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2020 Annual ALTA Conference Program

After much thought and discussion, ALTA has decided to cancel the in person conference in Colorado Springs postponed for September 2020. Due to the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will affect travel, school schedules, and teachers we feel it is best to alleviate some of the burdens regarding travel for those who were contemplating attendance. Any registrations already received will have the option to request a full refund by contacting office@altaread.org.

We realize many of you rely on the annual conference for CEUs as well as expanding your knowledge in the area of dyslexia. We are exploring additional options to bring this conference to you virtually. More information and updates regarding this change will be shared soon.

In April 2021 we will see you in Arkansas.  The following year, April 2022 will be in Colorado Springs.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this unprecedented time.

Conference Schedule: UPDATES COMING SOON


Lydia H. Soifer, Ph.D., CCC/SLP - Reading is Language, Too! - The Oral (and Aural) Foundations of Literacy

Dr. Soifer is a language pathologist with over 45years of experience in clinical and private practice, as well as university teaching.  For its highly respected and valued 25-year tenure, Dr. Soifer was the founder and director of The Soifer Center for Learning and Child Development, which was the first multidisciplinary private diagnostic and remedial setting established in Westchester County.  Dr. Soifer continues to provide educational consultation and advocacy services to families on behalf of their children, in coordination with other professionals and schools. As a parent educator, teacher trainer, and staff developer, she specializes in the role of language in the development of children's learning, literacy, behavior, and social-emotional development. Classroom Language Dynamics ©, the teacher training program Dr. Soifer designed is used in a variety of school settings to empower teachers and invigorate learners of all kinds.  A frequent presenter at local and national conferences, Dr. Soifer focuses on guiding all educational professionals to answer the essential question, “Who is this child?” She is also the author of a chapter entitled, The Development of Oral Language and its Relationship to Literacy for a textbook published by Brookes, Multisensory Structured Language Teaching: Theory and Practice, now published in its 4th edition, as well as a contributor to local publications. Additionally, she is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and faculty member in the Early Intervention Training Institute (EITI), both at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


Babies start learning to read the moment they are born. Reading and writing skills are built on a foundation of the amazing complexity of understanding and use of the sounds, words, sentences, and intentions of the language to which we are exposed. While understanding and speaking are generally automatic and natural ways of engaging with language, as a rule reading and writing must be directly taught.  Insights into the ways in which the components of aural/oral language contribute to the development and achievement of literacy will be presented. Participants will learn how each aspect of language is related to literacy on the oral-written continuum, as well as where the differences lie, and how the language teachers use influences student learning.

Jackie Valadez, Ph.D., LDT, CALT-QI - Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, and Handwriting

Jacqueline Valadez, Ph.D., LDT, CALT-QI has worked in the field of education for over 30 years, beginning her career teaching struggling learners as a Transitional 1st gr. teacher.  Those first years of teaching students with learning differences, specifically in reading and writing, helped shape her lifelong passion for teaching, learning and literacy.

Dr. Valadez has served in education in numerous capacities. After an initial decade of teaching children in public schools, her desire to help prepare future teachers led to a career in academia as Professor, Director and Faculty Supervisor, teaching at the University of Notre Dame in Southbend, IN and at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX where she was awarded the Distinguished Faculty, Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. Valadez and her husband, Frank, have three children, each with their own unique gifts and talents.  It was the birth of their youngest child born with Down Syndrome who opened up a front seat view into the world of special education.  This ignited a personal dedication to understanding how ALL children learn and specifically how they develop language to communicate, read, and write.  With a passion for inclusive education, this led to developing and teaching a highly successful graduate course,  Effective Teaching Practices for the Learning Disabled, at the University of Notre Dame in the Teaching Exceptional Children program. 

In Private Practice, Dr. Valadez recognized a gap in services for students identified with dyslexia and dysgraphia, leading her to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist and returning to public schools where she continues to provide dyslexia therapy, conducts evaluations, and offers a variety of professional development in dyslexia and dysgraphia characteristics, instructional implications, and classroom strategies and accommodations.  She is President of the Texas Dyslexia Center, LLC and teaches therapists in training as a Qualified Instructor at the Scottish Rite Learning Center of South Texas.

