At the top of her class
Kay MacPhee receives lifetime achievement award for her leadership in IT industry from ITAP
The Innovation and Technology Association of Prince Edward (ITAP) recently announced Kay MacPhee as the 2015 recipient of its lifetime achievement Award.
The award is presented to an individual in acknowledgement of their distinguished leadership in the development of Prince Edward Islands’ I.T. industry.
MacPhee is the director of learning and research and cofounder of the Charlottetownbased company Ooka Island.
“It’s the place where children Pre-K to Grade 2 become confident readers," a news release states.
Built on 25 years of research and innovation, Ooka Island’s learn-to-read program combines scientifically-teaching methods with adaptive learning technology, wrapped in an interactive adventure.
“I am truly honoured and humbled to be given this award. My journey has been fuelled by a passion to unlock the potential within every child to become a confident reader. And technology has made my dream a reality by making our program adaptive in nature and accessible for any child with a computer and internet access," says MacPhee.
The program continually analyzes a child’s progress and plots a personalized path through the program until a child masters the five foundational reading skills, which together allows them to read confidently. Moreover, it enables real-time reporting to parents and teachers detailing where children are excelling or having difficulty, providing valuable and actionable information as a child is on their journey towards becoming a confident reader.
Originally inspired by her son, who was born profoundly deaf, MacPhee, a former principal and teacher, developed techniques enabling the hearing-impaired to form language skills and learn how to read. After years as an educational assessment specialist for the school system, MacPhee continued to modify and hone her scientific approach to reading instruction.
After years of research, in 1994, Dr. MacPhee launched SpellRead, a scientifically-based intervention program for struggling older readers which went through testing and trials and proved its efficacy. It was ranked the number one program for developing comprehension in older, struggling readers by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse - a fact that was not lost on Kaplan K-12 of New York, which acquired SpellRead in June of 2006.
Then in 2008, she joined forces with children’s author and teacher Jim Barber to create Ooka Island. They dreamed of an engaging and prevention-focused program for young children, founded on the scientifically-proven concepts that made SpellRead successful.
To realize their goal, they turned to Acadia University which helped them research and develop the specifications for an online program. And the results of this collaboration led to funding support from the National Research Council, which made it possible for Ooka Island’s adaptive learning platform to be developed.