Steamboat Reading expands with move to new space
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It all started when Kim Shulz encountered a student she just could not teach to read.
Despite her experience and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in literacy, nothing she tried worked.
“I felt like I was failing him,” Shulz said.
She knew he wasn’t failing — he just needed a different approach.
That’s when she discovered Orton-Gillingham, a method combining multi-sensory techniques with a structured, systematic way to teach the English language. It is beneficial for children with dyslexia, as well as all learners.
About four years ago, Shulz turned that revelation and her subsequent training into Steamboat Reading, a tutoring business with a mission to “create a community of support for struggling readers and their families.”
Last month, Shulz and co-founder Beth Melton moved into their own office at 100 Park Ave. after outgrowing their space at the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center at Colorado Mountain College.
Shulz called the Entrepreneurship Center a huge contributor to the start and growth of their business. And there was a lot for her to learn on the business side of things, she noted.
“Our incubator offices are a great option for new businesses unsure of their growth potential,” said Entrepreneurship Center Manager Randy Rudasics. “It is wonderful to see businesses graduate to market rate office space in town once their future is more certain.”
When things became overwhelming at times, Shulz said she was sustained by positive results in her students. Some of the best feedback she can get is when parents report that their children who were struggling to read are now excited about reading and take the initiative to read on their own.
In addition to it being necessary to function in daily life, Shulz said, “reading allows us to explore other places, connect with characters, real or imagined, and their stories, and learn about any topic of our choosing.”
Last week, seated at a brand new round table in the three-room office with blue walls, Shulz worked with 9-year-old Oliver Hill.
They started with sounds. Oliver put his head down on the table to focus on solely listening.
“Say ‘great’ but don’t say the ‘rrr,’” Shulz instructed. “Say ‘sleak’ but don’t say the ‘l’.”
Then they went on to flash cards, which also incorporated tracing letters on the table and identifying where within words they fit.
Oliver, who has been working with Shulz for four years, said their time together helped him “figure out a lot of different things.” On top of that, it’s fun he said, with lots of games.
Oliver said he enjoys reading, but he really likes writing. He proudly handed over a journal containing three new chapters of his story involving crystals, wizards and other dimensions.
On writing, Shulz found that kids have great ideas but often struggle with structure and turning their ideas into something cohesive on the page. She also found a need for additional help with skills like planning, organizing and time management.
Based on those observations, Steamboat Reading will for the first time offer three summer workshops. Two focus on “Writing and Executive Functioning Skills” for different ages in fourth to eighth grades, and one covers “Early Literacy Skills” for first- and second-graders.
With the move to a new location, Steamboat Reading will also expand year-round services beyond one-on-one tutoring.
Now, Shulz offers assessments, which she said can be beneficial for students who don’t necessarily qualify for an IEP or individualized education program. Steamboat Reading also provides advocacy services to help parents develop goals and collaborate with schools.
Looking forward, Shulz would like to turn Steamboat Reading into a nonprofit, and she’s already working on raising scholarship funds. She doesn’t want any student not to be able to enroll due to financial reasons.
For more information go to steamboatreading.org.
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Freshman Xavier Knott loves going to school at Steamboat Springs High School.