The Dyslexic Group

About Our Team And Our Story

Meet One Of The Best Dyslexia Teams In The Field

Alanna Pugh, Director

Alanna T. Pugh, MS

Executive Director, Barton Tutor

Alanna graduated from Northern Arizona University with advanced degrees in Speech Pathology & Audiology and Chemistry. She worked for Intel Corporation for 30 years and was a Director in the Worldwide Supply Chain at the time of her retirement.

“You can imagine my delight when I witnessed my 6-year-old son reading and writing his letters. As any mother would be, I was so impressed with my little boy. Kindergarten and 1st grade were no problem for Shaun. He did well in school, his teachers loved him, and all seemed right with the world for me as a parent. In 2nd grade is when I started noticing there was a problem as I discovered Shaun had merely memorized the books, I read to him as a child but could not distinguish words or sounds. His writing was lovely when he copied it from a book or the board, but he had no idea what it said. Coupled with this his 2nd grade teacher who quite frankly was terrible to him I knew that we were in for a rough ride when it came to school for Shaun.

 It wasn’t until many years and many struggles later that I did my own research and determined that Shaun might have dyslexia. I addressed it with school administrators and teachers but without success. The schools either had no one who had any experience in teaching someone with dyslexia or as in with one principal who called me “a hysterical mother” didn’t seem to really care. According to them, he was after all only one child and they had 20 others in the classroom so customizing a learning environment for him was out of the question.

The breaking point for me was as I was meeting with his High School Special Education Director and was told I needed to face facts; “Shaun would never graduate HS and he should just become a welder”. I have no problems with welders, but I knew my son and I knew that was not what he wanted for his life. Following that episode, I found a school that could support Shaun and his learning differences. He regained his self-esteem, did well in school and graduated with honors. I am so proud of him!

Although I never intended to become a Dyslexia advocate (I was busy with 2 other children and a full time career) I did. I learned so much about what children and parents need when they have a child who has dyslexia or any other kind of learning difficulty. Not only does the child and parent experience being “beaten-down” by the education system but learning becomes a burden and a chore rather than a joy.

I bring a special trio of knowledge and skills to The Dyslexic Group. I am parent of a dyslexic; I am tutor for dyslexia students and finally an advocate for our education systems and educators who want to make a difference in children and adults lives. They can make dreams come true for the people they serve and I want to be part of that.”

– Alanna Pugh

Shaun Aguilar's Headshot

Shaun P. Aguilar

Executive Director, Barton Advanced Tutor

Shaun, a dyslexic himself, is a Certified Master Barton Reading & Spelling System Tutor. He is also trained in Lindamood-Bell LiPS, Visualizing & Verbalizing Foundations of Sounds and Handwriting Without Tears. 

“I knew something was different about me pretty early in my elementary school years. I would see the other kids easily spell the words my teacher gave on weekly basis. Their papers were returned with smiley faces and mine just had red marks all over it. My only reaction to any spelling or reading was pure fear.

As I progressed through school the situation just got worse. I was being moved from class to class, different resources rooms, and eventually ignored. My mother tried to work with the schools and even hired tutors but to limited success. She finally figured out through her own research that I probably had dyslexia. Unfortunately, the school systems didn’t understand what I support I needed so frankly I didn’t get anything. I was just passed along each grade with an IEP that did nothing to help me. My self esteem was shot and I had given up. I figured I would never achieve the goals and dreams that I had for my life. It was a very dark point for me.

I am very fortunate to have a wife and mother that never gave up on me and they have always believed in my potential. The two of them encouraged me to get some tutoring to help with my dyslexia. During tutoring, I learned that nothing was wrong with me I just learned differently.

As an adult I went through the Barton Reading and Spelling System. I had finally found a program that makes sense and I began to see results right away. I felt more possibilities open up to me and I knew I wanted to help others like me. I decided to change career paths and devote my life to working with other dyslexics. I love seeing the difference I can make in a child or adults life when they succeed in something that seemed impossible.”

– Shaun Aguilar

Headshot of Kristie, a tutor for the Dyslexic Group

Kristie Hopkins

Barton Tutor

Kristie is the mother of five children and worked tirelessly to help them grow and achieve their dreams. She spent a lot of time helping her kids learn and when they struggled in school she worked with teachers to help them overcome these challenges.

