Blueprint Learning
Call us at (203) 687-8751

Student Testimonials

Biographies of present and former students

Chris Bartolomei

My name is Chris Bartolomei. I was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and I am now 16 years old. When I was four, I moved to Texas. I am from a family of five siblings, two brothers and two sisters. My older brother and sister are in college. Being the middle child kind of sucks because I have two people telling me what to do, and two people who do not listen to me.

I have been to nine different schools in my lifetime. The reason being, my parents wanted to find the perfect school that would help me. When I was in first grade, my parents noticed that I had trouble grasping the concept of addition and subtraction. I did not understand the difference between them, and I would spend hours on my homework and get very frustrated to the point where my parents had to tell me the answers. I remember not understanding the difference between right and left. It turned out I had dyslexia.

They did not want me to stay in the school I was at, so they sent me to two different schools, Shelton, and Hill school. These schools were a special school designed for kids with learning disabilities. I was in Shelton for about a year and a half. And then I moved to Hill school. My parents felt these schools were not a good fit for me. I was then sent to a private school.

For the next two and a half years (6-half of 8th grade) I was at Holy Trinity Catholic school. I struggled a lot because I did not have a solid learning foundation from my previous schools. I continued to fight with math and reading. I felt especially discouraged because my other siblings were getting better grades than me and I was barely passing classes. At this school, we were required to read fifty books in one school year. I was only able to read 15, while everybody else in my grade got passed fifty books. Halfway through my eighth-grade year, my parents told me that there was a school in NY that can help me with my dyslexia, but it was a boarding school and I would have to live there without them. After a lot of thinking, I decided to go.

In the beginning, it was hard being alone at Kildonan. I grew very homesick and thought many times about moving back to Texas, but I knew that it was worth staying. I knew that this school would help me with my dyslexia, and it did. Eventually, after a month, I made some good friends and school got a lot easier for me. I was taught many different skills and I found out that I enjoyed writing. And for the first time in my life, I liked school. Math was the only class I struggled in, for whatever reason I just did not understand the concept.My parents decided to bring me home to Texas.

My sophomore year, I was sent to yet another school like Hill, and Shelton. I immediately hated the school, not only because it was in a ware house on the side of a highway, but because there were no extracurricular activities, and it was very different from Kildonan. I worked very hard in this schoo.l I did Algebra one, and on the weekends, I would work 6 hours on geometry and I ended up finishing that class in half a year.

The second half of my sophomore year, I went to Nolan Catholic High School, where I thought I would stay. It was not like my other schools. The academics were very challenging, and I had a hard time adapting. The only reason I passed my classes was because there was a class called study skills that helped kids with learning problems. They helped me with organization and studying. By this time, I had been to eight different schools.  I did not know if it was worth even trying anymore, but I just decided to get through it. I remember my brother telling me to try harder but I did not know how to because I thought I was doing the best I could. At the end of sophomore year, I managed to pull through with B’s and C’s.

My Junior year, I moved to Madison CT because my Dad got a job in New Haven. I attend Xavier High school, and I see Mrs. Tweed every Monday though Thursday. She helps me study, and understand the material I am reading in class on two days of the week and the other two days I work with her learning to read and write using th Orton-Gillingham approach. Although it is difficult adjusting to another new school, I do feel like this year I am trying a lot harder and learning the rules for reading and spelling.

I had to make many difficult decisions throughout my life, and by going to all these schools, I learned how to adapt to change, which is a good skill to have. I also learned that difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling can all be resolved with strategies. I am learning those strategies now. I believe dyslexia can be helped but not fully cured, and being taught the right way is very important for people like us.

Tim Cheng

Well hello there, my name is Tim. I love constructing and deconstructing all sorts of things you use in daily life, from computers to cars, just about everything interests me. Because of this curiosity, I will be pursuing a career in engineering. Engineering is a tough industry; the education alone requires more effort than many other schools of study. Nevertheless, this fazes me minimally, because as a high schooler I worked diligently, graduating with a ~90% average grade. Even as a high school graduate with a decent SAT score (1440), I felt the need to enlarge my experiences and transcript before heading off for a four-year degree. This has lead me to take an educational gap year between secondary and full time post-secondary studies, consisting of two university courses each semester and an APEnglish class. Because I was homeschooled, accredited courses and tests are greatly beneficial in college applications.

