In this post, we’d like to share a story about gratitude and generosity. It’s a true story and the main character is teletherapist Mindi Johanneman of Building Pathways, a Lexercise teletherapy partner.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Mindi. She couldn’t read. She really wanted to read, and tried to read, but school was a nightmare. In middle school, Mindi was reading – barely – at the second or third-grade level. Her parents searched frantically for something, or someone, that could help. Happily, they found someone: a therapist who was able to diagnose Mindi’s dyslexia and knew the Orton-Gillingham method. Slowly, surely, and miraculously, the therapist helped Mindi “crack the code” of words.
She had a long way to go. When she was a junior in high school, Mindi’s teachers, counselors, and administrators discouraged her from thinking about college. But, like many people with dyslexia, Mindi was smart, creative, hard-working, and fiercely determined. She wanted to inspire struggling readers the way she had been inspired by her own therapist. So she went to college and graduated with a degree in early childhood education. After teaching in Seoul, Korea, for two years, Mindi returned to school. She got a second degree, in special education, and taught special ed in the Cincinnati public schools for ten years.
With certification from the International Dyslexia Association, Mindi started partnering with Lexercise in 2017. She calls it “the best decision I have ever made.” As a Lexercise teletherapist, Mindi works with students all over the country. She “meets” with each student one day a week using Lexercise’s user-friendly platform. A parent is involved in each meeting. Games and reinforcement activities coordinated with each lesson help continue the learning process throughout the week.
Mindi admits that, at first, she was reluctant to share her own story with the families she worked with. But then she realized that her story was an important part of her work. “Once you know what you have and that there are ways to overcome it, dyslexia is empowering,” Mindi says. “This brain that has given me so much stress, is also this amazing gift. Some of the most amazing people – Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Thomas Edison – have had dyslexic brains. These are the creative, out-of-the-box thinkers.”
In addition to her professional knowledge, Mindi’s own experience with strategies for education, advocacy, and accommodations, is immensely valuable. “It has been really awesome to help families understand that this is not the end of the world.”
Mindi was so moved by the importance of the work Lexercise is doing that she decided to donate part of what she earns every month to the Dyslexia Services Foundation. DSF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides direct assistance to low-income families for structured literacy intervention. “After seeing what Lexercise can do, what this type of therapy can do in such a quick time period, I wanted to do something more,” Mindi explains. “What I love about DSF is that when you donate, every dollar is going to therapy for a child – every dollar goes right to reading.”
“I have dyslexia myself. That’s where my passion starts. But I am the luckiest person I know. Who gets to have a career helping people overcome something that you have?”
And who reaches into their heart and
pocketbook to express their passion, their gratitude, and their generosity?