Reading Specialists and Tutors

Wilson, Orton-Gillingham Reading Specialists and Tutors


The Brooklyn Letters experienced reading/literacy specialists work with all ages (preschoolers through adolescence), travel to your home (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island), or and several have office locations, see below. Brooklyn Letters offers professional reading and writing support from passionate, warm, and experienced educators. Our staff has academic training and professional experience working in schools teaching students with literacy difficulties; tutors typically don’t have these qualifications. We understand what causes underlying literacy learning issues, and we  provide decoding and encoding services, Orton-Gillingham support, and facilitate reading fluency and reading comprehension. Our staff provides standardized reading tests to measure progress. Please read below to learn more about our team. We are more than happy to recommend affordable and fun computer games, if needed, to be used at your leisure at home, to help reinforce your child’s literacy goals.

To help you better understand the process involved in literacy tutoring, we recommend that you read the following articles:

From Catch Them Before They Fall: Identification and Assessment to Prevent Reading Failure in Young Children, by Joseph K. Torgesen

Ten Myths of Reading Instruction, by Sebastian Wren

Rates vary from $100-$135 per hour depending on where you live and which reading specialist works with your child. We travel throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and sections of Nassau County, closer to the Queens border. Rates are slightly higher for Manhattan.

BROOKLYN OFFICES Susan is in Park Slope on 399 2nd Street & Erin is located at Franklin Avenue & Jefferson Avenue (Bed-Stuy).

Feel free to call 347-394-3485 and leave a message- just let us know what type of literacy support your child needs, your availability, and your cross streets. A Brooklyn Letters reading specialist will call you back or email the Brooklyn Letters reading specialist directly (their emails are listed under their respective bios.) Otherwise, contact Craig, who will match your child with the right reading specialist, for additional information-[email protected]

Aly Merrill, NY State Certified Literacy Specialist & NY State Certified Early Childhood Special & General Educator

imageAly Merrill, a NY State Certified Literacy Specialist and a NY State Certified Early Childhood Special and General Educator, specializes in teaching young children with reading difficulties. She is a Certified Wilson Reading Instructor and she has been trained in the Wilson Fundations Program (K-3). In addition, she is trained in the Orton-Gillingham-based approach “Preventing Academic Failure” (PAF). Aly has over 10 years of teaching experience working with children with language-based learning disabilities.

Aly discovered her love of teaching while earning her B.A. in Psychology at Barnard College. Her experience working at the Barnard College Toddler Center inspired her to pursue a career in education. Aly earned her first master’s of science with a dual degree in special and general education from Bank Street College of Education. After teaching for number of years, she earned a second master’s of science in literacy education from Hunter College. Aly currently works at The Churchill School and Center as the Lower Elementary School Literacy Specialist.

Aly’s expertise is in multisensory, phonics-based reading instruction. She uses a sequential and systematic approach to build a solid understanding of the essential skills needed to be a proficient reader. After formal and informal assessments, Aly creates individualized learning plans for each student and she carefully monitors progress in order to ensure success. During each session, Aly provides explicit instruction of new concepts and reviews previously learned material. She provides opportunities for students to immediately apply newly acquired skills while reading texts at the appropriate reading level and while playing exciting reading games.

LOCATION: Brooklyn: Park Slope, South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill.
TYPES OF SERVICE: Initial reading assessment, individualized reading instruction, spelling instruction, progress monitoring, homework help.
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have language-based learning disabilities and students with attention difficulties (ADD/ADHD), increasing phonemic awareness, strengthening phonics knowledge, improving fluency, developing spelling skills and building comprehension strategies.
AGES: Pre-K through 3rd grade
HOURS: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (after school) and weekends
CONTACT: [email protected]

Shelley Padilla, M.S. NY State Dual Certified: Special Educator and Elementary Education & Certified Wilson Reading Specialist

Hempstead-20130210-00024Shelley Padilla is a New York dual licensed Elementary Education (Pre K, Kindergarten, Grades 1-6)/Special Education teacher (K-12), earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Buffalo State College and a Masters of Science from Adelphi University. Shelley found her love for teaching by becoming involved in Special Education since an early age, working as a camp counselor in Special Ed camps, and subsequently has taught special needs children and children with reading difficulties, e.g. dyslexia, in various school settings around the country, including self-contained classrooms for elementary grades, resource room for grades K-5, and reading instruction grades 6 through 12. She has also tutored reading at children’s homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island.

