Say hello to Headstrong Nation’s newly minted Facebook volunteers, Eileen Tait-Acker from Pennsylvania and Suzanne Edwards from Texas. Both Eileen and Suzanne have managed social media through their schools and organizations like Decoding Dyslexia. We are thrilled to have these two aboard so they can share their experiences as parents and leaders of the dyslexia movement. Also, we are still looking for a Facebook volunteer to represent the West Coast! It could be you! Learn more here.
Eileen is taking the helm of our East Coast activities, highlighting important news, events and activities happening in her region. If there are issues that you’d like to see us mention, please post to our Facebook page so Eileen can see and repost when appropriate.
Suzanne will be covering the Central region and will also look to fellow parents and leaders to help her cover important issues and stories that are relevant to the heartland.
We realize these “regions” are very large, and rounding up appropriate stories from every state may be a challenge in the beginning. That said, both Eileen and Suzanne will do their best to reflect the broadest scope possible.
Read on to hear more these two amazing women. Thank you Suzanne & Eileen for stepping up. (And to any West Coasters who are considering volunteering, get on it!)
The Headstrong Nation Team
Eileen is mom to David (16) and Evan (11). Evan is bright and dyslexic, one of those kids who didn't qualify for Special Education services in the public system, a child on the borderline between regular and Special Ed. Eileen withdrew him from public school and began teaching him at home through a public cyber charter school. Evan was re-evaluated a year later, and did qualify for services. Eileen spent the last four years as her son’s primary teacher and advocate.
Having gone through these experiences, Eileen decided to give back to her community by assisting other parents on the journey through dyslexia. It wasn't until after Evan was evaluated with a learning difference that Eileen and her husband realized how they, too, had struggled as children in the public school system of the 1970s. Neither got the kind of help they needed, and their unrecognized LDs affected their self-esteem, and every future academic and career choice they made.
"We felt like we were stupid, and we kept it all inside, not wanting to be revealed. We wanted Evan's experience to be different."
Eileen currently volunteers for Decoding Dyslexia PA. “It is my goal to prevent others from having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to getting help for their dyslexic children. If I can point someone in the right direction of supports and services, my job is done!”
Eileen's son Evan will transition to public middle school in the fall, now equipped with many self-advocacy skills. He enjoys ear-reading with Learning Ally books, loves to play games, paint, cook, bake, and be a good friend to others. As Eileen puts it, "Evan is a child who learns differently, and as we say in our household, ‘Different is Good!’”
Suzanne graduated with a BS in Education from Virginia Tech. After a career in teaching she worked as VP of Human Resources for an international acquisitions company. While both careers were incredibly rewarding, Suzanne found her passion when one of her sons was identified with dyslexia. Growing up she had always been told she, too, was probably dyslexic.
“There wasn’t much information on how to educate dyslexic learners back then. I just learned how to get by,” Suzanne says. “I figured out how to learn without reading the textbooks, because I knew it would take me too long to read them.”
When one of her sons was formally identified with dyslexia, her journey to fully understand the profile began.
“I sought out every resource I could find. I trained on the Orton Gillingham method, I attended workshops, I scoured the Internet. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. And, the more I learned how to help my son, the more I reflected on my own struggles throughout my own education.”
In her continued search for information, Suzanne came across a glowing recommendation for a book titled The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. The thought of reading a book cover to cover was painful, but something drew her to dive in anyway. “The book changed my life, and truly gave me the power and the tools to help navigate my son's dyslexia journey. It opened my eyes to the ways in which my son will have access to information throughout his education. It made me realize he would not have to just 'get by' as I did. It gave me something unexpected as well. It lifted the guilt I had always had about being a terrible eye-reader, and gave me permission to embrace ear-reading, something I had always before seen as a ‘cop-out.’”
Suzanne lives in Dallas, TX with her husband, Roger, and two sons, Jack (13) and Sam (11).