Pinnacle FAQ

Why choose Pinnacle for your student?

Pinnacle is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides direct instruction (Pinnacle School) as well as tutoring, testing, and other services (Pinnacle Learning Services) for bright students who are active visual, auditory, or hands-on learners. We specialize in teaching students with dyslexia and similar learning differences who may have struggled in a traditional school setting. Pinnacle teachers use proven approaches based on current research on the brain and learning. Our programs build from a student’s natural strengths and aptitudes to rekindle the desire to learn while developing necessary skills and strategies.

How does Pinnacle help students achieve?

Exceptional teachers who are caring and dedicated experts in their subject areas. They are also skilled at working with students with dyslexia.  These professionals work intensively with each student, communicate frequently with parents, and make recommendations for each child’s program. Teachers have weekly staff development meetings and attend national subject area and dyslexia conferences.

Strong academics combined with individualized instruction. Students work according to ability with an emphasis on mastery. Daily learning in reading, writing, and math is individualized for each student.

Hands-on learning, projects, field trips, and collaborative programs with community organizations. Concepts are reinforced by showing students how subject areas are linked.

Research-based curriculum that is aligned with state and national standards. We use Learning Models for teaching and tracking progress in reading, comprehension, and writing. Our teachers have expertise in many linguistic methods and tools, including the Orton-Gillingham approach as recommended by the International Dyslexia Association, Kurzweil, and our own methodologies.

Resources to support learning; including SMARTBoards, computers, LCD projectors, document cameras, hand-held devices for students, large wall monitors for visual learning, math manipulatives, and maker spaces.

Attention to Quality throughout our organization. Pinnacle is a provisional member of ISACS, the Independent School Association of the Central States, and is recognized by the Indiana Department of Education.

A track record of success, including significant gains in reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, and math achievement. Families receive detailed Progress Reports with written comments. Graduates go on to higher education and pursue careers in science, technology, business, the arts and more.

Why do students with dyslexia need this approach to learning?

Without multi-sensory teaching, students with dyslexia have difficulty linking information and concepts when they need it. It’s like trying to find a file on your computer desktop that is not labeled. You know it’s there, you know you have seen it, but you can’t find it. Without the correct teaching methods, most will not reach their potential. Instead of being excited about learning, and exploring their many natural gifts and talents, they often become frustrated, lose confidence, experience failure, and grow to dislike school.

What about learning how to make friends and stick up for yourself?

Leadership, social skills, and life skills development are part of our curriculum. Classroom learning and responsibilities provide daily teachable moments. Students learn to ask good questions, are held accountable for their choices, and develop responsibility.

Students spend time with other students during project classes. Many activities build in valuable opportunities to work in pairs or small groups to develop team skills. Students are also encouraged to build lifelong interests by participating in community activities.

When should my student be evaluated for dyslexia or start a program?

It is a common myth that children will often “outgrow” reading problems if they wait until 2nd or 3rd grade. It is possible to detect early indicators of dyslexia as young as age 5.  Early intervention is important! Many dyslexic children who get the appropriate teaching approach from an early age are able to learn to read fluently.  Support is critical in the primary grades between K and Grade 2.

And it’s also never too late. Some students do not realize that they are dyslexic until high school or college. Many of these students have learned to read, but still struggle with writing, spelling, reading comprehension, and sometimes math. Most are not achieving at their potential.

A new study shows that students who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time, and that disadvantaged students who fall behind by third grade are 13 times less likely to graduate with their peers. Most schools only teach reading until 3rd grade. Starting In 4th grade, students are expected to use their reading skills to learn new material. Students who struggle in reading and comprehension in traditional settings, are most likely to fail classes, standardized tests, and fall even further behind as their classmates advance.

What is the school and program atmosphere like?

Students are valued as individuals. Every adult knows and words with all of our students to help create and positive and supportive environment.

