A Community
Literacy Resource

Who we are: Whatcom Learning is a not-for-profit community literacy resource. Our purpose is to help beginning and challenged readers ages 5 to 95 learn to read in English. The emphasis is on early intervention with one-to-one tutoring assistance from trained community volunteers.

We use a reading program designed for dyslexic or reading challenged students. This structured program also works well with typical learners. Private evaluation for dyslexia and other learning disabilities available at additional cost.


“Today in America we have an epidemic of reading deficiency. Barely a third of fourth graders read at a proficient level. In 2012, reading scores on the SAT dropped to their lowest level in four decades. The problem is not that we don’t know how to teach reading. The problem is that breakthroughs in reading education... are not reaching the general classroom.” —Hal Malchow, Chairman of the Board of Directors, International Dyslexia Assoc., 2016 Letter

Our Mission

Our Mission is to bend history – to help change the course of history so that children and adults do not become victims of low literacy skills. Low literacy has demoralizing consequences impacting how people feel about themselves, their ability to earn a decent wage and opportunities to follow their dreams.

We Help By:
Training Community Volunteers as Tutors

“Never underestimate your ability to make someone else’s life better.”
—Greg Louganis, Olympic Diving Champion

As a volunteer with the Whatcom Learning Lab you will receive training, a manual with step-by-step directions, and access to video demonstrations for each lesson you can watch online. You also reap the satisfaction of seeing your student grow and – as the pictures displayed here show -- develop a mutually beneficial bond by the end of the school year.

Change a life. Become a volunteer reading tutor.

We Help By:
Using an effective curriculum

We use an effective method specially designed to help dyslexic learners. The Barton Reading and Spelling System has been approved by the California Dept. of Education. For research results, testimonials and a demonstration of the method please visit this website: http://www.bartonreading.com/ 

We Help By:
Providing Affordable Tutoring

As an all-volunteer organization, we can provide an affordable tutoring resource to the community. We offer tutoring for one-hour sessions twice a week. Two time slots are available: 3 to 4PM or 4 to 5PM.

Benefits to the Community

For Tutors:
In addition to tutoring skills, volunteer tutors develop skills in the areas of interpersonal interaction and experience the satisfaction of helping another person.

For Tutees:
As tutees (children or adults), raise their reading levels; their self-esteem is increased as well as their ability to be more productive at school and on the job.

When adults learn to read, their personal lives are enriched by reading for personal pleasure as well as being able to read to their children or grandchildren.

When adults build strong reading skills, they are more empowered to: seek quality, higher-paying jobs; make informed decisions when fulfilling civic opportunities such as voting; and contribute to the community when they volunteer or work for the good of others.

If you want reading help or to volunteer as a tutor please call 371-3978 or email whatcomlearninglab@comcast.net

Location and Days

Hosted by:
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

2117 Walnut St.
Near intersection of Holly and Broadway
Tues. & Thurs.
3 – 4 or 4-5 PM

We follow the Bellingham school district calendars for holidays. The Whatcom Learning Lab ends the last of May and resumes in the fall.

As a not-for-profit resource, we welcome donations. We are especially seeking donations of working iPads or other tablets.

Spearheaded by Decoding Dyslexia of Washington, October was declared Dyslexia Awareness Month by our Governor. Click on this link to read the proclamation which provides a good overview of the true nature of dyslexia.

Reader's Theater

These Readers’ Theater costumes are original creations made by several Whatcom Learning Lab tutors. Reader’s Theater is like a short play but instead of memorizing their parts, children read their parts from a script. Wearing their nifty costumes, the students were excited to perform for their parents.

Need for Literacy Help

About 3-5 students in a class of 30 are dyslexic. They are smart kids who struggle to learn reading and spelling skills many of us take for granted. Teachers think they are not really trying while their classmates equate their slow reading with low intelligence. They end up feeling defeated and begin to doubt their self-worth.

Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 children, about 10 million children nationwide (retrieved from Neuhaus Education Center website 2015)

Children with dyslexia often go undiagnosed until they are past the critical learning years of kindergarten through third grade. (retrieved from Neuhaus Education Center website 2015).

Children who are not reading by 3rd grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school (Neuhaus Education Center website 2015)

Not being able to read well in first grade predicts about 90% of the poor readers in fourth grade (C. Juel in Handbook of Early Literacy Research, 2005)

60% of 4th graders in Washington state read below grade level. (NAEP results, OSPI website)

2/3rds of ALL children who do not read by the 4th grade will be in jail or on welfare when they are adults (report by Dr. Louisa Moats published by Thomas B. Fordham Foundation)

Nearly 1/2 of all adults with low literacy levels are living in poverty, even if they are employed (Whatcom Literacy Council website).

70% of adult inmates and 85% of children in the juvenile court system cannot read (Family Literacy Centers' publication)

One in 6 adults in Whatcom County is functionally illiterate (Whatcom Literacy Council website)

This means there are about 26,000 adults in Whatcom County who need help to learn to read and write.

Info & Contact

The Director: Linda Gorsuch is a retired school psychologist with over 20 years experience in the field of dyslexia. Also trained as a special education teacher, she maintains a private practice in the evaluation and tutoring of children and adults with dyslexia.

If you want reading help or to volunteer as a tutor please call 371-3978 or email whatcomlearninglab@comcast.net

Whatcom Learning Lab gratefully acknowledges the Bellingham Food Co-op for awarding us a grant to our scholarship fund. The grant will allow us to continue to offer affordable reading tutoring to the children of Whatcom County.