The Gift of Dyslexia: Megan's Story
“There is no right or wrong way of doing something; there is only your way.”
Those words have stuck with Megan Phillips Cowell, a Product Manager for the Home Depot Company, since her fifth and sixth grade years at Swift School.
Two people synonymous with the Swift School name – founder Gail Swift and 20-plus-year employee Donna Cherry - influenced Megan during her time at the school.
“Gail was a special person,” Megan stated. “She was one of the biggest advocates and champions of us and our success. Gail was a calming person who lit up every room she walked in because of her positive demeanor. Gail will always hold a special place in many people’s hearts because she stepped up and opened a place where kids can get the help they need to succeed and really embrace the power of dyslexic thinking.”
LinkedIn now considers dyslexic thinking a skill, and rightfully so. Doubt it? Refer back to Megan’s quote. For someone who is right-brained, achieving a solution might look different than what is typically considered “right.” But there is no right or wrong way, just your way.
Megan stepped into Mrs. Cherry’s classroom as a slow reader who struggled to keep pace with her peers and comprehend what she was reading. Furthermore, she had a delayed response to questions, and those issues caused her to feel like something was wrong. Nothing was wrong, but she had not been in a classroom full of dyslexic thinkers – people like herself. The transformation, according to Megan, was powerful.
“About six months after I came to Swift School, I remember feeling different. I was excited to get home and tell my parents about my day, and I was enthusiastic about school and excited to attend. I became more confident and motivated to try new things. I used to be afraid because I thought I would fail. I was a happier, more confident kid who finally felt like she was good enough and belonged.”
Swift School’s Characteristics of Professional Excellence paint the picture of attributes of educators at Swift School – those called to engage day-after-day with some of the world’s brightest dyslexic thinkers. Chief among the list of characteristics are two words – uncommonly compassionate. To Megan, that describes Mrs. Cherry perfectly; she is a calm voice for a student struggling to emerge from stormy seas and understand that they learned differently. Mrs. Cherry played an integral role in Megan’s life.
“[Before Swift], I struggled to keep up with my classmates academically,” Megan remembered. “Mrs. Cherry is one of the biggest reasons I am who I am today. She gave me the skills, and most importantly, the confidence, to know that I can excel in everything I put my mind to.”
Fast forward to college, and the confidence Mrs. Cherry instilled in stayed with Megan. During her time under Mrs. Cherry’s tutelage, Megan was intent on becoming a veterinarian and even earned a scholarship to Texas A&M University as a Pre-Vet major. Two years later, she pivoted and decided to enter the technology field.
Today, Megan oversees a team of engineers and designers that build Home Depot’s tool rental website. The mindset of not being put into the box of right and wrong answers helped her become comfortable with her diagnosis.
“That mindset helped me realize that being dyslexic is a unique gift, almost a superpower, and I would not trade it for the world. Dyslexic thinking gives me this innate power to solve complex problems, think innovatively, and bring out-of-the-box creativity to my team. Cognitive diversity is crucial for workplace productivity, which makes [individuals with] dyslexia an imperative part of any team.”
Swift School adopted the moniker “shine on” to encourage its students to make their mark on the world, and Megan echoed the same message.
“Being dyslexic is not a disability. Being dyslexic is a gift, and Swift will help you learn how to tap into that gift and use it. Before you know it, you will forget you have dyslexia. You are all rock stars, and I cannot wait to see you shine.”
Start your family’s Swift School journey today. Click the button to submit an inquiry and learn more about how Swift can serve your child with dyslexia.