Kristie is the mother of five children and worked tirelessly helping them grow and achieve their dreams. She spent a lot of time helping her kids learn and when they struggled in school would work with teachers and administrators to help them overcome these challenges. It was great to see them grow and learn. There were many teachers that cared for the kids, but the system did not always have the resources or understanding to help. 

When one of Kristie’s sons was starting High School he was diagnosed with Dyslexia. Before this he really struggled, and hated school. It was always a struggle to get him to school, and to stay at school. IEPs and well intentioned teachers were the norm, but throughout his early years he was often told to “try harder,” or to be more “focused” and he would succeed. Once she discovered he was dyslexic, he started tutoring with The Barton System. During the time he tutored his confidence increased, as he finally could see growth and success. He learned how to advocate for himself and even came to enjoy school! Learning about his dyslexia and successfully completing the tutor program made a huge difference in his life. He was able to graduate and continue to college and accomplish many of his dreams. 

When Kristie witnessed the change in her son, she wanted to become a tutor and help others enjoy this change in their lives too. Since Dyslexia runs in families Kristie’s dream was to become a tutor herself so she would be ready to help those close to her. She wants to help others gain the ability and success that her son has experienced. This is her labor of love to help others with Dyslexia. It is pure joy to see the light go on when learning “clicks” and someone can see they are succeeding, when so often they have not experienced success.

In her free time Kristie enjoys bike riding, group fitness and spending time with family.  She is thankful to join The Dyslexic Group as a tutor and have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and adults.

Bryant Vazquez, Headshot

Bryant Vazquez

Barton Tutor

Bryant Vazquez (known to his students as Mr. B) has been working in the field of special education for the last 10 years. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with his bachelors in English, minor in Spanish, and a concentration in pre-law.

“Educators are needed now more than ever; for me it’s about providing a necessary public

service. I’ve been working in education for about a decade; with every new role I take on, I continue to be surprised by my own growth and the difference I’m making in the world. Working with The Dyslexic Group, I continue my journey, now embarking on a new chapter withchallenges I’ve not faced before, and that drives me to keep giving my all.

My plans were to attend law school and become an attorney, but as fate would have it I came upon an opportunity to work with autistic students after graduating. I realized I’d stumbled upon a new career path, from there beginning my journey in education. Flagstaff Unified School district was where I first began working as a paraprofessional for Knolls Elementary. My success in this position led to another opportunity working for Coconino High School where I worked as a Transition Specialist. In this role I worked directly with students to provide them with guidance during their time in school and most importantly helping them prepare with post-graduation plans. This role allowed me to work with a diverse group of students, on and off the spectrum.

I moved to Philadelphia in 2012, seeking a change of scenery after surviving a very serious car accident while on tour with my band at that time. Art and music have always played a vital role in my life, it’s this passion and knowledge that I bring with me to any situation which requires building rapport and trust with students. While in Philadelphia I worked as a tutor for the Philadelphia School District, to this day one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever had. I worked with students who were not only in need of academic services, but were also at risk. I used my knowledge of music and art as a gateway to reach the more difficult students– a method that continues to provide success in my work.

In 2019 I moved back to Arizona, on the cusp of the pandemic. I took a position in Yuma, AZ, working as an art and music teacher for Flex It Academy, later accepting a role as a language arts teacher. I taught integrative classrooms, working with students in primary, intermediate, and secondary grade levels. Once again I found myself in a role where I was able to transform the lives of students who’d previously struggled to find success in traditional academic settings. It was this role which led me to working more closely with students who struggled with dyslexia, and exposed me to the challenges presented when working with them.

Now, with The Dyslexic Group, I aim to not only meet but surpass those challenges, utilizing my breadth of experience to continue bringing positive change to the lives of those who need it most.”

Donna Rusch

Donna Rusch

Barton Tutor

Donna is an Arizona State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as a first grade teacher in the Kyrene School District which she loved but always wanted more time to work with her students individually. She loves that now she gets to spend time tutoring students one on one helping them succeed and grow at The Dyslexic Group.

