Dr. Susan Whittaker
Founder of Jolly Reading

Jolly Reading

Dr. Susan Whittaker, founder of Jolly Reading, worked in the Illinois Public School system for 16 years. As an early childhood specialist for 8 years, she worked with children with disabilities ranging from mild speech and language delays to severe handicapping conditions. For the remaining 8 years, Susan taught kindergarten in classes that included a strong emphasis on English language learners as well as inclusive children with special needs. In 2013, Susan joined an SEN school in Slough, UK where she became the Department Head in the Autism Provision and the Curriculum Leader in English/Literacy. Susan is currently a Principal in a school for autism, in New York, servicing early intervention through age 21.

Susan possesses a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English from Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario; a Masters in Teaching (MAT) from National Louis University, Chicago, Illinois; A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification from the University of Toronto (Teaching English to Arabic Speakers and Teaching Business English) and, a Doctor of Education (EdD) from Aurora University, Aurora, Illinois. Her dissertation entitled “Response to Intervention (RtI) – Effectiveness in Kindergarten Reading Achievement” was completed in May, 2013. Susan was a speaker at the annual dissertation conference at Aurora University in September, 2012 as well as a speaker at the 2014 Jolly Phonics Conference – “U.S. Research in Synthetic Phonics”.

A note from Susan:

When finishing my doctorate in curriculum and instruction, I was dismayed at the research regarding reading delays. Many children continue to leave elementary school with inadequate reading skills:

  • 33% of fourth graders are reading below average (NCES, 2011)
  • 5% of Black students and 84% of Hispanic students are reading below grade level (Children’s Defense Fund, 2010)
  • the most serious academic difficulty for 80% of students with LD is reading

This research prompted me to look at my own practice, at the Kindergarten level, and research a reading program that resulted in success. I found it……Jolly Phonics, which includes both Jolly Phonics (pre-school through K) and Jolly Grammar (first through fourth grade)!

I began a very comprehensive program, at the kindergarten level, using Jolly Phonics as my foundation program. The results, in standardized tests, revealed a remarkable increase in children’s reading scores in comparison to data secured in previous years. The highlight of this data was that English Language Learners, as well as students with special needs, were scoring the same as or sometimes above some of their English speaking and typically developing peers. Due to my own classroom success, I began providing consultation, sales and training support for Jolly Phonics through my own company Jolly Reading. Through this venture, I have been enriched by my liaison with a worldwide network of teachers who have found success with the program. I am fortunate to attend annual global conferences with Mr. Chris Jolly, Managing Director of Jolly Learning ( as well as the authors of the program, Sue Lloyd and Sara Wernham. In my role as an administrator, I have continued to implement and design reading programs, using synthetic phonics, in special education schools, primarily with children with autism.

I invite you to look at Jolly Phonics for your school district. If you are already using Jolly Phonics, I would enjoy providing additional training and insight into the program. If this is your first introduction to Jolly Phonics, I would welcome your time in discussing the program with you. I am passionate about the reading gains secured through the implementation of this program.


Training and support services are available upon request at: