September 26, 2010

USA: Never too old to learn to read

MIDDLETOWN, Connecticut / Middletown Press / Life / September 24, 2010

By Justin Kloczko, Middletown Press

HADDAM — Warren Borent, 65, turns the page of a full-color reading workbook and slowly sounds out the words.

“I... am... at... the... park.”

He grips a pencil and traces the word “at.”

Borent is learning how to read.

Higganum resident Jennifer Rosado, a teacher works on a sight word search puzzle with Warren Theodore Borent, 65 who is mentally disabled and has been learning to read for the last two years. Catherine Avalone

Born and raised in Moodus, Borent is sitting on a table in the backyard of the Brian House, a small group home for the mentally disabled off Route 154. Scattered around him are reading exercises and a copy of National Geographic, which he hopes to read someday.

Borent, who is developmentally disabled, started reading about two years ago. One day, he told David Kyle, who runs the Brian House, that he wanted to learn how to read. They sought out an ad and every Wednesday, a tutor comes to help him with his reading exercises.

“He’s doing really well,” said Jennifer Rosado, an elementary school teacher from New Hartford who has been helping him.

Borent went to Nathan Hale-Ray School, but stopped attending school after sixth grade. Asked why he never learned how to read, he said “I never tried before.”

With short, thinning hair and the demeanor of a genteel child, Borent speaks with his head slightly tilted down and his eyes up as he talks about his brief school experience.

“Other kids were a little different,” he said. “They didn’t know much how to help me.”

With no special education teachers available to him then, Boren never got the assistance he needed, so he went to work on the family farm.

Today, he works in a lumberyard in Watertown, where he has worked for the past 24 years, taking public transportation each morning to get to work. On Wednesdays, he pulls out various Sight Word work books, practicing basic words like “all” or “at.”

Rosado approaches her time with Borent the same way she would working with a child learning how to read for the first time, she said.

“At first we tried out different things, and some things were more interesting than others for him,” Rosado said.

She assessed where he was skill-wise and started from there, she said.

“He’s got a really good memory for remembering these words,” said Rosado.

Borent finds simple pleasure in word puzzles, word searches, and flipping through automobile magazines and the sports section, he said. But being able to read for himself, he said, “keeps your mind occupied.”

Justin Kloczko
© Copyright 2010 The Middletown Press