At the top of her class

Kay MacPhee re­ceives life­time achieve­ment award for her lead­er­ship in IT in­dus­try from ITAP

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY/ENTERTAINMENT -

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.


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