So far, my academic life hasn’t been without struggles. A large factor has been my Dyslexia. Forcing me to spend extra time on almost everything I do. Any class involving reading or writing, means devoting twice as much time on homework compared to regular students. Even with this setback, I managed to get good grades, allowing for opportunities to pursue higher education. As of now, I have applied to some of the top engineering programs at Universities in Canada, such as the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. An application doesn’t mean I will get in, but I truly believe there is a good chance I will. Although I have and will have many struggles, I have and will succeed.


Maximilian Kessler

I was born in New York but raised in Killingworth, CT. I grew up homeschooled and had a ton of trouble reading and writing when I was younger. My parents assumed the reason I had trouble with spelling was because I mispronounced many words. They hired a speech therapist for me but even after going through that for about a year I still had really bad pronunciation. To this day, I cannot say the word four or distinguish between shorts and shirts. Also, I am taking Latin in high school and butcher every pronunciation.

Even though my pronunciation improved, if be it slightly, my spelling did not. That was when my mom began teaching me using this special program. I do not remember seeing much improvement even though we did it for over a year. That is not to say I did not improve but the rate at which I learned only increased slightly. However, even though I did not read books my older brother got me into audio books which is probably the reason that my reading comprehension is still my greatest strength in the SAT.

My mom suspected I had dyslexia for a little while and then got me tested which confirmed it. After that, she began looking for tutors. Luckily when I was 12 we found Mrs. Tweed and I started going for help three time a week. I remember seeing a lot of improvement very quickly however, I was still trying to catch up to my grade level. I was discouraged at the time because even though I was improving my sister who was four years younger than me began to read books much harder than the ones I read. However, I kept at it and finally started to see a lot of improvement. I remember having gone to Mrs. Tweed’s for about five months and trying to read one of my older brothers favorite books. It took 30 minutes to read two pages. A year later I tried again to read that book and finished it in two days.

At the end of my last summer with Mrs. Tweed I got officially tested and I legally became dyslexic. That next September I went to Xavier High School in Middletown. I took the entrance exam and was placed in accelerated classes. I worked hard freshman year and finished with an A average. In the beginning of the year I continued to go to Mrs. Tweeds. She said I was able to go to school without her help but we wanted to make sure I didn't need her anymore. Once we saw that she had taught me enough reading and writing to get through High School I stopped going. I told all my teachers at the beginning of the year that I had dyslexia and they all were very understanding of it. I could take extra time if I needed it and they would not penalize me for misspelling words in in class essays. However, my literature teacher suggested that I might want to move down but I did not and finished with an A in his class.

The next year school got a little harder, I was in all honors classes and I had decided to take two math classes, Geometry and Algebra II. I got use to the homework load and made it through the year with a slightly lower average. This year I am taking A.P U.S History, A.P Chemistry and  A.P Literature (Thanks Mrs. Tweed). This year has been a lot more wors so far but no where near impossible to keep a good average. The key is to just put the work in.


Audrey Rickman

Hello! My name is Audrey Rickman and I’m a senior at Guilford High School. I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was seven, but the symptoms were there for as long as I was in the school system. I trained with Mrs. Tweed at Bluebrint Learning for about six years ,receiving tutoring before or after school. I had to work twice as hard as normal kids, but it was more then worth it in the end. I remember thinking that I would be the only kid to never be able to read, write, and spell. When Mrs. Tweed asked if would be willing to be part of a group of students who would help communicate what it is like to be dyslexic to families and kids struggling with dyslexia, I was glad to help. I wanted to help others go through the same thing I went through, I knew how important this could be. I know it seems impossible now, but I promise that if I did it, you or your child can do it too. As of right now, I want to study English/Writing in college, (oh the irony). I am in AP Literature and Composition and AP Studio Portfolio in my high school. I am participate on the crew team and am a member in my school's literary magazine called Muses. I’m here to answer any questions from personal experience that you may. Feel free to ask anything!


Below are personal opinion pieces each of the students have written on various topics concerning dyslexia. Our first topic in group discussion was on "TIME". Each of the students penned their thoughts.

Max on the subject of 'Time'

Dyslexia can affect more than just reading and writing but really anything that involves numerals. For instance, reading an old fashion clock (non-digital) can be difficult. One Easter morning I discovered this difficulty first hand.

