GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — To teach is to touch a life forever.

It’s a slogan Deb Mallin believes. On her office desk, there’s wood block with the following message:

Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.

She founded the non-profit Literacy Matters Foundation and created a virtual tutor called Mighty Doodle. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, data shows in grades 3 through 8 white students are performing at higher levels than students of color in the state. Reading data tells a similar story. And students with learning differences and those living in poverty have lowers scores.

Mallin, a teacher herself, believes this program will help close the learning and achievement gap.

“Minnesota has the largest literacy gap, Between those getting extraordinary education and those that are not, and that decision should not be based on your zip code,” she said. 

The program’s 50 min sessions take students through a multi-sensory learning experience.

Mallin says the inspiration came from one of her sons who lives with dyslexia.

“I am the voice of mighty Doodle. The voice came from getting my own children off to school, especially my son with dyslexia who didn't want to go to school,” she said. “1 in 5 children has dyslexia. Think about a child growing up in poverty with a learning difference. We need to give them bootstraps and then they can pull themselves up.”

The program was tested in charter schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She says students who were at least three years behind grade level tested about four times higher on standardized test when compared to peers who didn't have Mighty Doodle.

She says two years into the program, they are measuring successes.

“When a child says,'I'm doing better in math and there are word problems and I knew the words. That is the most important data of all."

To learn more, visit the app's website

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