Owner and Founder - Heather Desjardins
Heather Desjardins is an experienced resource teacher who is certified through the Ontario College of Teachers. She began specialized work with students with learning differences early in her teaching career, and she has extensive experience and training in the field of learning disabilities. She loves helping parents, students, and teachers with her knowledge and expertise. She enjoys helping students by finding the best way for them to learn according to their unique strengths, needs, and learning styles. She helps many families in the community through The Open Door, as well as through her work as the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Learning Disability Association of Ottawa-Carleton.
Heather is very hands on in managing The Open Door. She conducts all testing and dyslexia assessments, mentors the tutors, and oversees the progress of the students of The Open Door’s tutoring and reading remediation programs. She is always happy to take the time to answer questions for families, regardless of whether or not they are clients.
“My favourite thing is to see students, who have struggled so much with reading, with their nose in a book – reading for pleasure!”
Administrative Coordinator and Online Liaison - Marla Ruta
Marla started her work with The Open Door as a Barton Reading and Spelling System Instructor. She studied English at the University of Ottawa, and is very passionate about literature, language, and learning. She is a positive and supportive guide on her students' journey to independence in literacy.
She became interested in tutoring after researching dyslexia when her husband started working for The Open Door. Having seen the impact the Barton program has had on the lives of children, Marla knew she wanted to provide that opportunity to others as well. She is a positive and supportive guide on her students' journey to independence in literacy.
As our online liaison, Marla connects with remote schools, educators, students and their families to provide information and to prepare them for our online tutoring services. She uses her planning and problem-solving skills in her role as administration for everything from invoicing to discovering and implementing innovative ideas and solutions. She oversees all our administrative activities.
"I love all of the little "aha" moments. When you see the child's face light up because they just made a connection and that is going to make everything just a little bit easier for them moving forward. Once you have enough little moments they can look back and see how much they have accomplished."
Student Screener and Tutor Trainer - Leigha Brigham
Leigha is a certified Barton Reading and Spelling System Instructor at The Open Door. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Intercultural Studies at Ambrose University in Calgary, studied Elementary Education at Taylor University College in Edmonton, and has her TESL Diploma (teaching English as a Second Language). She has also completed the course by Dyslexia International, offered through the University of London, which specializes in best practices in teaching literacy to children with dyslexia.
She started working with The Open Door because she appreciates the value of working with students one on one to allow them to get the support they need to overcome obstacles and meet their goals.
As our student screener, Leigha screens new reading and spelling remediation students at the initial meeting prior to the first tutoring session. She performs a short series of assessments with the student in order to determine the best path forward, and, along with the instructor, answers any questions of the student and parents. She also works with Heather to train tutors, provides support and periodically joins instructors during student tutoring sessions to evaluate progress.
“I love seeing how quickly students gain confidence and improve their reading and spelling in a short period of time. It is always great to hear that students are reading more, have moved up a reading level, and have improved their writing.”
Administrative Assistant - Emily Dale
Emily also started working at The Open Door as a Barton Reading & Spelling instructor. She has worked as a tutor at the college level and has completed the University of London course "Supporting Children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing'. She originally came from a nursing background and has a passion for helping others.
Emily started working at The Open Door because she enjoys working one-on-one with students to help them overcome their struggles. She believes that everyone deserves a chance to succeed at reading, regardless of learning style.
As our administrative assistant, Emily performs a various administrative and clerical duties including invoicing, communication, and bookkeeping. She works behind the scenes using her organization skills to assist with a variety of areas that keeps things running smoothly.
"I love watching students independently use techniques taught through the Barton System to help with their reading. It's also great to hear feedback from parents and teachers, proudly praising students' improved strategies and grades."