Achieve Learning Centres

Learning the Business of Achievement


By Lisa Schwarz


Lisa 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.



I was 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.

After 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.

Over 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.

I 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.

I 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.

At 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.


LINK: Achieve Learning Centres website.



Story appears in

HobbyFirm Magazine

Volume 1., Issue 1


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