60+ Years

Over the course of 60 years, the Reading Center has quietly tested and taught over 7,600 students and trained over 1,400 educators from all over the country (and the world) in Orton-Gillingham,  the teaching approach proven to help struggling readers learn to read.

     In 1951, Paula Rome established an organization of teachers in Rochester, MN who were trained to apply the Orton-Gillingham approach to benefit students who were struggling to read, write, and spell. In 1957, Jean Osman joined her to lead the organization.    Both women are known throughout the United States and the world for their tutoring, training and for their groundbreaking publications, The Language Toolkit, and The Advanced Language Toolkit.   Both publications remain the “go-to” books on how to teach people with language learning difficulties. They provided leadership in national and regional organizations that are committed to helping those with dyslexia, such as the International Dyslexia Association, the IDA of the Upper Midwest and the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.


Our Founders Connection to Orton-Gillingham

     The Reading Center/Dyslexia Institute of MN continues the work of our founders today, with an impressive track record of tutoring, training, educating the public and providing leadership in the field of language learning difficulties. 

     The origins of the Reading Center begin when Paula Rome moved from Philadelphia to Rochester, Minnesota in 1947.  She brought with her the knowledge and expertise that she had learned from her uncle, Dr. Paul Dozier, about effective ways to work with students with reading disorders.  Dr. Dozier was Director of the Language Clinic at the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital, and his teacher and colleague, Dr. Samuel T. Orton was a professor at Columbia University.  Neuro‑psychiatrists by profession, both Orton and Dozier had intense interests in individuals with reading difficulties. They spent a large part of their professional lives working on discovering the causes and developing methods of teaching that would solve the special needs of those with problems acquiring written language skills.  Their pioneering work played a very important role in designing effective teaching techniques for this population.  In the course of their work, they asked Miss Anna Gillingham, a master educator with a great deal of experience in teaching English, to analyze the organization of the language for instructing those with language learning disorders.   


     For many years, the Reading Center was headquartered out of the Rome family basement.  Educational testing, in order to determine the nature of the reading difficulty, was done in a modest office near the furnace.  A staff of tutors provided the instruction in their homes, schools, or church rooms.  Paula Rome, Jean Osman and a third partner, Marcia Henry, shared the work and the responsibility for the programming as it developed into a sizable thriving, expert, and caring agency.  With well trained and talented staff, the Reading Center became a facility offering services to students with dyslexia and training to adults wishing to learn the approach.  

Educational testing was done at the Reading Center office and a staff of tutors provided the instruction in their homes, schools, or church rooms.  What started as Paula Rome's crusade to provide educational services gradually grew with the help of Jean Osman, a gifted teacher and innovator who joined her in 1957.  They shared the work and responsibility as it developed into a sizable, thriving, knowledgeable, and caring agency.  With a well-trained and talented staff, the Reading Center became a facility offering many and varied services.


Our Own Building

     The Reading Center moved from the basement of Paula Rome's home in Rochester.  In 1989,  Paula, Jean, and several staff members began structuring the Center into a not‑for‑profit organization which in 1991 assumed the official title, Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota. The Institute's official mission statement became, "Toward literacy For All". The agency also kept its community‑familiar title of The Reading Center.

     The organization has grown from being spearheaded by one very committed woman to an organization directed by dedicated members of the Board of Directors who come from a wide variety of backgrounds representing diverse professional expertise. The Reading Center has earned state and regional recognition for its ability to help find answers for those with language difficulties.  It is the only center west of the Mississippi accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators to provide training in the Orton-Gillingham approach.  The Reading Center is also accredited by the Academy for providing the highest quality Educational Therapy (tutoring).

         Paula Rome

      Jean Osman


Kay Hawley and Elaine Bauman

Kay Hawley tutors a student

Joyce Washechek

Nancy Sears helps students

The tutoring family: true commitment!


Contact Information

The Reading Center | 847 5th Street N.W. | Rochester, MN 55901 | 507-288-5271 | read@thereadingcenter.org

Copyright 2010 The Reading Center | Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota Terms Of Use Privacy Statement