Shelley achieved Certified Wilson Instructor status (very few have obtained this status in NYC), including being trained in the Wilson Fundations Program; a phonics-based program for young children (K-3), and supported teachers using this program. Additionally Shelley trained other teachers in the Wilson Reading Program at a K-12 Special Education school, the Child School, located on Roosevelt Island.

The Wilson Reading System directly and systematically teaches students to achieve success in reading. Unlike traditional phonics programs, Wilson Reading instruction is very interactive and multi-sensory, thus teaching total word construction and not just phonics. Students learn to encode (spell) and they learn to decode (take words apart) as part of their reading process. Evidence shows that when a direct systematic, code-based instruction is skillfully implemented by a Wilson Reading knowledgeable teacher, it is the most effective approach for problem readers. This system is based on the multi-sensory language techniques and principals first described by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham (Orton Gillingham philosophy)

Shelley excels at changing the lives of children that have difficulty in reading by allowing them to see how being a better reader can affect many areas of their lives especially in education. Shelley utilizes her skills to collaborate with teachers, therapists and parents in order to maximize the achievements of students in their educational and emotional needs. Shelley really knows how to make learning to read fun and exciting while showing her students all the possibilities available to them when they learn to appreciate the world of reading.

Read more about her reviews

LOCATION: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island (she resides in Forest Hills).
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation and reading intervention.
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have difficulty with decoding (deciphering letters when reading), reading fluency, reading comprehension, and/or encoding (spelling) issues, including working with students with dyslexia.
AGES: Kindergarten through high school
HOURS: Home-Visits: flexible
CONTACT: [email protected]

Marie Mcgill – NYS Dual Certified Special Educator & General Educator With Specialization iN Speech/Language & Learning Disabilities

Marie McGill is a NYS Certified Special Educator and a NYS Certified General Educator. She works in a collaborative classroom setting, where both general education and special education services are provided to a diverse group of learners. Her education includes a bachelors degree from St. Joseph’s College with a major in Child Study and a concentration in speech language pathology. She also has a masters degree in Special Education from Hunter College, with a specialization in learning disabilities. Her professional experiences working in NYC public schools provided Marie the opportunity to teach a broad range of students from pre-k through 5th grade. Marie is trained in the Wilson Reading Program and its early childhood component, Fundations. She uses the sequential and systematic approaches of these programs in order to build phonemic awareness, decoding, and fluency skills in struggling readers. Students are then given immediate opportunities to apply new concepts as she exposes them to text that is appropriate for their instructional reading levels. Her ultimate goal is for students to end each session with the ability and initiative to independently apply the new concept(s) taught in each session.

In order to fully understand both the strengths and needs of the students she services, Marie begins the tutoring process by conducting both formal and informal evaluations. These may include standard reading assessments, interviews with the student and parent, observations, and examination of class work helping create goals to drive instruction.

It is Marie’s priority to create a learning climate that is supportive and nurturing, yet appropriately challenging. While she often uses research based methods and strategies, her teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that there is no set “formula” that works for every student. As an educator, she enjoys opportunities getting to know and to understand individual student needs and learning styles, and she instructs accordingly.

LOCATION: Brooklyn: North Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Downtown Manhattan.
TYPES OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessment, individualized reading instruction, progress monitoring.
EXPERTISE: Working with students with learning disabilities and speech language delays/difficulties, building phonemic awareness, reading comprehension strategies, balanced literacy.
AGES: All ages
HOURS: Flexible after school and weekends.
CONTACT: [email protected]

Rachel Hedbavny – School Psychologist & Reading Specialist

Rachel3Rachel is a nationally certified School Psychologist and certified in the Wilson Reading System. Rachel is passionate about working with children to promote their academic, social, and emotional growth. Her education includes a B.S. in Marketing from the Rutgers School of Business and Masters in Education with an Advanced Certificate in School Psychology from CUNY Brooklyn College.

As a School Psychologist, she has worked with a diverse population of general and special education students at the elementary and middle school levels, conducting psycho-educational assessments and providing counseling services. She also fosters collaborative relationships in which children, parents, school staff, and outside agencies can work together to maximize students’ potential, and create the most positive school environment that is possible for them.

As a Brooklyn Letters reading tutor, Rachel uses the Wilson program to improve children’s decoding, fluency, comprehension, and spelling skills. She is intent on creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment for her students so they feel most comfortable to persist and challenge themselves. She highlights students’ strengths by tailoring lessons to meet each student’s unique learning style.

