Owner and Assessor - 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. She loves helping parents, students, and teachers with her knowledge and expertise, and 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, dyslexia assessments, trains and 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!”
● Baccalaureate of Arts (Cum Laude): English Honours and Visual Arts. University of Ottawa
● Baccalaureate of Education (Magna Cum Laude): Intermediate/Senior Division; English and Visual Arts. University of Ottawa.
● Special Education I: Additional Qualification: Nipissing University
● Diagnosing Dyslexia: University of San Diego/Bright Solutions for Dyslexia
● Barton Reading & Spelling System Certified: Bright Solutions For Dyslexia
● Simultaneous Multisensory Teaching Method: Canadian Dyslexia Centre Inc.
● TESOL (Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages) and TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Certification: Global Leadership College
Online Liaison and Administration - 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.
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 then screens the students with online assessment tools to ensure readiness for our online programming. She uses her organizational and creative skills in her role in administration for everything from invoicing to discovering and implementing innovative ideas and solutions.
"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, Instructor Education Coordinator - 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 a 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 joins instructors during certain 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.”