Norma Dyck, a Lawrence resident and professor at Kansas State University, recently was named Outstanding Professional of the Year by the Learning Disabilities Assn. of Kansas.
Dyck, a professor of special education, trains teachers to work with learning disabled students in public schools. Learning disabled students are not mentally retarded but have difficulty in certain academic subjects, commonly reading and math.
Dyck said the practice of pulling such students out of the regular classroom to receive special instruction is giving way to a new teaching approach.
"Now schools are trying to keep them in the classroom with their peers all day and have special education teachers visit them," she said. "As a consequence of that, I have become involved in consultation and collaboration skills."
DYCK IS co-authoring a textbook on that subject with two other KSU professors.
"My particular interest is trying to look at ways of setting up the classroom so learning disabled children can function in the traditional arrangement," she said.
Dyck said one way to do that is to provide instructional materials with a difficulty level suitable for learning disabled students. She also is looking at ways that learning disabled children can get help from other students, such as through peer tutoring.
"The majority of these youngsters have reading problems, but they're able to understand something fine if someone reads it to them, and at least they'll get the content," Dyck said.
Of course, she added, it is important to help learning disabled students develop their own reading skills.
DYCK EARNED her doctorate in reading and learning disabilities from Kansas University in 1972. She worked at KU before moving to KSU in 1976.
Dyck is a former president of the Learning Disabilities Assn. of Kansas and has served on the group's professional advisory board for several years.
Ela Shacklett, current president of the association, said of Dyck, "She's a very caring teacher and friend, a hard worker, and she gives of herself a great deal to other people."
The association is made up of professionals in the field and parents of children with learning disabilities. Representatives of both groups took part in selecting Dyck for the award.
"It's a special honor for me because parents are part of the group," Dyck said.