VKC Reading Clinic welcomes new Associate Director, receives $50,000 Dollar General Literacy Grant


The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic is thriving this year with a new Associate Director and a $50,000 Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant used for partial and full Reading Clinic scholarships.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic has had plenty to celebrate these days, with the arrival of new Associate Director Brooke Soden, Ph.D., and the acceptance of a $50,000 Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant that will be used to provide Reading Clinic scholarship funds to families who might not be able to afford tutoring services otherwise.

New Associate Director
“Brooke comes to us with a wealth of knowledge about reading, having trained at one of the world’s best reading research institutes, Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University,” said Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Reading Clinic Faculty Director Laurie Cutting, Ph.D. “Her vision of not only how to lead the clinic in the short term, but also how to grow it over time into a world-class entity is exciting and innovative. We look forward to having her as a clinical and scientific colleague.”

As associate director, Soden will coordinate and manage the VKC Reading Clinic providing one-on-one reading tutoring for struggling readers in grades K-8. The Clinic also provides community training and training for Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate students in Special Education and Communication Sciences. Soden is an assistant professor with an appointment in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Bill Wilkerson Center and Department of Otolaryngology. She earned her doctoral degree in Cognitive Psychology at Florida State University, where she trained with the Florida Center for Reading Research. She continued her training as a postdoctoral researcher at The Ohio State University studying the genetics of reading and math disabilities.

Soden is joined this fall in her leadership role by Crysti Jones who led the Reading Clinic on an interim basis this past year. Jones, a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s Department in Special Education, will remain with the clinic through the fall to continue her contributions as well as facilitate a smooth transition. “Crysti provided invaluable leadership in the Clinic this past spring and we are delighted that she is able to continue working with us this fall,” said Elise McMillan, VKC UCEDD Co-Director. The Reading Clinic Team will include Soden, Jones, and Program Coordinator Mary Dangerfield.

“I am very excited to be here and look forward to working in the Reading Clinic and developing partnerships throughout Vanderbilt, the VKC, and the community,” said Soden. “This is an exciting place to be and I am honored to be a part of it.”

Dollar General Literacy Foundation Gift
Not long after Soden arrived, the Reading Clinic was notified that it had been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

“All of us here at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center—and most especially families whose children attend the Reading Clinic—were thrilled to receive the great news that the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has once again provided a gift of $50,000,” said VKC Reading Clinic director Laurie Cutting, Ph.D. “The Foundation’s gift truly makes a critical difference. It allows so many children to overcome reading difficulty through our one-to-one tutoring. The gift also provides partial support for training Metro School teachers as tutors using the evidence-based instructional methods of the Reading Clinic, as well as helping us compensate them for their tutorial time.”

“This is the sixth year that the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has provided grant funding to the Reading Clinic,” said VKC director Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D. “Year after year, we are privileged to see these scholarship dollars being put to good use through invaluable tutoring and personalized attention given to young readers. We appreciate that the Dollar General Literacy Foundation places great importance on the fundamentals of reading, and we are honored that the Foundation continues to value the hard work provided by our Reading Clinic tutors and facilitators.”

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic provides intensive, individualized tutoring using assessment and instructional methods proven by research to promote reading; serving primarily children through middle school. The Clinic uses state-of-the-art practices in teaching reading to students with reading difficulties or other students with disabilities who are delayed readers. Clinicians provide ongoing assessments on each student’s progress on a weekly basis. This keeps everyone on track; tutor, student, and parents stay informed so that the instructional program can be individually tailored to the student’s needs.

For more information about the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic, call (615) 936-5118 or visit the VKC Reading Clinic Web site.

Pictured above: (top) Crystal Finley, Special Education graduate student and UCEDD trainee, tutors a student (bottom) Brooke Soden, Reading Clinic Associate Director

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