Faculty Advisor

Faculty Advisor, Margaret Koontz

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. Some show and some don't. Mine didn't and for a child growing up in the '50s that was both a bad thing and a good thing. It was a bad thing because teachers didn't understand why a student who scored highly on the standardized tests couldn't learn to add and subtract or copy things off the chalkboard accurately. It was a good thing because students with learning difficulties were marginalized or categorized as slow." I was able to remain mainstreamed as I figured out ways to keep up and to get the work done. It was a bad thing because I was constantly being reprimanded for "not working up to my potential." It was a good thing because it forced me to develop natural talents, to discover other ways of understanding subject matter. It was a bad thing because everyone was constantly giving me "study habits coaching" that worked for them, but would never work for me.

I could understand it. I could score 100% if I could just sit and tell you the answers. The problem came with the disconnect between what was in my head and what I was able to physically put down on paper. I was a college graduate in my first teaching job when I first heard the term dyslexia. We went to a workshop and I learned a lot. But it didn't quite match up to what I was dealing with. Fifteen years later when my youngest son, Steve, was diagnosed with a cluster of learning disabilities I finally had a name for what I had dealt with my whole life. It was called an audio/visual perceptual handicap. He had special Educational Therapy classes and a teacher who supervised his workload. By high school he had the adaptive tools he needed and never asked for special accommodation. He went on to UCSD and earned a B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing. His first novel is done and ready for his agent. In the meantime I went back to school and earned a M.Div. in Church and Family Ministries. Yes, there were bumps along the way. Adapting doesn't mean the disabilities go away. Often you will work twice as hard as the one sitting next to you to get the same task completed. But more often you will use what you've learned to help someone else figure it all out.

I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of an honor society that recognizes the challenges and the triumphs of students who excel in spite of/because of the disabilities that are a part of their everyday life. The rewards for keeping at it and doing it well far exceed the difficulties along the way.

Margaret