grade, when he developed a severe reading disorder.
Nikki Davis followed each of Greg’s experiences with balanced research findings from the fields of education, neurobiology and cognition.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms that result in difficulties with specific language skills, primarily reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.
Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives, but its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the traditional instructional environment. In its more severe forms, dyslexia will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
The idea to present the Davis’s unique experiences and professional research hit a snag when the computer on which Greg wrote a book about the subject was stolen during a home burglary. Fortunately, he had e-mailed a copy of the outline of the book to Nikki and they now use that outline for their teaching format.
The main points of the Davis’s lecture entailed supporting the child with dyslexia, helping that child face challenges, teaching the child to educate others and exceed expectations, and emphasizing success outside of school.
Greg and Nikki Davis both received their Bachelor degrees from Texas A&M in College Station. Nikki continued her education at the University of Colorado, where she earned her Masters in Speech Sciences and a Dual Doctoral Degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Neuroscience.
Greg received his International MBA from Thunderbird and also served in the Peace Corps in Honduras, where he had to learn to communicate in Spanish. He is now a successful financial consultant in Austin.
He told the assembled educators, “Once dyslexics find their place in the world, they’re unstoppable.”
More information on dyslexia is available at the International Dyslexia Association’s Web site at www.interdys.org, or call the SMCISD Special Education Department at (512) 383-6933.