Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank you to our donors whose generous support over the holiday season raised nearly $35,000 to equip our children with tools for success in the classroom, and a big thank you to the Willamette Week Give!Guide for a fifth year of successful fundraising!

“Our donors’ generosity will put essential literacy tools into the hands of our struggling students,” said Shadow Founder/Executive Director Christy Scattarella. M.A. “With gifts from the Give!Guide, our end-of-year campaign, corporate matches, and a match from the deLaski Family Foundation, we can provide children in special education innovative ways to succeed in the classroom.”

Thank you also to The Shadow Project’s recent foundation donors and corporate sponsors:

*Nike Community Impact Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation
*Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust
*OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation
*Spirit Mountain Community Fund

A volunteer initiative piloted by Shadow in the fall of 2016 with the University of Portland, garnered more than 130 classroom hours that benefited Shadow students. Special thanks to Dr. Eric Anctil’s sophomore education majors: Nick, Kiana, Jordyn, and Kimberley, for their help in reading with kids on audiobooks, outfitting sensory spaces, and preparing goal setting materials for teachers.


Said Nick: “I found out recently that I have ADD and I can relate to kids with sensory issues because school never really suited me. I wanted to see what it’s like for other kids who are struggling in school, and how sensory tools help with reading and focus.”


Dogs Inspire Confidence in Struggling Readers

Dogs Inspire Confidence in Struggling Readers

Dogs don’t judge when you read aloud! In honor of The Shadow Project’s namesake, Shadow the dog, whose birthday is Feb. 14, we asked a few of our students with learning challenges how reading to their dog gives them confidence.


Many children with learning challenges such as dyslexia and ADHD, or kids with anxiety, are afraid to read out loud in front of their peers for fear of ridicule. Reading aloud at home nightly is one way to get over this worry, and many Shadow children rely upon their dogs as reading buddies, to boost courage … and reading comprehension.

Fifth grader Mia dislikes reading out loud in class because she reads slow and fears people will laugh if the letters move around on the page, and her words falter.

“I was always nervous to read out loud,” said Mia, 10.

But Milo—one of her two dogs—loves for Mia to read to him.

“She likes reading to the dog because he doesn’t judge,” said Sarah Drummond Hays, Mia’s mom.

Educators say that dogs make great reading partners because they can encourage students with a gentle nudge to keep going, or a paw placed strategically to offer support and enhance focus.

Dogs also have a calming effect that can reduce anxiety, and their quiet presence boosts confidence.

Fifth grader Adam likes to read to his dog, Molly, because she is a good listener … and doesn’t interrupt with questions.

“I just love dogs,” he said.




Shadow Student has “A” in Reading

Shadow Student has “A” in Reading

Shadow kid Johnny, who many of our readers have been following since last spring because of his reading struggles due to severe dyslexia, has transitioned well to middle school, and received an “A” in reading on his most recent report card. Watch Johnny’s story by clicking here.

“Johnny is doing much, much better,” says mom, Rosa, who six months ago was worried about her son’s future. “He is a normal kid. Now, I am not frustrated and worried.”

Rosa had good reason to worry. Two grade levels behind in reading in fifth grade meant Johnny wasn’t keeping up with his peers, which statistically, put him at risk of dropping out of school.

But when The Shadow Project gave Johnny access to Learning Ally’s audiobooks so he could read with his ears, he gained confidence, building his fluency, vocabulary, and decoding skills, which then helped him progress to reading written text. Research has shown that hearing text as it is read can actually boost comprehension not just for children with learning disabilities, but for all budding readers.

“Johnny reads for 30 minutes every night,” says Rosa. “The teachers say he does his homework, and helps other kids, and that he’s a wonderful boy in class.”

Johnny’s helpfulness also extends to Rosa—he helps her with the forms she needs to get going again on her GED—and to other kids with learning challenges. During a Christmas visit with Alex, the boy in The Boy Who Learned Upside Down, Johnny was enthusiastic about sharing his story to inspire other kids to keep trying.

“Johnny loves school,” says Rosa.

Teacher Recommends Boy Book

Teacher Recommends Boy Book

jenlopezTrying is the number one tenet in Jen Lopez’s room.

The first grade teacher at Chief Joseph Elementary has a daughter with autism and, with two high-needs students in her classroom this school year, she knows perseverance is key for children with learning challenges.

At the beginning of the year, Jen read The Boy Who Learned Upside Down to her kids, a book by Shadow Project founder and executive director Christy Scattarella. Boy is based on a true story of a second grader with ADD and dyslexia who is motivated to try in school by setting small goals, and then achieving them.

“This book is the greatest,” said Jen, who has been with Portland Public Schools for 17 years. “Everyone should have this book. My kids cried when I read the book, because I cried.”

After the Boy reading, the kids created “I Can” signs that hang over all their desks. One reads, “I can rolr scate because I have courage.”

“All of our classroom rules are based on this book,” said Jen. “I’m so passionate about this book; it’s the best.”

Shadow Unveils Online Store for Teachers

Shadow Unveils Online Store for Teachers

Special education teachers in The Shadow Project were able to access online the organization’s extensive warehouse of student reinforcers–books, pencils, fidgets, gifts–for the first time this fall.

“The move to an online store is a huge milestone for us,” said Christy Scattarella, M.A., Shadow founder and executive director. “For many years, our teachers have physically visited our warehouse to pick up reinforcing motivational materials for kids with learning disabilities in The Shadow Project who meet their academic and behavioral goals. However, with their busy schedules, teachers have been asking for an online presence.

“When we moved our physical warehouse this summer from Portland Public Schools to Madison High School, which is a longer driving distance for many of the teachers in our program, it made sense to transfer all our operations online,” she said.