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All About the Student

“At the end of the day, it’s about the student. That’s why we do this work.”



Someone told me this recently, and of course I agreed. Ultimately, every choice I make in leading my two businesses hopefully impacts students in a meaningful way. They ARE what it’s all about!


So, can I tell you about some of my favorite students over the past 10 years? YES, I have some favorite students (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to have favorites, but it happens.)

  • My very FIRST student that got me into this field! We’ll call her [Ava.] I had been teaching for almost 20 years and I had transitioned away from the classroom and was now doing general tutoring one-on-one. Ava couldn’t read. I was stumped. I had worked mostly with preschool and kindergarten students, so I was used to kids slowly sounding out words and not being confident at reading. But a 3rd grader?? I tried everything I knew. I used materials and games and books from my stash of supplies in my “teacher closet” but nothing worked! I stumbled upon the Barton Reading & Spelling System in an online chat group for homeschool families. (I was actually homeschooling our son at the time) I also had a couple other students who also were struggling with reading, so I made the huge investment and leap of faith to try it, NOT even knowing that it was designed for kids with dyslexia. I just had heard from other parents that it helps with reading. Once I got started teaching this program, I learned quickly about dyslexia and the rest is history. I’ve had the pleasure of training almost 100 educators, 500 students, and thousands of parents and community members. And it all started with Ava. So where is she now?? She is in high school, in advanced classes, at the top of her class, loves all things science and technology, is taller than me, and overall is just an outstanding human being. I’m privileged to know her.

  • I started working with [Miley] when I was still tutoring myself without any staff yet and still tutoring from my home. She worked with me for about 3 years from 3rd through 5th grade, saw the transition to the centers and was one of my biggest supporters to expand the business, cheering me on and reminding me that “you need to help as many kids as you can Miss Joy!” She was always quite fascinated with the business side of things, asking me questions about how things like hiring and firing works, or how you figure out how much to charge clients. One of my favorite memories with Miley was when she had to create sentences, and one day she chose “Susan Barton” to be the subject or the “WHO” of her sentence. As soon as she said that name, my phone rang. It was actually Susan Barton!!! After seeing the name pop up on caller ID, we were stunned and she said, “Of course you need to answer it!” So every day after, she always chose Susan Barton for her sentence, and then waited for a minute to see if the phone would ring. Ha! I taught Miley how to read and spell, and she taught me how to draw people. (I can barely draw a stick figure person. Not my strength!) So where is Miley now?? She is about to graduate high school!! She has spent the last few years actually in classrooms teaching mostly kindergarten students, and she has a really cool vision of opening a business where she will restore an old home with each room being a different therapy modality, such as speech, occupational therapy, ADHD therapy, dyslexia therapy, and so on. She is still fascinated about business, has a heart for kids who learn differently, advocates fiercely for herself, and overall is just an outstanding human being. I’m privileged to know her.

I could go on and on and on. And maybe someday I will write a book with all the stories of these incredible people, both children and adults who I’ve been blessed to know through the world of dyslexia.


I hope you have someone in your life who has dyslexia.


Yes, there are real challenges, and they can be overwhelming at times. I will never minimize that struggle. But today I want to celebrate my students. They make my world brighter every single day.


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