Pinnacle School began as the Bloomington dePaul School in 1981, about 34 years ago. We are one of only two schools in Indiana that focus on teaching students with dyslexia. The current program has maintained its strong roots through a structured, multi-sensory approach to language arts and other subjects. Dyslexia is officially considered to be a language-based SLD (specific learning disability), but it impacts the way a student is “wired” and learns in every subject area.
The original program was organized as a Saturday School by Dorothy Soudakoff, modeled after the dePaul School in Louisville, Kentucky. Parents were trained as tutors in the Shedd method and dePaul Structured Linguistics. One of Dorothy’s grandchildren is still currently enrolled as a student! Connie Giles has been with the program since it became a full-time school.
In July 2004, when Dr. Lessow became the Executive Director, the school was housed in about 3,000 square feet of rented “multi-purpose” space at St. Thomas Lutheran Church. Then known as the Bloomington DePaul School, there were three teachers, a part-time director, and 26 students in grades 1-8.
Renamed Pinnacle School in 2004, classes were held at the new 2nd Street where we had over 12,000 square feet in the main building (Dvorak Education Center) and a total parcel size of 1.8 acres. At the end of the 2005-06 academic year, Pinnacle had 55 students enrolled, with a full-time director, office manager, six full-time teachers, and several part-time teaching staff. Both Kindergarten and high school classes were added during this time period.
In November, 2009, Pinnacle purchased property and relocated to a 7-acre site on W. Arlington Road, with plans for future development of the facilities and learning services. However, with growing demand for our programs and services, in Spring 2012 we decided it would be more cost-effective to find a larger facility rather than constructing additional classroom space at Arlington Road.
Because of growing demand for services, in July 2012, Pinnacle relocated to 2182 W. Industrial Park Drive, just west of the Vernal Pike and I-37 intersection. The new facilities tripled the classroom/office space to over 30,000 square feet in four different buildings, and multiple classrooms designed to support hands-on teaching and learning. The campus was ideal to support outdoor education and science activities. MindSCAPES, the STEM lab, was a site for students to develop the problem solving and creative parts of the brain through the sciences, technology, arts, and design. Recent studies show that 35% of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic or have ADD or ADHD. We wanted to do our part to strengthen those natural talents and interests.
The Pinnacle team has developed strengths in teaching, facilities management, and administration. Every member of our teaching staff brings unique talents and strengths to educating our students and working with our families. They use their time in and out of the classroom to plan, teach, learn, assess, respond and communicate in ways that best meet their students’ needs. For more information about the Pinnacle Team, please see our Staff Biographies.
Dr. Lessow worked with Senator Rod Bray, Representation Woody Burton, and Cheryl Clemens from Decoding Dyslexia Indiana, and many other supporters to help build support for HB1108. For the first time, Indiana has dyslexia legislation. This has given Pinnacle the opportunity to pursue additional collaborative partnerships.
Pinnacle works to help individuals with dyslexia learn, innovate, and succeed. We do this through direct instruction, supplemental tutoring services, diagnostic testing, and the development of customized learning materials. Pinnacle also provides professional development for teachers and schools, along with community outreach projects and programs.
New in Fall 2015 is the Pinnacle STEM School for students in grades 3 through 8. This program builds on Pinnacle School’s success with science, technology, entrepreneurship, and math. Our faculty members have expertise in The Pinnacle Method to help students with dyslexia develop the tools and strategies to learn to read, spell, comprehend text, and write. Students will have daily opportunities to develop needed skills, and to reinforce these through practice and application. We work to build on the innate talents and interests of our students. Students progress at the pace that is right for them. For example, they may join a more advanced math class when they are ready to do so. Challenging students in a variety of subject areas and providing a range of experiences allows them the opportunity to develop in all of Gardner’s eight intelligences using an innovation school model.
Pinnacle Learning Services provides supplemental tutoring to students attending local K – 12 public and private schools. We also offer training and support to college students to improve their reading skills, for the use of assistive technologies like Kurzweil and Dragon Naturally Speaking, and with subject-specific assistance.
The Testing Center offers affordable diagnostic assessments for learning difficulties from ages 5 through 24. Achievement testing is now available as an addition to the Core Battery.
The Monroe County Literacy Continuum is a new collaboration between Pinnacle and MCCSC. Pinnacle will consult with MCCSC to provide professional development for K – 12 teachers to better serve the approximately 80 Pinnacle students who will be transitioning to MCCSC, as well as students with dyslexia who are already attending MCCSC.
Pinnacle engages in other outreach projects and programs with local and regional partners to build dyslexia awareness, provide dyslexia services, and to build awareness of effective education approaches.