LOCATION: Manhattan: west side & lower Manhattan Brooklyn: Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens areas; She resides in Brooklyn Heights.
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessments, individualized reading intervention and instruction
EXPERTISE: Assessment and intervention for children struggling with decoding, reading comprehension, and fluency
AGES: 2nd grade through high school
HOURS: Flexible after-school hours and weekends
CONTACT: [email protected]


ritaRita is a certified literacy specialist with a M.A. from Bank Street College of Education and a B.A. in Literature from Bard College. She has practiced assessment and tutoring in private and clinical settings. Rita has had classroom experience at Hunter Elementary School as well as in public elementary schools in Queens and Harlem. She has completed Part I of Literacy through Multisensory Teaching (LMUST), an Orton Gillingham curriculum developed by Judith Birsh. Growing up with a dyslexic sister in a time when learning disabilities were less understood, she has personally witnessed the challenges that struggling readers and writers face. She has also had extensive music and computer experience and has worked in online news and in web design and development. Rita combines her experience in the arts, computers, and education to teach literacy skills such as decoding and comprehension strategies. She has also had success helping students prepare for the New York State ELA exams. Her students have fun following a series of short, engaging exercises while they learn the skills they need. Rita strives to help her students gain confidence by teaching them to direct their particular strengths toward the goal of becoming more independent learners and successful readers and writers.

HOURS: Weekdays after 3:00 pm, mornings and weekends.
LOCATION: Brooklyn, Manhattan.
TYPES OF SERVICES: Formal and informal reading assessments (phonological awareness, sound symbol association, decoding strategies, fluency, and reading comprehension, spelling); development of intervention programs to address needs.
EXPERTISE: Developing individualized and prescriptive remediation for struggling readers
AGES: Pre-school through middle school
CONTACT: [email protected]

Melissa Marino, NYS certified in Early Childhood, Childhood, Special Education and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

melissaMelissa Marino is NYS certified in Early Childhood, Childhood, Special Education and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She graduated from Saint John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education, and a Masters of Science degree in TESOL. She then furthered her studies and attended Touro College to receive her Special Education and Early Childhood certification. She currently works for the Department of Education as a kindergarten and first grade ESL teacher. Melissa has over 10 years experience impacting students with different needs. She works with students on improving their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Melissa believes in a multisensory learning environment in order to engage all students. Her expertise includes test preparation for the ELA and Math state tests, homework, school curriculum, and preparing English language learners for the NYSESLAT.

Melissa is trained in the Wilson Reading Program and its early childhood component, Fundations. She uses this approach with her students in order to build phonemic awareness, decoding, and fluency skills in struggling readers. She also has training in Columbia University Teacher’s College Workshop Model. Melissa also has experience working successfully with special needs children in improving their academic and social skills using the applied behavior analysis approach (ABA).
Melissa begins the tutoring process by getting to know the student through formal and informal observations and assessments. This allows her to target student’s specific problem areas and adapt instruction. Creating a risk free environment is important when teaching all students. Melissa provides positive reinforcement to all her students. Her goal is to foster and maintain an open, honest, communicative, and supportive environment in which students feel safe, secure, engaged, and appropriately challenged.

LOCATION: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Long Island
TYPES OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessment, individualized reading instruction, progress monitoring.
EXPERTISE: Working with students with learning disabilities, English language learners and speech language delays/difficulties, dyslexia, building phonemic awareness, reading comprehension strategies, balanced literacy
AGES: Preschool through middle school
HOURS: Flexible after school and weekends
CONTACT: [email protected]

Katie Takayanagi, M.S., Orton-Gillingham Practitioner and Academic Tutor

Katie TakayanagiKatie Takayanagi is an academic and Orton-Gillingham (O-G) tutor. She is certified at the Associate Level by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) and has completed 100 additional hours of training at the Certified Level. Her education includes a B.A. in French Studies from Wesleyan University and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England with training in progressive science education for middle school students. In addition to O-G tutoring, Katie works with dyslexic and non-dyslexic students in all major subject areas and offers enrichment tutoring as well.

Katie uses a multisensory approach to help struggling readers, spellers, and writers to understand phonics, syllable division, spelling rules, and other concepts essential to reading and writing fluency. Though she works with all ages, she has extensive experience with middle and high schoolers who are beyond the typical age for O-G tutoring. These students often need both foundational phonics instruction as well as help in more advanced areas such as reading comprehension, essay writing, vocabulary-building morphology, and study skills.
Older students are sometimes particularly daunted by writing assignments. Just as O-G takes a step-by-step, systematic approach to phonics instruction, Katie follows these same principles when teaching higher-level skills, breaking them down into incremental steps and reviewing them until mastery. This approach can allow students to conquer their fear of writing and find a new voice as a writer and a new identity as a learner.
LOCATION: Brooklyn, Manhattan
TYPE OF SERVICES: Individualized lessons in decoding (reading), encoding (spelling), reading comprehension, writing skills, outlining, general organizational and study strategies, academic help
EXPERTISE: Phonics, all types of writing at every stage (planning, revising, proofreading, and the final draft), older dyslexic students, writing-phobic or “shut-down” learners
AGES: All ages
HOURS: Flexible
CONTACT: [email protected]

Joanna Brown, New York State-Certified Reading Specialist & Certified in Childhood Education


Joanna Brown is a New York State-certified reading specialist, early childhood and elementary teacher with seven years of experience teaching and tutoring in New York City.

