Learning to Live and Teach with Dyslexia

A lifetime struggle to succeed in school inspires a Westmont senior to pursue a teaching career.

Paige Greene ’13 has struggled academically most of her life. During her junior year of high school in Centennial, Colo., her challenges intensified. She was falling farther behind, while her peers were succeeding with much less effort. “I was the girl they didn’t know what to do with,” she says. “I was slowly getting lost in the shuffle, and it finally caught up with me.”

That year she was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that impairs her reading fluency and comprehension. Paige had wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten, and the diagnosis added further inspiration. “I was the kid who learned differently from my peers, and my teachers never recognized it or didn’t know how to deal with it,” she says. Paige immediately enrolled in the Denver Academy, an alternative learning school, where she spent a year and a half and found ways to succeed in a classroom setting.

“God had started me on this journey, wanting me to be a teacher, and these roadblocks were His plan to instill that passion,” she says. “I don’t learn the same as everyone. I have to read things multiple times, and I have to do quite a lot of extra steps. I understand what it’s like for students who can’t learn the same way as others.”

When Paige applied to Westmont, she wasn’t sure she would be admitted. Her mother was concerned that Paige couldn’t excel with Westmont’s rigorous academics.

“Much to my mom’s chagrin, I received the congratulations folder, and I ran downstairs and showed it to her,” Paige says. “She was very excited but nervous for me. Then I sat up straight and said, ‘Mom, I am a cockroach, and I will not be squished. I am going to Westmont.’

“I was determined to be successful, and I had the drive. It felt so right, and I knew that I would have professors to talk to and other resources available to me.”

Paige used the tools she had learned at the academy to flourish at Westmont, taking courses loaded with lectures. “It was difficult, but in the beginning, I found classmates who understood the lectures and would allow me to compare my notes to theirs,” she says. “When I studied for tests, I found people who could help me go over the information again. If there were study groups I was always there. And then I would talk to professors and let them know what I struggled with and why I did poorly on the test, and I was able to work with them. I never needed Westmont’s special services because I already had those tools from the Denver Academy.”

While a student at Westmont, Paige has served as an admissions tour guide, volunteered as a member of the Orientation core team, and supported several homeless people in the Santa Barbara community.

During a semester in her junior year, she traveled to New Zealand for the Creation Care Study Program, taking courses in ecology and sustainability. “They were all experiential,” she says. “We spent two weeks walking through different forests and taking notes on plants and trees that we found. I loved being a student, but I was imagining myself as a teacher in that setting. Not everyone learns the same way, and I want to teach all types of students by using experiences in life and not solely by having them read books.”

Paige, a liberal studies major with an emphasis in the life sciences, plans on applying to earn her teaching credential. “I took every type of class imaginable, which forced me to draw connections and better prepared me to be a teacher,” she says. “I have developed a larger worldview while at Westmont, seeing that people are created differently. God has given us all different talents, goals and aspirations, and I really love how unique each person is.”

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