Laney College learning specialist Stacey Kayden has come full circle from student with learning disabilities to college instructor pioneering technologically advanced programs for students with learning disabilities.
A high school dropout who struggled with the basics of reading and writing, Kayden
once thought that she
just had to work harder than everyone else.
And that she
applied herself and tested out of high school at 17.
Kayden then migrated north from Southern California and attended City College of San Francisco; she went on to graduate from San Francisco State University with honors.
It was during this time of undergraduate study that Kayden
focused on writing.
In short, it was an English instructor teaching Faulkner who recognized that Kayden
had the comprehension and concept--it was just the spelling and grammar that were lacking.
That instructor gave Kayden
two grades on her
Faulkner paper, thereby helping her
to understand that spelling and concept were indeed mutually exclusive.
After SFSU, Kayden attended Columbia University and focused her study on learning disabilities.
initial focus was education, her
mission in graduate school became personal.
continued in the mindset of thinking that she
had to work harder than everyone else because she
just wasn't smart enough.
Two significant events occurred in Kayden's
learning process changed that view.
A teacher was speaking about gifted students and the inner conflict some students felt about being smart versus being not so bright.
That proverbial light bulb went off for Kayden
realized that she
wasn't lacking in mental capabilities in the least--she just couldn't spell.
The second part of her
epiphany was realized when she
found the profound power of technology--computers.
Something called "spell check" changed her
"My passion in life has been to get people the tools they need to be successful.
This is the vision I had since a little kid--to help people find their voice," Kayden
Since joining the Laney staff in 1990, Kayden has helped many students find their voice.
was hired to run Laney's
Tech Center for disabled students.
No such curriculum existed however, and Kayden
Laney's Universal Learning Lab has become a flagship model for the state of California, leading Kayden to the role of trainer for college staffers throughout the state who are implementing similar high tech centers on their campuses.
The lab is unique in that it is student-run and supported.
has always believed in the concept of community--students supporting their fellow students.
talks to students and has shown students that she
cares for them and that they matter," Kayden
believes it is important to engage students in this day and age, and technology is the number one tool to do that.
"One thing is important, if we want students to be prepared and competitive they must be computer savvy," she
"They must collaborate with each other and with their teachers using technology.
If we can combine the use of technology in an educational field, students are given a competitive edge."
mission is also about dispelling the myth that text-to-speech technology is not really reading, as some believe.
wants students to know and understand that reading is not about decoding words; it's about getting information.
Once that information has been taken in, each student can utilize his
ability to analyze and comprehend.