If you have a child with a learning difficulty, Roanne Ornelles wants you to know that your child is in good company! Some very famous people struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder or dyslexia and learned to overcome their disability and highlight their talents. The list includes Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jim Carrey, Michael Phelps, and Agatha Christie.
Roanne explains that children with learning difficulties are often bright with above average intelligence. Once they can discover and acknowledge their pocket of giftedness, frustration diminishes and success follows. Canterbury is happy to welcome Roanne as its new Lower School Learning Specialist.
Roanne is from Hawaii, and her husband, David, was also born in there. They both left to attend graduate school in Boston. While this is Roanne’s first year working in Greensboro, she and her family have been living in Winston-Salem since 1993. David is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Their grown daughter now lives in Spain, and they have a son who is a senior in high school. While Roanne loves the four seasons of North Carolina, she misses the climate in Hawaii enough that her family goes back twice a year.
An early career as a teacher led Roanne to become a learning specialist when she noticed kids struggling in the classroom. She saw what a difference new learning approaches and extra help made in their lives. Roanne loves to help demystify learning disabilities for her students. Helping them understand how their brains work and emphasizing each child’s strength opens up new worlds for them. She sees her students’ self-esteem flourish after being taught new approaches to academics.
“With all the pressure to be good at everything these days, its hard for kids to focus on things they are good at and things they love!”
A typical day at Canterbury for Roanne is spent working with small groups of two to six K-4 students for 30 minute periods, usually meeting two or three times per week. She focuses on multi-sensory approaches to presenting material: auditory, visual and tactile. Her favorite aha moment with a student is when a child having difficulty reading finally “cracks the code” and falls in love with books as a result. Head to Roanne’s Haiku page for more links, helpful tips and videos.
Roanne thinks Canterbury is a special place because of its close-knit staff and the warm, community feeling around the school. She is happy working with students, but she also enjoys communicating with teachers and parents and answering questions about students across the learning spectrum.
Say hello to Roanne next time you see her on campus!
Canterbury would like to express its sincere sympathy to Roanne and her family following the recent loss of her mother.
Katie Hu is the parent of Brady (4th-Hoover), Maggie (2nd-McIlwain) and Mason (2025). Her favorite part of Canterbury is the chapel and the teachers. She loves a quiet walk in the woods, yoga, and a tall glass of kale afterwards.