Dr. Valadez received a B.S. and M.Ed. from Texas State University in San Marcos, TX and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She is a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist in Texas and holds several certifications, including Principal, Special Education EC-12, Reading Specialist PreK-12, and Elementary Education, Reading 1-8.

Dr. Valadez serves on the ALTA Board of Directors and is on the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Accreditation Commission as Commissioner at Large, providing assistance to the TCCB-Education Department who oversees the accreditation of Catholic Elementary and Secondary schools of Texas.  She has conducted numerous professional development presentations for private and public schools, districts, and professional organizations across the nation.

Lynne Fitzhugh, Ph.D., CALT-QI , Rebecca Thompson, and Mike Pikering, Ph.D. The Tipping Point, How A Public School for Dyslexia was Started in Colorado

Lynne Fitzhugh, Ph.D., CALT-QI, is Founder and President of the Colorado Literacy & Learning Center and Director and Lecturer of the Master of Arts in Teaching – Literacy Specialist Program at Colorado College. A Certified Academic Language Therapist and Qualified Instructor, Dr. Fitzhugh is President-Elect of the Academic Language Therapy Association and serves on the boards of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council, the Alliance for Accreditation and Certification and the Boon Philanthropy Educational Advisory Board. She is a representative to the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities and a former board member of the International Dyslexia Association. Dr. Fitzhugh received her doctorate in psychology from Southern Methodist University. She completed her CALT requirements through Southern Methodist University’s Learning Therapy Department and her Qualified Instructor of CALTs from the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Fitzhugh was the 2018 recipient of the Council of Learning Disabilities Floyd G. Hudson Outstanding Service Award, the Colorado Council of Learning Disabilities 2018 Professional of the Year Award and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs 2006 Friends and Family Award.

Rebecca Thompson is the Director of Academic Services at the Academy for Literacy, Learning and Innovation Excellence, ALLIES, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Teaching and Special Education from Western Michigan University and her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.  Her experiences as an elementary teacher, a special educator and a literacy coach, all led to her desire to find a solution for the students she watched slowly slipping through the cracks of our system; the ones whose disability was magically “hidden in a sea of strengths.”   While working as an Assistant Principal for 11 years in a Title I school she became a Certified Dyslexia Screener.  As a dyslexia screener and MTSS Consultant, Rebecca began to identify the characteristics of Dyslexia in students at Odyssey Elementary School.  It became her mission to help educators and families to increase their knowledge of Dyslexia and understand the struggles of their children.  In 2014 she led a team of 6 classroom teachers and 2 Certified Academic Language Therapists, CALTs, to create a Literacy Excellence ‘school within a school.’   Together they began the innovative journey into identification and remediation of students with a profile for Dyslexia on a grand scale; the first school in Colorado to take such a leap.  In the fall of 2017 she created and directed the first public school to serve students with characteristics of Dyslexia and its co-morbidities.  Her passion is to help each student to “find their way” in the educational system, both academically and emotionally, no matter where they are in their journey. She currently resides in Falcon, Colorado and enjoys hiking and exploring the world with her husband and two children and of course, curling up with a good book!

Dr. Mike Pickering is the Zone Superintendent for the POWER Zone in School District 49 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Ahead of his appointment to zone superintendent in 2013 and as the former curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development administrator for the zone he provided the leadership needed to make significant progress with innovation initiatives including supporting the creation of the first zone of innovation of its size in the state of Colorado.  Dr. Pickering brings a diverse range of educational leadership experiences. He has served as a teacher, a building level administrator, and a zone/district level administrator. His formal education includes a bachelor of fine arts, a master's in curriculum and instruction and a doctorate in educational leadership, research and policy. Most recently, in his role as Chief Operating Officer for the Colorado Literacy and Learning Center, he has been working to expand opportunities across Colorado for students who struggle to read, focusing specifically on students who fit a learning profile for dyslexia.  His goal is to ensure all students have the ability to receive the highest quality and most targeted reading interventions possible, all in a free and public educational setting.

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