Students are taught to value their own strengths, talents, and abilities, and to work toward personal goals. Dyslexia is not seen as a disability, but as a learning difference, and in certain ways can be an advantage. Many students with processing differences have amazing visual and creative talents, a keen imagination, and excel at problem solving and thinking out of the box.

Predictable. Students with dyslexia value structure and schedules. At the same time, flexibility is important to take advantage of learning opportunities.

The Pinnacle Pledge- of respect, responsibility, and personal best guides our learning community. Everyone, including students, is treated with respect. We “tell it like it is,” and help students develop strategies to overcome challenges.

Students develop good habits. Healthy choices and lifestyle are encouraged. School is a student’s “job,” and students are expected to take work seriously. Homework should be reasonable, should be completed by the student, and is used to reinforce daily lessons.

Community Ethic. Students participate in the care of our plants and animals, run our recycling program, and work on projects that enhance the beauty and enjoyment of our community

How can families be involved?

Read with your child. Reading with your child every night is a great way to spend time together, to improve your child’s skills, and to show him or her that you value books.

Participate or volunteer to help in any of the Pinnacle special events that are held every year, including the Fall Open House, the Winter- and Spring- Entrepreneurship, and dyslexia events.

Attend Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences.

Volunteer to help with literacy activities, serve as a classroom liaison to chaperone field trips or special events or projects, or help with family fun and fitness activities.

Share your time and talents with students during after-school programs.

Support Pinnacle students and programs. All of our programs are hands-on, and require a great deal of materials, tools, and software. This is not covered by annual tuition, so we truly appreciate items, contributions, and gift cards from our Wish List.

Participate in the Build our Future Campaign.  Scholarships, materials, and facilities are all important to support all of our programs and activities.

How do families feel about Pinnacle? 

Parents are very satisfied with the programs we offer. A recent parent survey (86% response rate) was conducted that asked families to rate their student’s level of achievement and performance in eleven different areas before joining the program, and after joining the program. There was improvement in all 11 areas: reading, self-confidence, math skills, spelling, writing skills, study skills, motivation, social skills, happiness, handwriting, and desire to learn.

What kind of progress can be expected for our students? 

We complete diagnostic testing for all students who are interested in enrolling at Pinnacle. Most (95%) of the elementary students with dyslexia who complete the recommended sequence in our full-time school program have been able to make significant gains on their education plans at Pinnacle, and to maintain as successful status and GPA when transitioning to other elementary , middle, and high schools.

While the goal is to help students reach or exceed their expected grade level in core reading, writing, and math areas, we strive to maintain a balanced curriculum rather than sacrifice development in other critical subject areas. Well-rounded and creative students who can find information, think, make connections, use technology, and communicate, will be more successful in school, in careers, and in life.

Younger students, students who have not experienced prolonged failure, and students with stronger processing speeds, ability to sequence, and working memories usually make more rapid and more pronounced progress. Other factors that affect achievement include attention, reinforcement of skills by completing daily homework, and reading with an adult on a daily basis.

For example, “Billy” started at Pinnacle when he was 8 years old. He had been in 2nd grade at his former school, but was reading below 1st grade level, and was going to be held back. His mom described his handwriting as “terrible!” After 6 months at Pinnacle his reading level had already started to improve. Not only that, his confidence was much better, and he no longer believed he was “dumb.” After a year, he was able to read books at his grade level, and is working on his spelling and writing.

Pinnacle will be working with our MCCSC partner educators to monitor progress of students with dyslexia as part of the new Monroe County Literacy Continuum.

What happens after Pinnacle? 

Pinnacle has been helping bright but struggling students become more confident and successful learners for over 34 years.  Pinnacle helps students gain confidence, perseverance, and learn how to learn. They figure out how to stick up for themselves, to ask questions, and to be their own advocates. They form friendships. Like our mascot, the pachyderm, they learn how to be thicker-skinned, to work hard, to work with others, and most importantly, to take advantage of their talents, creativity, and strengths.

The strategies, tools, and study techniques that they develop and practice at Pinnacle can be applied to find success in other settings – other schools, colleges, work, and life.