Student Haleigh Pearson’s struggles with dyslexia inspire passion for teaching

Jan 03, 2023
Haleigh Pearson (front, center) and family (Courtesy photo)

Inspired by her own personal struggles with dyslexia, first-year student Haleigh Pearson is earning a degree of difference from Newman University.

Discovering a sense of community at Newman

Pearson grew up as the second oldest of four siblings on a farm outside the small town of Beloit, Kansas. She was very active throughout high school with activities like volleyball, softball and student council. She also spent her summers working on the family farm.

Pearson chose to attend Newman University because it’s one of few places in Kansas that offer her degree program, early childhood unified education.

Haleigh Pearson
Haleigh Pearson (Courtesy photo)

“This degree gets me certified to teach elementary education (K-6) or early childhood education (birth through 3rd grade),” Pearson explained.

She added, “During the campus tour, I felt a sense of community here, and I also heard Newman was big on service projects, which are two main values in my life.”

Recognizing her calling

Pearson was initially inspired to pursue teaching as a career because of her dyslexia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia is defined as “a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).” Also referred to as a reading disability, “dyslexia is a result of individual differences in areas of the brain that process language.”

Pearson made it to the Sub-State Championship in girls' volleyball in 2021. (Courtesy photo)
Pearson made it to the sub-state championship in girls’ volleyball in 2021. (Courtesy photo)

“I was told that I had dyslexia late in the game, so I watched some of my teachers find new ways to help me succeed, which inspired me to be one of the teachers who takes time to look at them as a person and not just a student,” she said.

Pearson, an ASC Scholar, recently wrapped up her first semester at Newman — an experience she feels has been great thus far.

My past teachers who have shown me great examples of the kind of teacher I want to be to my students have also impacted me.

Haleigh Pearson, first-year Newman student

“I have met a lot of fantastic people in my time here,” she said. “I made sure right away to get involved on campus, and this allowed me to meet many people and get comfortable here quickly.”

Pearson attends all the campus sporting events she can, as well as Campus Ministry gatherings. She also enjoys playing in intramural sports and working in the president’s office. Additionally, Pearson keeps busy with the Newman softball team.

Pearson and her mom on move-in day at Newman University.
Pearson and her mom on move-in day at Newman University.

She plans to graduate with her teaching degree in three years, after which she’ll move back to her hometown to teach in the same school that made her the person she is today.

When asked who’s impacted her journey thus far, Pearson is quick to call out her parents and three siblings.

“They’ve shown me what a great work ethic looks like and have supported me every step of the way in all that I am a part of,” she said. “My past teachers who have shown me great examples of the kind of teacher I want to be to my students have also impacted me.”

BS in Early Childhood Unified Education

The Early Childhood Unified program at Newman provides students with the educational background necessary to implement developmentally appropriate practices.