The field of dyslexia lost an influential and inspiring member with the passing of Dr. Karen Sue Vickery.
Karen lost her battle with cancer on Sunday, September 22, 2019. She is survived by her husband, Jim; a sister, Pat; brothers Gaylon and Dennis and their families.
Karen received a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Education with a major in Reading from Arkansas State University. She then obtained her doctorate from East Texas State University.
Karen became a Certified Academic Language Therapist in 1982 after attending the Dean Learning Center in Dallas. She became a Qualified Instructor of Certified Academic Language Therapists & Practitioners in 1985 after training with EDMAR Educational Associates in Dallas. She was also a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist in Texas.
Karen began her career as a classroom teacher. In 1977, she was involved in the field testing of the Multisensory Teaching Approach for Reading, Spelling and Handwriting guides developed by Margaret T. Smith of EDMAR Educational Associates. In 1995, she began serving as Reading Coordinator for Special Programs and Dyslexia Coordinator for the Greenville ISD.
In July 2001, she retired from Texas public schools but continued to work part-time for Greenville ISD. She began working with Southern Methodist University in 1999 and became the Director of SMU’s Learning Therapy Program in 2001. She retired from SMU in 2017. Throughout her career, Karen presented at many professional conferences, inservices, and school districts.
Karen was a dedicated and founding member of the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). During her time, she served on the Association’s board of directors and, over the years, chaired more than eight different committees. In 2017, Karen was recognized for her service and awarded the Jamie P. Williams ALTA Founders Award in honor of dedication to the establishment of the Academic Language Therapy Association.
In related professional work with other organizations, Karen served as chair of the Aylett Cox Scholarship Committee and the Lucius Waites Scholarship Committee for the ALTA Foundation. She was also active in the Alliance, serving as board president and treasurer. She was a very involved member of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).
In 2009, she was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Dyslexia Interim Study Committee. Karen also served on and chaired numerous committees for the Texas Education Agency.
Beyond her achievements throughout her career, Karen was a warm and wonderful person and mentor. She changed the lives of so many by working with individuals struggling to read and those with dyslexia and encouraging and training others to become academic language teachers and therapists. She provided guidance, wisdom, and her ever-present smile. She was the gentlest of souls with the toughest of wills. Karen and Jim did not have children of their own. However, no matter how old you were, to Karen you were her “young’un”.
Several ALTA members paid tribute to Karen with the following warm remarks:
“She was such a wonderful lady.”
“She had big heart and will be greatly missed.”
“Karen was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed. She always had a smile and it always warmed my heart to see her.”
“She was a fun lady that kept a good perspective.”
“We will definitely miss her.”