Lakshman and Raman are twin brothers, sometimes only distinguishable by marks made in their foreheads by their father when they were babies so he could tell them apart. Both are now graduating tenth graders who hope to continue their education rather than immediately being put into the work force. Like many at Pathway, they are the first generation in their family to receive education. Both boys are energetic and lively, always willing to volunteer for assignments. Lakshman is a jokester, while Raman is a little more serious. Both are cooperative and easy going by nature. Their cheerfulness and good humor will certainly be missed as they leave Pathway.
It was autumn, the ideal season to visit Utah, when the leaves of the trees in the mountain reach their brilliant best. This was the time that the Prasads, a year and half ago, were introduced to “Reading Horizons.” It was a momentous occasion that prepared the foundation for a lasting relationship between Pathway and Reading Horizons (RH). Pathway directors had the opportunity to meet Tyson Smith, President, and Heidi Hyte, Curriculum & ESL Director of RH. It was a great experience in the fall of 2012 for Prasads and Dosdalls, who were given a bird’s eye view of this unique methodology of systematically teaching English reading. Prasads were impressed by the way Heidi Hyte expounded the salient aspects of pronunciation and spelling of words in the English language. They realized the impact that this can have on children at Pathway, knowing very well the importance of speaking and reading English. In response to their invitation, Tyson Smith and Heidi Hyte readily agreed to help children of Pamela Martinez Matriculation School, Agili, by sharing their well-developed software and instructional material. They also accepted the invitation to visit Pathway. The visit recently became a reality as Sudha Subramaniam and Heidi Hyte worked out the details.
The RH team, comprised of Tyson Smith and Angie Smith (on left), Heidi Hyte and Alisha Thomas (on right), was recently received with love and a traditional Indian welcome by Dhuli Patniak, Sudha Subramaniam, Chandra and Dr. Prasad (center, left to right). They spent considerable time meeting children and staff at the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and also witnessed the work done by the Sabin Centre for the Disabled, the vocational and production centres, the medical unit, dormitories for children, etc.
Heidi Hyte conducted a short training programme for teachers and senior students of the school. This was followed by a grand display of ethnic Indian dances and the singing of hymns by the children.
One of the highlights of the visit was a workshop presented and organized by Pathway at Chennai. This well-attended workshop had the participation of several English teachers and scholars from various schools and institutions. In his welcome address, founder-director of Pathway, Dr. Prasad, introduced the chief guest, Professor M S Swaminathan, Emeritus Chairman, MSSRF, describing him as an icon in the field of plant genetics and the father of the green revolution in India, explaining that Professor Swaminathan was the recipient of the World Food Prize and had been highly decorated by the grateful government of India and named by “Time” magazine as one the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century.
Prasad explained briefly about Reading Horizons and introduced Tyson Smith, President, who said that he had worked with thousands of educators across of the world to bring about improvements in literacy in children. He described Heidi Hyte, curriculum & ESL director, as a highly qualified, “live-wire” teacher and said that she had conducted training programmes in many parts of the world. He also introduced Alisha Thomas, general manager, and Angie Smith, his wife.
All the guests were honoured with traditional shawls, garlands and mementos made by the children of Pathway and Sabin Centre, by Chandra Prasad, Sudha Subramaniam and Dhuli Patnaik.
Heidi Hyte conducted a highly-absorbing workshop where she described the methods of teaching reading, consisting of explicit, systematic, sequential instruction in decoding, spelling, and pronunciation strategies. Great insights were shown in the multi-sensory approach of teaching English to non-native speakers. Heidi Hyte said of her visit to Pathway, “The Reading Horizons team thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the Pathway campuses. The children are very special. There is an unparalleled feeling of mutual respect between the students and the staff. The children are happy. The teachers are happy. The students and staff alike are productive, contributing individuals. I am inspired by Pathway and all that it offers students to help them experience an excellent quality of life—a quality of life in which they feel loved, respected, cared for, and safe…a quality of life which provides them with opportunities to learn how to contribute using their knowledge and talents. I am confident that those who have the privilege of interacting with the students and staff at Pathway, as well as those who contribute to Pathway’s efforts in other valuable ways, find their experience to be mutually beneficial.”
The RH team visited Pathway, Chennai and witnessed the work done at this facility for the disabled children and adults. Tyson Smith and Heidi Hyte promised to maintain a lasting relationship with Pathway.