Program Author

About Our Program Author

Mary Lou Sundberg taught elementary school and special education for thirty years. She also held an M.A. in speech pathology from Northwestern University. While working at Lake Bluff School District 65, Mary Lou became the teacher of a student who could not recall how to draw alphabet symbols or elicit the correct sounds of the alphabet letters through traditional methods of rote memory teaching. Through focus and determination, Mary Lou designed and created neurologically integrated pictographs for each letter, transforming the abstract non-phonetic symbols of the English alphabet into meaningful phonetic letters.

Mary Lou Sundberg describes the challenges of memorizing two phonemic systems with traditional methods.

This innovation in alphabetic instruction activated both the right and left sides of her student’s brain, simultaneously teaching picture names, mnemonic motor movements that eliminate reversals, and alliterations with each letter sound (while acknowledging but not teaching the letter names). It worked so well that her student learned the entire alphabet in the following two weeks and, eventually, earned a graduate degree!

Mary Lou was a passionate educator whose lifetime contribution to the field of reading instruction greatly improved beginning literacy outcomes for the thousands of students who have received Sunform instruction over the years. Thanks to her vision, persistence, and refusal to let long term illness slow her down, it is now possible for every student to rapidly acquire their beginning letter sounds and formulations to automaticity. The people who met Mary Lou will never forget her and her amazing accomplishment.

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