Phandoria Walls Runner-Up for National Student Award

The following article was originally published in the Fall 2005 issue of the Association for Direct Instruction's Direct Instruction News. [1]

Picture of Phandoria Walls

Wayne Carnine Student Improvement Award

The Wayne Carnine Student Improvement award exists to honor students who have made exceptional gains as the result of being taught by Direct Instruction programs and teachers. As the stories of this year's recipients show, the academic gains that students realize often coincide with behavioral improvement as well as improved self-esteem and confidence. Jaime Rivera received a $200 cash prize as the winner this year, and Phandoria Walls received $100 as runner up...

Phandoria Walls

Phandoria Walls is from Collington Square School in Baltimore, Maryland. She was nominated by the Curriculum Coordinator at Collington Square, Brenda Kahn. Brenda wrote the following words about Phandoria and her achievement.

" Just when one becomes complacent with the power of the Direct Instruction curriculum, you encounteryet another student for whom this program is the key to their learning how to read. This year, I received a reminder on what is possible when you combine a superb curriculum with excellent teaching.

"Phandoria Walls entered Collington Square in late November of this school year. She was assigned to a third-grade homeroom, but chronologically belonged in fifth grade, and she was essentially a nonreader. Phandoria owned just a few sight words, and placement testing suggested a Decoding A group. She was far below any other student in the school. Seven years into our implementation, we did not have any other students requiring Decoding A nor did we have a spare teacher to form a new group.

"Someone had the very unconventional idea of sending Phandoria to work with kindergarten students as a 'special helper.' The idea was to have Phandoria receive Reading Mastery Iinstruction in a non-threatening and hopefully self-esteem building manner. A very gifted Direct Instruction kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Scott, provided the much needed instruction. Even more important than the instruction, Mrs. Scott provided an environment where Phandoria felt valued and important.

"Quite surprisingly, Phandoria was able to provide real assistance in handwriting to the kindergarteners while she learned how to read. The placement in the kindergarten classroom, though unconventional, proved to be exactly what she needed. In just 2 months, she made tremendous progress and was able to leave the kindergarten group and move ahead to Reading Mastery II.

"Phandoria has continued to steadily improve and has entered Reading Master III as a strong, fluent reader. The unorthodox placement would not have worked without the talents of Mrs. Scott and the efforts of Phandoria.

"Phandoria has striven to learn how to read, and throughout this school year, she has worked harder than any other student at Collington Square. In less than one school year, she has achieve three years of growth in reading. She entered our school feeling that she was stupid and that she would never learn how to read. She now believes that she is smart and that there is indeed nothing wrong with her (nor was there ever anything wrong with her). Watching Phandoria learn how to read and become a student has once again affirmed in my mind the power of Direct Instruction."


[1] Griffin, A. (2005). 2005 ADI Excellence in Education Awards. Direct Instruction News. Eugene, OR: Association for Direct Instruction, (5)3,