Peirce Center

The Bob and Joan Peirce Center for Structured Reading Teacher Training prepares teachers to work with children with dyslexia, both in the classroom and as tutors.

The Peirce Center aims to supply a steady stream of teachers and tutors in structured reading approaches, including methods of reading instruction for students with dyslexia and other reading differences. 

The Peirce Center also provides outreach services to parents, professional development for teachers, and support for dyslexia-focused programs across the Pittsburgh area. 

The Peirces’ $2 million founding pledge is behind the center’s creation. “Dyslexia is a significant challenge for our schools. Demand is so high for specialized reading tutors that many children have to be put on waiting lists,” President Chris Howard said at the ribbon cutting event in May of 2017. “The new Bob and Joan Peirce Center is this university’s response to the challenge.

Dr. Bernadowski -- Thank you for EVERYTHING!! This program has been heaven sent! We can't believe how much our child has advanced, and we are forever grateful for this program!

- Shannon and Don Kumpfmiller

The Peirce Center for Structured Reading Teacher Training has partnered with Sto Rox Primary Center in a three year plan to improve early literacy in grades K-3 in the Sto Rox School District. With a generous grant from the Jack Buncher Foundation in 2017, RMU was pleased to partner with the teachers and administrators to implement teacher training in Heggerty Phonemic Awareness and LETRS training. 

In August of 2019, both the Reading Specialist and Structured Literacy certificates at Robert Morris University were accredited through the International Dyslexia Association. These programs can lead to certificates through the national Center for Effective Reading Instruction both at the Structured Literacy Classroom Teacher and Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist levels. 

For more information regarding the Peirce Center, contact Ashley Messner at or 412-397-6026.

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Tutoring for Students

The Peirce Center provides tutoring in structured reading methods utilizing evidence-based strategies. Tutoring takes place at the RMU Peirce Center after school and during the summer. For more information, please fill out the Tutoring Request Form

Opportunity for Teachers

Tuition scholarships may be available for both the Structured Literacy program and the Reading Specialist program. 

Structured Literacy – The Structured Literacy Program is two 3-credit eight-week courses and two semesters of practicum during the school year (on or off campus). Apply for the standalone course and/or the practicum.

Reading Specialist - The Reading Specialist program is a one-year certification program that meets the needs of working adults. Classes are offered in the evenings in eight-week sessions with an on-campus practicum. Students can pursue a Master’s in Literacy with an additional nine credits. To apply for the scholarship, please complete the Reading Specialist program application. For more information on the program, contact Dr. Carianne Bernadowski, Reading Specialist Program Coordinator, at or 412-397-5463. To apply for these programs, contact Graduate Admissions.

Professional Development for Schools

The Peirce Center can provide in-service trainings on dyslexia and structured literacy methods. Please complete the Professional Development Request Form.

For more information please contact Amy Jackson, Peirce Center Consortia Liaison, at or 412-397-6022.

Structured Literacy

The Structured Literacy Program is a 7 credit program accredited through the International Dyslexia Association. This program provides candidates, (teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, speech language pathologists, and others) who work with children in literacy,  the skills necessary to implement systematic, explicit multisensory phonics instruction to children with dyslexia and other reading differences.  

Candidates learn to administer assessments and plan developmentally appropriate structured literacy instruction for children through a practicum-based experience. After completion of the coursework and the field-based practicum, completion of the KPEERI exam is required. All course work in the Structured Literacy program is applicable to the Reading Specialist program.

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Resources for Parents

Dyslexia Parents Connection holds monthly parent support meetings north, south, and east of Pittsburgh. The Peirce Center will host the Dyslexia Parents Connection WEST meetings on campus during the 2020-2021 school year. Schedule TBD. 

To add your contact information to the DPC email list, please email

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RMU Recommends: Online K-12 Activities

With the recent school closures, teachers are moving instruction online and parents are helping to reinforce learning at home. They may need additional resources to support their children in learning, developing, and maintaining their reading and math skills. RMU faculty and students have developed a list of recommended web sites and online resources.