Schwarz’s experience in the education system, while coping
with a diagnosis of dyslexia, could have hindered her but she
has leveraged it into a business plan. She is now co-founder
of Achieve Learning Centres in Vancouver, Canada.
never diagnosed as dyslexic until I reached my second year of
university and started taking psychology classes. My abnormal
psychology professor focused an entire section on learning
disabilities and how they present themselves. Most of the
signs and symptoms of dyslexia and ADHD seemed to describe me.
I finally got assessed for learning disabilities in 1996. At
that time, I was diagnosed gifted, dyslexic, having
dyscalculia (math dyslexia) and ADHD.
Despite the fact that I was not officially diagnosed as a
child, my parents did hire a tutor to help me learn how to
read, write and spell. I still credit my own tutor Carol Dodds
as being the main person who helped me overcome my struggles
with learning. Without her help I doubt I would have been able
to read, write and spell at the level necessary to eventually
obtain a masters degree in social anthropology from Dalhousie
University in Halifax, NS.
graduating from university with two degrees, I attempted to
enter into the work force. I soon discovered that I had very
few viable skills needed to succeed. I began to work as a
temporary office worker in Vancouver, BC. I was responsible
for filing, data entry, reception, and administrative
assistant work. This is when my dyslexia and ADHD reared its
ugly head once again and made me feel like a failure. My
learning disabilities prevented me from completing these
simple tasks accurately, and I was ‘reassigned’ from every job
I was placed at.
Feeling lost and quite low, I began a soul-searching journey,
which led me to The Learning Disabilities Association of
Vancouver, where I discovered the Orton-Gillingham Therapeutic
Tutoring method. I knew instantly that this was what I was
meant to do with my life. I have an innate gift of working
with children who struggle in the same ways I did.
the years I have worked at several learning centers and
private schools in the Vancouver area. Despite the wonderful
work that I was doing and all of the young lives that I
touched, I still longed for something more.
knew that once again I had to take a risk in order to carve
out my own place in the world. Last year I opened up my own
tutoring business in Vancouver, BC. I am currently the
co-owner of Achieve Learning Centres.
still live with my dyslexia every day however, I have been
able to find a wonderful business partner, who is strong in
the areas where I still struggle.
the moment I have three tutors working underneath me whom I am
mentoring. I also have several of my own students. Even though
we are still in the first year of business, we are very close
to being a very successful learning centre.
Learning Centres website.