Joanna earned her M.A. in Elementary Education and Literacy from Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan, and her B.A. in History from the University of Colorado. She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham-based multi-sensory approach “Preventing Academic Failure” (PAF) and has worked with dozens of struggling readers, dyslexic readers, and readers needing enrichment across New York City. Joanna has worked in many schools throughout New York City, including private schools, public schools, and charter schools, so she understands the challenges students face in different educational environments. She currently works as a Head Teacher at The Co-op School in Brooklyn.

Joanna will administer comprehensive assessments to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses. She will then create personalized sessions to target specific areas of need. Joanna focuses on building independence by teaching students to use a toolbox of skills and strategies that they can refer to as they read and write.

Joanna has a calm, patient nature and a playful sense of humor that help her to connect with students on a personal level. She believes that interest and motivation are critically important in supporting more thoughtful reading.

LOCATION: Brooklyn: Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, Prospect Heights, Ft. Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Downtown Manhattan.
TYPES OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessment, individualized reading instruction and intervention, writing and spelling instruction and intervention
EXPERTISE: Early readers, assessment and intervention for children struggling with decoding, reading comprehension, fluency and writing
AGES: K-5th Grade
HOURS: After school
CONTACT: [email protected]

Susan Littman—NY State Certified Reading Specialist, NY State Licensed ELA Teacher, & Literacy Coach

Susan Littman is a NYS Certified Reading Specialist, a NYS Licensed English Language Arts Teacher, and a Literacy Coach who is Orton-Gillingham and Wilson trained, who has helped many students with reading difficulties in elementary and middle schools. Her education includes a Masters in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Masters in Literacy with a special focus on reading disabilities from Long Island University. She also has worked extensively in several District 15 schools, including in P.S. 321 and M.S. 821.

Initially, the process begins with an evaluation of your child’s readings skills, using standard reading assessments, personal observation and interaction with your child. Input from you, the parents, and your child’s teachers, is also vital to get a better understanding of your child’s strengths and struggles. Then, based on your child’s instructional needs and goals, Ms Littman will develop an individualized reading plan. This targeted intervention is customized to help your child make progress, whether the issues are decoding words and/or reading comprehension.

Ms Littman has created a welcoming space in her centrally located Park Slope brownstone where she sees students after school or on weekends. It is a quiet room where a child can concentrate and where distractions are minimized. Here, in this comfortable, supportive environment, Ms Littman will teach your child the strategies and skills s/he needs to become a confident, competent reader.

LOCATION: Home office at 399 2nd Street (Park Slope).
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, consultation with teachers and other involved specialists, individualized reading intervention plan
EXPERTISE: Students with phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading comprehension difficulties.
AGES: All ages.
HOURS: Flexible, after school and on weekends.
CONTACT: [email protected]

Jessica Morganoff – MS Elementary Education and Special Education; Certified Orton Gillingham Practioner; Academic Tutor

jessicamJessica Morganoff is a certified Elementary (K-6) and Special Education (K-8) teacher with over 10 years experience. Jessica taught in a 5th grade inclusion classroom for 7 years before moving to the resource center working with students in grades 3-6. She currently teaches reading and math basic skills to students in kindergarten-third grade.

Jessica is a IMSE certified Orton Gillingham Instructor. Using Orton, Jessica provides her students with individualized, multi-sensory lessons targeted to improve students’ decoding (reading), encoding (spelling), fluency and reading comprehension.

LOCATION: Manhattan
TYPE OF SERVICES: Orton Gillingham Individualized lessons in decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling), Reading Comprehension, General organizational and study strategies, Academic help
EXPERTISE: Phonics, Students with learning disabilities, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Processing issues
HOURS: Weekdays after 4:30PM
CONTACT: [email protected]

Erin McNiven, M.A., NY State Certified Reading Specialist

McNiven_biopictureErin McNiven is a well-trained and passionate educator. She studied at the Teachers College of Columbia University where she received her M.A. as a Reading Specialist. Her undergraduate degree is in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is qualified to work with children, adolescents, and adults who struggle with any aspect of reading or writing.

