Teacher’s tricks make memory fun
By LISA DEMER
Tribune Staff Writer
SAN ANTONIO — Can you name all of the U.S. presidents — In order? How about reciting the 50 states alphabetically? Their capitals, too? Pupils can at Saint Anthony School, a private Catholic school in San Antonio with about 200 kindergarten-through-eighth-grade pupils.
Sister Roberta Bailey, the school principal, credits educator Margaret Gornik with teaching the children memory skills that enable them to rattle off facts at ever-increasing speeds.
“She’s dynamic,” the principal said.
Gornik’s technique seems to stress confidence-building as much as memory-building.
“Who can say the presidents in under a minute? We need to say them fast,” Gornik asks a class of enthusiastic fifth-graders. One student not only recites the presidents quickly but also says the list backward.
“That’s very good,” Gornik said, leading the class in applause. “All of you can do them backward. You just haven’t discovered that yet.” Gornik, who has traveled across the country splitting her time be twee teaching and tennis, has been drilling facts into the heads of Saint
Anthony pupils through pictures and songs on a volunteer basis for several weeks.
A public school teacher and reading specialist in Cleveland for seven years, Gornik switched to Torin children privately in 1977. She attracts pupils by sparking their parents’ interest through her volun tee work at schools and by word of mouth.
Her self-designed approach draws on Evelyn Wood’s speed- reading techniques and Dale Carne give’ self-improvement philosophies, among others. “I’ve gathered eclectically the best I could get together on memory self-esteem, motivation, and is Henin skills,” Gornik said. “I’m still
not done.” She readily acknowledges her time outside schools does not come cheap. She charges $85 an hour for one-on-one lessons and $35 an hour