About Independent Learning Tools

Independent Learning Tools is a tutoring business specializing in remediating dyslexia.  Independent Learning Tools matches skilled instructors with struggling students and uses the research based Wilson Reading System to teach those students how to read and spell so they can learn effectively on their own. Started in 2002, Independent Learning Tools has worked with over 100 students to provide them with literacy skills.  Most students who complete remediation with Independent Learning Tools are mainstreamed into regular education environments and have gone on to study and pursue careers which capitalize on their strengths and talents.


Catrina Hays

Catrina Hays has had the pleasure of working with dyslexic students for twenty years. She began her career as a special education teacher, working in public as well as parochial schools. Catrina earned National Board Certification for the first time in 2000 and again in 2010. She was awarded Honorable Mention by the local branch of the International Dyslexia Association for her collaboration with administration, regular and special educators to provide high quality instruction to her dyslexic students in 2001.

Catrina established Independent Learning Tools in 2002 with the goal to provide students with high quality instruction in reading and spelling. She has personally taught over 100 students to read, but has also instructed over 800 teachers in how to teach students to read and spell using the Wilson Language System. In addition, Catrina is highly trained in administering and interpreting academic testing; she has completed well over 1200 evaluations of students with a variety of learning needs.

Her passion to ensure that all students become literate is infectious. The results she obtains with students are life-changing.

Wilson Language Trainer − July 2005

Presentations include Two-Day Overview, Three-Day Intervention, Fundations, Level I Start-up Day and Implementation Meetings as well as observations (5 per participant) for Level I Training.

Wilson Reading System Level Two − July 2004

Completed 60 lessons of group instruction in Steps 1-6.  Completed 60 hours of individual instruction with a student on Steps 7-12.

Wilson Reading System Level One − July 2002

Completed coursework in Steps 1 – 6 and 75 hours of lessons with a student to implement the step-by-step measurable method to remediate struggling readers, especially those with dyslexia.

National Board Certification in Exceptional Needs − Nov 2000 & Nov 2011

Completed 10 item portfolio (including two videotapes of my teaching) and a 6 hour exam.  Only 28% of exceptional needs candidates obtained certification in 2000.

  • IL Master Special Teaching #1780634

MA in Special Education (Learning Disabilities): University of Arizona (1996)

Pursued course of study under the INTERSTELLAR Program grant with coursework in the areas of Learning Disabilities, Speech & Language, Language, Reading & Culture, Behavior Disorders.

  • Cumulative GPA 4.00 / 4.00.
  • IL Type 10 (K – 12) with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disorders

BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders: Northwestern University (1994)

Graduated with a specialization in Learning Disabilities With Distinction.  Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Mortar Board, Dean’s List.

  • Cumulative GPA 3.80 / 4.00.

1994     Departmental Academic Honors in Communication Sciences and Disorders                                   

1991     Mary Petersen Gilbert Award for Academic Achievement from the School of Speech

Private Tutor / Diagnostician/ Wilson Language Trainer − Sept 1994 – present

Independent Learning Tools, Northbrook/ Chicago, IL
Pediatric Consultation Center, Glenview, IL
Learning Techniques, Orland Park, IL
Wilson Reading System, Oxford, MA
One-to-One Learning Center, Northfield, IL
The Casey Family Foundation, Tucson, AZ
S.A.L.T. Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

  • Provide Wilson instruction in reading decoding and spelling for students aged 5 -18
  • Consult with Wilson Language and Learning Techniques to present workshops for in-service teachers in the Wilson Reading System and conduct observations for teachers training for Level 1 certification
  • Deliver academic support for students aged 5 -25 with learning disabilities and/or ADHD in the areas of language retrieval & expression, reading comprehension, reading fluency, writing, math, science, social studies and study/ organizational skills
  • Assess students with the WJ-III Psychoeducational Test Battery, C-TOPP2, GORT-5, TOWRE-2, TOWL-4, Easy CBM, WIST, TVPS to measure academic strengths and weaknesses; collaborate with neuropsychologist to share findings with parents, student, and the school
  • Teach study skills, semantic mapping, and essay-writing strategies to assist college students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD to successfully complete courses

Resource LD Teacher, Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL − Sept 2002 – June 2004

  • Instructed students in reading, writing, math, and curricular support in pull-out groups for grades 1-8; provided Wilson decoding/spelling instruction for individual students/ small groups
  • Utilized the “Framing Your Thoughts” and “Strategic Instruction Model” writing programs
  • Provided inclusion support in the regular classroom

Self-Contained & Resource LD Teacher, Daniel Wright Jr. High, Lincolnshire, IL − Sept 1997 – June 2002

  • Looped between 5th and 6th grades following same students with learning disabilities/ ADHD for a two year cycle; mainstreamed 15% of caseload into 7th grade regular education classes
  • Instructed students in reading, writing, and math for 5 hours daily; provided Wilson decoding and spelling instruction for individual students/ small groups
  • Provided inclusion support in the regular classroom
  • Assessed 25 students for LD eligibility using the WJ-III, WIAT, ARI, and curriculum-based measures; planned and presented staff in-services on the WJ-R and WJ-III
  • Mentored district and state candidates seeking National Board Certification
  • Yearbook Editor– organized student committee, designed layouts, coordinated with professional photographers/administration, took pictures for and compiled 5 yearbooks

2001 Honorable Mention for the “It Takes a Village” reading award from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Resource LD Teacher, Woodland Middle School, Gages Lake, IL − Aug 1996 – June 1997

  • Provided inclusion, resource support services and spelling/writing instruction to 7th and 8th grade students at a middle school of 1,400 students
  • Co-taught math class with 1/3 of the students identified as learning disabled
  • Yearbook Editor– organized student committee, designed layouts, coordinated with staff to name pictures, took pictures for and compiled yearbook

Professionals in Learning Disabilities Board Member, Chicago, IL − Fall 2003 – May 2008

  • Provided educational therapist referrals for approximately 75 Chicagoland parents annually via telephone requests and website inquiries
  • Maintained referral and educational therapist databases
  • Participated in monthly events and board meetings

Girl World Leadership Council Mentor, Alternatives, Chicago, IL − Sept 2000 – May 2001

  • Collaborated with Alternatives staff member and met on a bimonthly basis with ten girls in the Uptown area to facilitate the growth of their independent leadership skills
  • Assisted the girls in planning and conducting a graduation ceremony for a community organization; facilitated the planning and fund raising for an end-of-year trip

Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentor, Chicago, IL − March 1998 – Aug 2000

  • Mentored two different girls in the Uptown area and provided support to their families.

Section Head, Camp Sloane YMCA, Lakeville, CT − Summers 1993 & 1994

  • Complete responsibility for a section of forty-nine children aged 7-10 years of age from a variety of racial/ economic/ cultural backgrounds; trained, scheduled, and supervised a staff of ten.