By Sarah Miller, Speech-Language Pathologist/Certified Dyslexia Specialist
What do you want to be when you grow up? I could never answer this question with the title of a profession but answered by simply saying that I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives.
Born and raised in Westlake, OH, I graduated public high school and decided to attend Ohio University. On a whim, using an ancient phone system to register for classes, I registered for an elective course called, Introduction To Communication Disorders. I had no idea at the time, but God placed me in this class as the first step in beginning a life living in the fullness of God’s purpose. I listened to hours of lectures and read hundreds of text book pages learning about signs, symptoms, and treatments for speech disorders, voice disorders, swallowing disorders, fluency disorders, neurological disorders, social communication disorders, developmental disabilities, phonological processing disorders, language disorders, and dyslexia. I can vividly remember the uncomfortable, 1/2 desk style seat I was sitting in when my professor stood in front of the class and gave a lecture about me. Yes, me. This wasn’t her intention, but she described my exact experience at home and at school and gave it a name…dyslexia. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me this before?! I lived most of my childhood being told that I was a very smart kid and that I just needed to try harder, practice more, and apply myself. Thankfully, I had very involved parents with adequate resources to help guide me through school every step of the way even though they too would let words slip out that were far from encouraging at times. I learned important skills such as the ability to charm and convince teachers to give me extra time, use my notes, and/or alter my grades because consequences occurred with grades lower than a B. Can anyone guess what profession I decided to pursue after that life changing college class?
I graduated from Ohio University and continued my education by earning a Master’s degree from The Ohio State University in Speech-Language Pathology. Go Bucks! After that, I moved back to Westlake and began working for a non-profit in inner city Cleveland as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). I pursued extra training to become a certified dyslexia specialist and sought out mentorship from anyone with vast knowledge in language learning disabilities. After 5 years, I decided to start my own private practice focusing on school-age children with speech disorders and language learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
God led our family to WCA last year when we enrolled our oldest son (Cole, 9) after previously homeschooling. This year, Blake joined the WCA family as a Kindergartener and I partnered as the SLP in God’s perfect timing with the theme of Imago Dei. In the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for any Child by Cheryl Swope, she wrote, “With the firm grounding in the basics of classical education, one can begin to modify for an individual child’s needs without losing the aims and purposes essential to this rich tradition.” It is my goal to come alongside our talented teachers and families to best support children and their specific learning needs so they can thrive in classical Christian education. I reinforce to my students that they are created in the image of God and that great minds often don’t think alike or learn alike. In John 16:33, Jesus reminds us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter the challenges we face, as Christian parents and educators, we can be assured that Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. WCA has become my home away from home as I spend most of my days working as the SLP or volunteering in the classrooms. When we are not at school, our family enjoys an active lifestyle and we are probably one of the few looking forward to the cold and snow that allows us to spend as much time as possible skiing the hills (wish we had mountains) of Ohio. I am honored to be a part of the WCA family and look forward to continuing to provide speech and language services to the WCA students this year and for years to come.
I can finally answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I want to be the person I needed in my life when I was young and be that person for other children and their families.