“After graduating from ASU with my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology I worked with developmentally disabled adults in residential group homes for Community Psychology and Education Services.  This was a rewarding experience helping adults learn skills needed to live semi-independently. I decided to continue my education and completed my Masters degree in Early Childhood education so I could make a difference in young developing children.  I worked for several years teaching 1st grade in the Kyrene School District.  I loved having my own classroom with eager young minds ready to learn.   During this time I met my husband and we began growing our family, 3 sons and 1 daughter. I was fortunate to be able to work from home as my husband’s office manager for his psychology practice while raising our children. They are my heart and most proud accomplishment.   While my kids were in school  I volunteered   in their classrooms whenever I could.  I taught the art masterpiece program for many years.  Volunteering gave me an opportunity to work with students in small groups and individually which allowed me to see how much of a difference just a little one on one time could make.  As much as I loved being a classroom teacher I always wished I had more time to work with my students one on one to help those that struggled. 

I have always loved to read and spent many hours reading with my children to instill in them a love of reading as well. Working with The Dyslexic Group my goal is to instill a love of reading in my tutoring students by helping them gain confidence and the skills needed to be successful.”

Marissa Wall

Marissa Wall

Barton Tutor

Marissa is an artist and educator passionate about supporting neurodivergent learners. She spent her early childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she first fell in love with both nature and reading anything and everything she could get her hands on. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University in Art Education, specializing in illustration, with a minor in English Education. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, painting, and baking. 

“I have always loved to read, as a way to learn and to stretch my imagination. My earliest experience with teaching was when I would help my younger siblings learn to read, so that they would be able to share my passion for a good story.  In my professional career, I have gained a variety of teaching experiences from tutoring college students in English, to substitute teaching K-12 in all subjects. 

In 2021, I took a chance on a job offer as a middle school ELA teacher in central Phoenix, and moved cross-country in August with my fiancé. During that year of teaching, I worked with many incredible students facing a variety of educational barriers.  As I learned more about how to best support each student, I realized that I was drawn towards working in a less traditional role.

I chose to reassess my next career steps and look into roles where I would be able to make more of an impact on individuals. I was fortunate to find The Dyslexic Group which provides just such an opportunity. I enjoy integrating play into our tutoring sessions to help my students feel more comfortable, and I am always brainstorming creative ways to cater my tutoring to each of my students’ unique strengths and interests. 

Outside of work you can find me spending time with my cats and husband; working on some type of creative project; drawing; roller skating; or hiking around the Phoenix area.”

Carrie Powers

Carrie Powers

Barton Tutor

Carrie chose to join the team at The Dyslexic Group because we truly understand dyslexia and have created a place that supports dyslexic learners of all ages.

“I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in elementary school.  I have now been teaching for 18 years, and there’s nothing else I would rather be doing. I grew up in Wisconsin and earned my teaching degree at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. I began teaching English learners at an elementary school in Virginia and moved to Arizona 7 years ago. Since then, I have been a Reading Interventionist and English Language Development teacher. In 2020, I became certified as a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner. I am also a LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) trainer for my school district. In December, I will complete my Masters of Reading degree.

I love teaching because I can combine my literacy knowledge with creativity to design interventions tailored to individual students.  I am fascinated by the process of learning to read and love seeing my students grow and gain confidence.

I live near South Mountain with my husband, two daughters, and two crazy dogs. I enjoy hiking every morning with my dogs, who give me many ideas for the stories I like to write for my students.”

The Deep Roots To The Dyslexic Group

“The Dyslexic Group is a family-owned business that is deeply rooted in our own family’s history. We come from a long line of educators, so it is upon their shoulders that we stand today. Rosemary Castillo Timmons, Alanna’s mother and Shaun’s grandmother was a teacher and a reading specialist. Unfortunately, she died before Shaun was two, so she was unable to help with his reading difficulties, but her legacy is one of the primary reasons that Shaun and I decided to open The Dyslexic Group.

Rosemary had a firm belief that reading was not only an important skill but an essential one. She believed it was a way to achieve your dreams and we share that belief at The Dyslexic Group. Our mission is to provide our students and their parents with the knowledge and skills to be able to navigate the life challenges that come with dyslexia. We are constantly working to provide the best individualized academic therapy programs for each of our students utilizing proven methods to achieve optimum results.”

– Alanna T. Pugh, Executive Director