How did you get where you are today 

My journey to where I am now, the owner/director of the Multisensory Language Training Institute of NM (MLTI-NM), began with a substitute teaching job I had at Wingate High School outside of Gallup, N.M. in the mid-‘70s. It was there where I first encountered  adolescents who desperately wanted to read but lacked the basic skills – they were reading at the second grade level.  

This was the catalyst that led to my earning a Master’s degree at the University of Arizona where I learned first-hand that some reading delayed students simply had never been taught correctly – and others were truly dyslexic. Years later, after moving to Taos, my interest in the truly dyslexicled me to find Sandra Dillon, the author and founder of MLTI-NM, who had created her Sounds In Syllables approach while teaching for over 20 years for Albuquerque Public Schools. She’s been my mentor ever since. 

I credit two Taos Municipal Schools Special Education Coordinators for their support: Charlene Gonzales (wife of Sen. Bobby Gonzales) for encouraging me to pilot Sounds In Syllables at Taos Junior High School back in 1990 and the late Jeanelle Livingston for continuing to support me and expand the MLTI-NM training to other educators during the late ’90s and early 2000s.  

Finally, as a veteran educator with no business background, I want to credit Anwar Kaelin and UNM-Taos’ Small Business Development Center for encouragement and practical support in my purchase of MLTI-NM.  

How many  years involved in your various endeavors? Of what are you most proud?

I’ve been nationally certified as a dyslexia therapist since 1992, so I’d say that’s when my single-minded commitment to this field really began. I’m probably most proud of my tenacity in looking for answers to why my students in Gallup and Tucson couldn’t read. As a trainer of dyslexia therapists, I continue to see that same tenacity in teachers from all over the state and it gives me hope. They enroll in MLTI training because “nothing else worked’ and they refuse to give up on their students. 

If you possible, what advice would you give your teenage self?  

I would tell my teenage self to exercise more – to play outside like I did when I was younger; to take more science courses; and to eat fewer sugary products.  

How do you create a sane work-life balance? 

I have a wonderful husband (who loves to cook), and an extended family of children and siblings who help me think of non-dyslexia topics. I also am surrounded by a strong supportive network of teachers and therapists in Taos who are highly trained and committed.  

What do you think is the biggest issue for women right now?

I think for many women,  and actually for many people, it’s being taken seriously and being listened to and measured by their knowledge and accomplishments. I think we should all be judged by the “blue book” method my history professors in college used: they read and graded our essays and exams without knowing who we were, what we looked like, how rich or poor we were, etc.

Who are your real-life heroes?

My early students who never gave up trying despite daily failures and who caused me to search for answers, and then all my dyslexia therapy students these past 30 years who have been willing to work exceptionally hard, and have had the courage to advocate for themselves through school, college and on the job.  

What has the COVID-19 pandemic made you be more aware of than ever before?

I probably appreciate Zoom more than anything else. It’s allowed me to train teachers who wouldn’t be able to train in person here in Taos or in Albuquerque. Educators, who live on remote ranches or couldn’t leave home for two weeks for family reasons, were able to train with MLTI last summer and throughout this school year because of Zoom. I’ve also realized that teletherapy can be very successful with our more advanced students. But there’s no substitute for in-person therapy with beginning students. 

What is the main message you want Taoseños to hear coming out of this pandemic year?  

That the community has worked very hard to educate students despite COVID. I’ve been impressed to see Taos teachers rise to the challenge of online teaching and learning which for many meant doubling their prep time; to administrators who have made laptops and iPads available to their students; I’ve also been impressed with internet providers who have helped families access more bandwidth; and with families that have risen to the challenges of this school year while still trying to earn a living.  I think we’ve all come to appreciate more the strengths of in-person teaching, but we’ve also learned the potential of  online learning and teacher-to-teacher sharing involving educators from all over the country. 

Watch Mary Gilroy's 2021 Taoseña Award acceptance speech


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