San Antonio's Reading Guru
Cathy Cummins started at San Antonio Academy in 1987 as the art teacher for both the primary and upper school boys.
In 1988, Cathy created Summer At The Academy, which has evolved into one of the most successful summer programs in all of South Texas. Last year alone, almost 2,000 children attended the program. In addition, for over a decade she has been the creator and director of the year-round Enrichment Program at San Antonio Academy.
Over the past 30 years, Cathy also created an incredibly successful program called Early Bird Reading, which has taught thousands of children from all over San Antonio and the surrounding communities learn how to read. Her curriculum consists of Orton-based phonics and basal readers that use a controlled vocabulary. She always gives a uniform group instruction at the beginning of class because she believes that children need the information about the phonograms, syllabication and the rules of English. Additionally, the children in the Early Bird Reading program play word games, practice handwriting and create art projects related to the phonograms. The art project is an important component because it gives the children time to practice fine motor skills as well as reflect on the phonograms that are being illustrated.
Cathy’s teaching method is so highly-regarded that schools in San Antonio, South Texas as well as Mexico have asked her to consult and train their teachers on her proven techniques.
A few times a year, Cathy also offers a Phonics for Adults class, which instructs participants in spelling and decoding tactics as well as the many different sounds of each English language phonograms. This course has enabled many parents to help their child become a better reader and speller.
Cathy’s latest accomplishment is a new product called Phonopics, which are cards with cartoon images that teach and illustrate all of the sounds of the 71 English language phonograms. The Phonopics will be a revolutionary teaching tool as they have never before been produced. Another unique quality about the cards is that they are illustrated by Harvey S. Williams, the award-winning animation director who produced such characters as Rocky & Bullwinkle, Underdog, Dudley-Do-Right, Trix the Rabbit, and Tony the Tiger. Cathy will officially launch Phonopics sometime during the next month.
cathy cummins: humanitarian efforts
In 2000, Cathy created the non-profit organization Niños de la Calle, which serves the poorest of the poor across the border in Progresso, Mexico. What started as charity for one grandmother supporting her five grandchildren, today helps support 30-40 families and assists them in paying for their children’s public school education which includes tuition and uniforms.
Niños de La Calle has garnered so much support that her organization was able to build an Enrichment Center for the school as well as hire a full-time enrichment teacher. The air-conditioned center is equipped with a library, computers, games and educational toys, a full-screen television and occasionally hosts chess tournaments!