Every year my cousins stay at my family's house for Easter. My father and uncles would  hide our Easter baskets the night before. As young kids, I and one of my cousins could not wait to start looking for our Easter baskets making it difficult to sleep. Time seemed to drag on forever; finally we thought sufficient time had passed for us to start looking. However, because we did not have a clock in our room, I ventured out into the hall to check the time. I came back and told my cousin that it wasalmost 6:30. This was still pretty early but not unreasonable so we went down stairs and started to look around for our baskets. Next, we heard someone coming down the stairs, it was my aunt who asked us why we were up at 4:30 in the morning. We went back to bed but could not sleep because we were wide awake. I was sure it was almost 6:30. Telling time cost me. The next day I crashed hard after 2:00 p.m.


Tim on the subject of 'Time'

Every project and every homework assignment has a deadline. These deadlines are all supposed to be achievable for students, or at least doable for normal students who put effort into their work. I am not normal; many of my assignments take upwards of twice as long as others who are “normal”. This could partially be due to my procrastinational tendencies, but more often than not, I find myself slower in some areas, such as reading and writing, when simultaneously compared to classmates who are working on identical coursework. I am not unintelligent, and will never claim to be smart, but the time I need can be very limiting and self-degrading. One paper turns into two, a weekend of free time turns to just an evening. I cannot control time, it slows for no one. We all have the same amount of time,but I have less.


Audrey on the subject of 'Time'

The word “slow” is often associated with being stupid so I think that’s where the idea first popped into my head. I remember looking around at my peers as early as kindergarten and thinking, “How are they already done? Why am I so far behind? What’s wrong with me?” Out of all of the symptoms of dyslexia, time has certainly affected me the most. Not only does it take longer for dyslexics to perform tasks in the area of reading and writing, but I often find that processing information in general just takes longer. This continues to be what I am most self conscious about.

 Any sort of project, essay, worksheet, or assignment of any kind took me twice as much time as everyone else. My 5th grade math class was the bane of my existence. I remember doing a word problem in class one day. Everyone finished in a couple of minutes and bragging how easy it was. I, on the other hand, was staring at the small paragraph like it was written in a different language. It might as well have been. When you get embarrassed or nervous, the symptoms of dyselxia just get worse. All the lines on the page seemed warped and blurred together. I remember thinking that it looked like a colony of ants zig zagging all over my page. Well, as you can image, “ants” was not an appropriate response when called upon. My teacher was livid at the, “zero effort I put into her class”, and the fact that, “I, personally, was holding the entire class back”.

Just like every symptom of dyslexia, if you work hard and practice, timing will become less and less of a problem, but it never goes away completely. Even now, timing is still a prevalent problem for me. Just the other day I got honked at because it took me a while to remember which way was left when I was turning at an intersection. I have learned tricks to compensate for this over the years, but I am very much still learning and practicing today. I know it’s hard to believe, especially when you’re a kid and the “dyslexia wound” is still fresh, but dyslexia really isn’t a “disability”. The way we do and learn things in the world is just coded in a way that our brains don’t naturally understand, but that does not mean that dyslexics are stupid or lesser than people without it. And as I get older and more confident, I often find that taking your time on things has a lot of benefits. I am meticulous when it comes to projects and essays so there are rarely mistakes or sloppiness. Also, when I do learn something, I almost never forget it.


Chris on the subject of 'Time'

As a dyslexic I am constantly struggling with reading, writing and other stuff but one of the other things I struggle with oddly enough is telling time. I often find myself staring at a clock wondering what I’m looking at. It’s not that I don’t understand the concept of time, I just get confused by all the numbers and the counting and reading that is done when telling time.

I remember once I woke up and looked at the clock and it read 6:20 Which happens to be the time I should be getting ready but for some reason I went back to sleep because I thought school started at 7:20. At the time I thought I was making the right decision until my mom burst into my room screaming at me to get up. I had never gotten out of bed that fast in my life.


Student's thoughts on 'Switching it Up'

Audrey on the subject of 'Switching it Up'

Looking back, I think the hardest thing about dyslexia is "switching" things around. I remember being called aside by my kindergarten teacher because she wanted to know what I meant when I wrote, “I have a god named Clara,” in my notebook. Unfortunately for me, not all of these mistakes were as harmless. I thought Audrey must be an uncommon name because everyone called me Aubrey, a huge irritant to me. Little did I know that it was my own fault. I had switched my d’s and b’s on almost every name tag, homework sheet, etc, calling byself Aubrey.

