Wency’s Journey: Navigating Dyslexia Education with Purpose

Written by Wencyglen Oropesa

At its core, the idea of purpose is the idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves.” This quote by Dr. Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the book ‘Grit’, is the pill-sized encapsulation of how I actually got involved with the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), which officially began on 19 June 2023. From the outset of my career, I could say with all honesty that this ongoing journey with DAS has been the most rewarding so far.

I started my teaching journey in the Philippines right after earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from West Visayas State University in 2012. After nearly six years of teaching in my home country, I decided to venture abroad and explore new opportunities. I taught in Jakarta, Indonesia for nearly five years as a Special Education Teacher throughout. From there, I’ve gained new insights by challenging myself to see difficult situations, whether personal or work-related, through the lens of continuous growth. During those inclement phases, my resounding purpose even became clearer to me.

Having encountered a student with dyslexia firsthand for the first time, I was struck by the paradox of their abundant creativity and profound struggle with reading. At the same time, I was consumed by fascination with the intricacies of the human brain. I started to do simple research about this intriguing difference, including ways that could meaningfully help them cope. It was during this pursuit that I stumbled upon the term ‘Orton Gillingham approach’. However, I soon realised that implementing this effectively required specialised training. As I kept researching, I was thrilled to discover a dedicated and vibrant organisation conveniently located in a nearby country – Singapore.

I navigated through the application process of being an Educational Therapist, delving into the favourable resources and support willingly offered by the DAS. It was truly fantastic to learn that they hold the professional development of their Educational Therapists in high regard, investing in their training through the organisation’s very own, distinguished DAS Academy. Without a doubt, I knew exactly where I’m heading at. DAS ticked all the boxes: a sense of unyielding dedication, exceptional quality service and training, and a whole community of changemakers. If there ever was a ‘visual prompt’ akin to a visible, glowing arrow, it’s been pointing ‘feverishly’ towards DAS.

Soon after completing the initial briefing via Zoom, participating in visual drills and a detailed writing test, followed by the first interview through the same process, and finally travelling to Singapore for the concluding interview, I felt deeply honoured to have been finally accepted and welcomed by DAS. The next thing I had to do was find accommodation. I tried to look for one by reaching out to friends who had previously worked or were currently working in the country. I recall that I didn’t have much difficulty finding a place to stay at around that time of May 2023, as there were actually a number of available options. There are trusted websites and social media pages that advertise rooms for rent all throughout the year.

Getting to embark on the journey as a Trainee Educational Therapist alongside my wonderful batchmates, the training stages proved to be truly intensive, yet immensely enriching in many ways. Among the most notable aspects of the experience was receiving firsthand education about the Orton-Gillingham approach, expertly tailored to the curriculum of DAS. Exploring the intricacies of this renowned method was truly awe-inspiring, as we realised its potential to allow us to make a profound difference in the lives of those with dyslexia. Through the commitment of DAS to guide us, we get empowered. That is a testament to a genuine provider. And as I’ve mentioned to my colleagues in the centre, the atmosphere feels like home. Everybody is there to help, and I would repeatedly hear the context, “You’re not alone.”

The whole journey as an Educational Therapist continues, and we sincerely find motivation from our learners as they continue to learn despite. Our aspiration is to instil in them the essence of a growth mindset, a concept pioneered by another inspirational psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck. It’s not about avoiding difficulties or denying challenges; rather, it’s about embracing them as essential components of the learning journey. Success lies heavily on being able to develop resilience. For the capacity to still overcome – that is an idea, a resolve worth passing to our growing students, creating a ripple effect of positive change, as they strive to persist on roads of discovering their own potentials and purposes.

To explore career opportunities at the DAS, click here!