Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This inspirational account from the Cambridge Learning Center was selected for our first monthly Inspiration contest. (Visit here for contest details.)

Cambridge Center Director Jen Navicky said she was "absolutely delighted" when she learned her narrative had been chosen. "I think it's really important to communicate to all the Centers the success students are having," Navicky said. "I can't wait to let (the girls featured) know they won us a contest!"

In the following narrative, Jen Navicky shares the successes of two of her Center's earliest students:

Each spring I try and touch base with our graduates… These girls happen to be “firsts,” but they mirror many of the children who have attended over the past 8 years. They both spoke at the opening dedication ceremony in the Fall of 2001.

Megan Eckelbarger was one of the first 2 children tutored at the Learning Center beginning in April 2001. She was 10 years old.

Leah Green began in the fall 2001. She was also 10 years old. She became our first graduate. I remember when she came to me and said, “I have gained so much from this, and I think I can go on alone now. I want to give my spot to someone who is struggling as much as I was several years ago.”

Both girls are now 18 years old and are graduating from Mid East Ohio Career and Technology Centers in May. Megan goes to the Buffalo campus and Leah goes to the Zanesville campus. They graciously returned to share their stories.

Question: What do you remember about your reading problems before you started at the Learning Center?

Megan: I would come home and cry every night when I had to do homework. I loved school, but I just couldn’t do the work. I couldn’t read it. My mom went to the school to get me tested so I could be on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This only helped a little. My grandpa was a Mason and had watched my mom struggle with the same thing. He found out about the Learning Center and got me here.

Leah: I had lots of trouble in school especially when I had to read out loud. The other kids laughed at me. My mom had to go to school again and again and ask them to help me. My teacher, Mrs. McGuire, got me tested. Then I would go to a special room and read out of a book that was a little kid’s book. I was very embarrassed to carry it around with me. A neighbor, Mrs. Messino suggested that we contact the Learning Center because she knew what you were doing here.

When I asked them what they remembered about the tutoring sessions, they both felt the one-on-one tutoring helped them feel successful. In classes they felt like they were always behind everyone else. They also mentioned the work with the Layers of Language where we delve into Anglo Saxon, Latin and Greek prefixes, roots and suffixes. Latin words are longer and help to increase students’ vocabulary. Greek is usually used for scientific terms. Megan is finding this helpful for the complicated terms in the courses of the dental assistant program she is currently in. Leah even remembers the color of the cards she used and many of the details of the words.

Both girls remembered when things got easier for them in school. Leah remembers being able to read chapter books instead of children’s books. She was delighted with her success and would take things home to read to her mom. Megan remembers reading about famous painters. She took French in school and loved it. (French is Latin and Greek based.) She felt like she knew some of it before she began the class. She now enjoys reading to the children at her job in Zanesville.

Question: What do you see in your future?

Megan: I will graduate in May from the dental assistant program in Buffalo OH. Next I’m going to look for a job in a dentist’s office. I may also begin classes at (Ohio University Zanesville) in their radiology program. In the future, I plan to go to the expanded function dentistry program at Jefferson Community College. Someday I’d like to go to dental school and open my own dental office.

Leah: I will graduate from Mid East Career and Technology Center in Zanesville in the early childhood program. I want to help children. Next year I want to go to Ashland University. I’ve gotten an academic scholarship there and also to Muskingum College. I have had all A’s every nine weeks for two years and am President of the National Honor Society. I will complete a degree in early childhood intervention K-3; Special Education. Right now I volunteer at Central Elementary and work with some special education children. I want to be a role model for other kids who struggle. I think I can be a good example for them and encourage them to never give up. I’m proud to be the first graduate of your program and I have an obligation to help others.

Question: What would you tell other children who struggle and their parents?

Megan: Both my parents and my grandparents helped me. I’d like to tell parents that it helps their kids to pursue their goals if they have exposure to many areas. I had good experiences with my orthodontist and my eye doctor that made me want to do something similar to what they were doing. While we were tutoring, we joked about being “word nerds.” I’m glad I am one because it really has helped me!

Leah: I’d tell them, “Never give up!” This is very important for parents too. They need to keep advocating for their child. My mother was very important in my successes so far. I came a long way in a short time. I can remember when things began to get easier for me. I was afraid things would be too hard in Junior High and High School but I found I could do the work and I found many classes that I enjoyed like speech and language arts. This was a surprise for me.

Both Megan and Leah are mature, articulate and confident in their abilities. They avoided becoming discouraged because they knew they were smart but weren’t able to show this in their schoolwork.

I was particularly gratified to hear both Megan and Leah emphasize their work with Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Greek words. This knowledge improves vocabulary and reading comprehension but I hadn’t thought of the benefits when going into specialized programs like the dental program in Zanesville.

To overcome reading problems takes a complicated mix of efforts by many. Parents, the school, outside help, increased maturity, and meaningful experiences all have to be coupled with intense effort by the students. Our tutors are very proud to be members of the team helping these students. It is gratifying when all the factors fall into place.

Both girls and their family support systems are to be congratulated. They are the epitome of the wonderful 32ยบ Masonic program. They prove (once again) that our area is very fortunate to have this program funded by the Scottish Rite Masons.


Post a Comment