Erin has worked in public schools and reading clinics, and currently works at an independent school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Erin uses research-based methods to deliver effective instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic and explicit phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, writing, and handwriting.

Erin uses a variety of multisensory reading and writing methodologies, depending on the need of her clients. She has extensive training in the Wilson Reading System, Preventing Academic Failure, Words Their Way, Teaching Basic Writing Skills (Hochman Method), and Self-Regulated Strategy Development, among others.

In 2014, Erin received the James L. Neff Reading Specialist Fellowship for excellent literacy interventions for elementary school children as well as the Charlotte M. Hamill Scholarship for helping students with learning disabilities or learning difficulties improve their literacy skills. She is an active member of the International Literacy Association (ILA) as well as the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

LOCATION: Home office at Franklin Avenue & Jefferson Avenue (Bed-Stuy).
Home visits to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and White Plains.
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, consultation with teachers and other involved specialists, individualized reading intervention.
EXPERTISE: Providing targeted intervention in phonemic awareness, systematic and explicit phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, writing, and handwriting to children and adults with and without diagnosed learning disabilities.
AGES: Birth to adult
HOURS: Flexible after school and weekends
CONTACT: [email protected]


004Andrea is dual certified by New York State as a Literacy Specialist and Early Childhood/Elementary Education Teacher. She has a B.A. in English from SUNY Albany and earned two master’s degrees in literacy and in childhood/elementary education from Queens College, CUNY. For the past eight years, Andrea has worked as a Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) provider, working with students in grades K-12 who have a variety of learning differences. Based on her student’s needs, her services have ranged from giving basic homework help in all subjects, to designing and implementing individualized literacy and math programs, to preparing students for a variety of New York State standardized tests. She was also a first grade reading teacher in Oceanside, New York, where for seven years she worked to build the literacy skills of her students. She also completed the coursework at the associate level in Orton-Gillingham reading programs and received training in Wilson Fundations. Andrea’s goal is to help her students attain the two most important ingredients in academic success: independence and confidence. During literacy instruction, she helps her students master a variety of decoding and comprehension strategies and to apply these strategies to better their understanding in all academic areas. To improve their writing, she gives students the opportunity to express themselves in different topics ranging from creative writing to writing based on reading. Her students also learn to improve their spelling and edit their written work. In mathematics, she provides students with strategies to help them understand concepts, and she uses techniques such as manipulatives and reading comprehension strategies to help solve word problems. Through her work, she gives students the tools they need to help them achieve their academic potential.

LOCATION: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, individualized reading and writing instruction, consultation with teachers or other service providers if requested.
EXPERTISE: Reading: Implement a variety of decoding and comprehension strategies to encourage independent reading. Improve reading fluency. Writing: Instruction in writing both short paragraphs and full essays. Improve organization, grammar and encoding (spelling). Work with students with a variety of learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.
AGES: Kindergarten through high school
HOURS: Home-Visits: Mondays at 3:30pm, Tues., Thurs. Fridays at 3:30pm, and weekends.
CONTACT: [email protected]

Jo-Ann Kalb-NY State Certified Teacher & Reading Interventionist

After a successful 20 year career as a classroom teacher and 10 years as a school librarian, Jo-Ann has launched what has become a vibrant practice as a private reading specialist. For the past three years she has transformed dyslexic and otherwise struggling students into thriving readers who do well in school. At the same time Jo-Ann continues to work for the Department of Education part-time as the Reading Intervention teacher at PS 10 in Park Slope. She has received certificates for training in Orton-Gillingham, PAF, Wilson, Sounds in Motion, Great Leaps, and Rewards. All are research based programs designed to meet the needs of students who are faced with difficulty establishing basic reading skills. She blends all programs together and combined with her years of classroom experience formulates a program to meet the very individualized needs of each of her clients. If you are on vacation and want to continue tutoring, Jo-Ann will set up SKYPE sessions with you and your child.

Her initial evaluation is free, and she will determine whether or not she believes she can help your child. She will gladly provide you with a referral list of satisfied parents. All materials are provided and parents are involved with assigned practice work.

Read more about her rave reviews!

LOCATION: Manhattan and Brooklyn (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Heights, Bay Ridge, Ditmas Park, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, and Fort Greene).
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, reading intervention using research based reading programs.
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have phonemic awareness problems and/or dyslexia.
AGES: 5-10
HOURS: Home-Visits: Mon, Wed-Fri 3:30-7PM

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