Switching my letters around used to be a huge problem for me. It was one of the main reasons that dyslexia always seemed to be on my mind because it doesn't only involve school related things. Digital clocks are my nemesis. The 6’s and 9’s as well as the 5’s and the 2’s’ look exactly the same to me so I was often late or unprepared for various occasions. Once, I actually almost got on the wrong bus because the numbers were the same digital clock style,Is it bus 42 or 24?  My best friend dragged me off the bus before I t took a ride to the opposite side of town.

However, like all of the symptoms of dyslexia, they have mostly faded to the background of my life. Not to say that dyslexia can ever “go away”. It’s not some kind of diseas. It's the way our brain works.I will always see things through the lens of dyslexia.The best advice I could give you is don’t take it so seriously. Just the other day I sent a text to a physics project group chat that said “weight guys…...”. And they were all besides themselves with the “pun” I had made. Meanwhile I had to read the text over three times before I realized what they were talking about. Get it? I wrote "weight" nstead of "wait" in the text. My friends thought I was really funny and smart. In middle school, I probably would have hung my head in shame while sending an awkward explanation that I was an idiot who didn't know the difference between wait and weight, but now, I was able to just laugh along with them, even if we weren't laughing for the same reason.


Max's thoughts on 'Switching it Up'

The most common belief of what it is like to be dyslexic comes from the Percy Jackson movies. In a few scenes it shows him trying to read something while all the letters dance around on the page. In my experience this is not at all what it is like to be dyslexic. The most common thing that happens to me as a dyslexic is mixing letters up e, i, b and d.

The constant mixing of these letters up occurs most frequently when one is pressed for time as in the case for an in class essay. It is incredibly frustrating when you are trying to finish an essay before the time runs out and you keep wondering if it is before or defore. Also the b and d mix up can be especially detrimental during a scantron test (that is why you should always double check your answers). However this habit of switching things up in your head is not limited to only letters. I often write my fives and twos backwards and I used to have a lot of trouble with remembering right from left.

Mixing up right and left is not uncommon for most people however, most people figure it out at an early age. When I was 10 years old I still had to point to the side I meant. My dad told me the way he remembered right from left was by picturing himself walking on the street and knowing that his friends house was on the right of him. This didn't really help me because I could never remember which way I was walking on the street (there or back). My mom told me the way she remembered was by doing the pledge of allegiance (the pledge of allegiance is done with the right hand) however, I was home schooled and very rarely did the pledge of allegiance. Another common piece of advice was to hold up your hand and make an L and whichever hand made the L was your left hand. This did not work for me because I could never remember if it was J or L. For these reasons I dealt with not knowing left from right for a long time. Finally, when I started taking martial arts I figured out a trick that worked for me. We did a lot of punching in the class so now all I have to do to remember what hand is my right is to think of which hand I would punch with first. 

People do not realise this but dyslexia can affect things outside of just reading and writing. These simple mix ups can be really annoying for example you get on bus number #6 instead of your bus home, # 9 and end up in Portland . Then there is the time you tell your brother to turn right when the only options are straight and left. Feeling embarrassed, I recall when the driving instructor sayed take a right up here and I went left. You can get annoyed at these things or you can simply accept them, laugh it off, and try really hard not to mix up b’s and d’s during the SAT.


Chris' thoughts on 'Switching it Up'

Most people think that dyslexia is specifically mixing up letters and not being able to read, which is slightly false. What they may not know is that a common symptom of dyslexia is not knowing the difference between left and right. I happen to be one of the lucky people who get confused with this supposedly simple concept. Whenever I go on a car ride with my siblings or parents I am asked to sit specifically in the back because navigating roads is not my strong suits.

People try to give me tips, for example, "wear a bracelet on your dominant hand", or "what hand would you punch someone with?", surprisingly, it hasn't helped much. When I am driving to an unknown location with, my unlucky passenger who tells me to take a left, I often do the opposite without realizing I made the mistake. I plan on extra time to get places.

I don’t only switch up  my left and right, I also switch letters in words, omit letters, or even mix up words In a sentence. There was one time where I started righting a paragraph and I had the whole thing planned out but for whatever reason I started the paragraph with the conclusion and it wasn’t until halfway through the paragraph that I realized what I had done. Looking back I had switched the order of my thoughts. I am learning now how to organize my thoughts in writing by reading, retelling outloud over and over and then writing. I am learning more about myself through instruction and look forward to the time that I switch things less.