Great Minds Think Differently 1

Shelley Gray, M.Ed.

Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Shelley Gray noticed her father had horrible spelling. Her family would make jokes about it, including self-deprecating ones from her dad. It wasn’t until she heard the story about her father dropping out of college because of his difficulty in keeping up with the coursework—thus ending his dream to be an architect— that she realized her dad was dyslexic.

“Spelling is actually a more accurate way to identify dyslexia than reading,” explains Gray, M. Ed., who works with dyslexic students at her Bend-based learning center, Great Minds.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) characterize dyslexia by “difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.”

“Kids with dyslexia have extreme difficulty with reading, writing and spelling, despite being smart enough, motivated and exposed,” explains Gray. “If dyslexia is identified and addressed, people can go out and do anything they want. If it’s not addressed, it can lead to a life of problems, including self-esteem issues.”

The mild-mannered Gray, also a gigging musician, began her work with dyslexia by assisting her son—who is diagnosed dyslexic—at his Montessori School in Colorado. The school soon offered her a position as Special Education teacher, provided she obtain her masters in Reading Leadership from Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado. Looking for more opportunities in education and work, Gray and her family, including her musician husband Bill Powers and their two sons, moved to Bend in 2014. She opened Great Minds earlier this year.


At Great Minds, Gray works with about a dozen students, age six to thirteen, between one and three times per week. An industry standard estimate of 100 to 200 hours of instruction—depending upon the severity—catches kids up with their classmates. Gray, who is a certified Dyslexia Screener & Consultant and holds teaching licenses in both Colorado and Oregon for Elementary Education and Special Education, employs the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) approach to helping children. The O-G approach “utilizes simultaneous, multi-sensory, direct instruction to explicitly teach the rules and patterns of our language in a logical, sequential, and systematic way.”

“Children like that I can relate to them,” says Gray. “I take our lessons and turn them into stress-free games. I like to take the element of work and turn it into fun.”