A Lighthouse in an Ocean of Dyslexia: Cindy Hall—January 2019
One in every five people have dyslexia to some degree. With good remediation techniques, and with an early start, these students can learn techniques and approaches to reading, spelling, and writing, which will enable them to keep pace with other students.
In the same way a lighthouse helps boats navigate their way through difficult waters, Faith alumna Cindy Hall (Leaf, ’80) is a beacon of light for the countless numbers of dyslexia students she has guided through difficult times of learning over the last two decades.
Cindy grew up on a farm near Boone, Iowa, and earned her degrees in Bible and Elementary Education from Faith Baptist Bible College, where her current teaching style was greatly influenced.
“I found Faith to have a very practical education department, which prepared me for stepping into a classroom of my own,” said Cindy. “For example, the emphasis on learning to develop lesson units and plans from scratch has been helpful over the years in the classroom, but has been particularly important in working with dyslexic students who benefit from many teacher-created materials. The final emphasis which has greatly impacted my teaching was an overall philosophy of teaching students rather than subjects. I saw that in action as my professors reached past their teaching podiums to bring me along when I was a student at Faith.”
Cindy has put her God-given talent of teaching to good use, spending 18 years as an elementary teacher, and she is currently the director at the Dyslexia Center at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy—a center she was hired to design and implement. With a staff of around twelve tutors and teachers, the Dyslexia Center provides assistance to fifty or more students every day for specialized instruction in reading, spelling, grammar, and writing.
Getting a dyslexia center off the ground in a Christian school setting, with an unproven program, was no easy task. The center opened in 2010 with six students and no staff members other than Cindy.
“I tried to correct each mistake I made, and to learn from each mistake,” said Cindy. “The six original students improved their language skills rapidly, and within a few years, all were back in the mainstream classroom for all their subjects. Word of that success spread, and we began to flourish.”
God has allowed Cindy to use her expertise on the topic of dyslexia to educate others in her community about the challenges of dyslexia as well. Last summer, Cindy had the opportunity to team with the American Association of Christian Schools to provide training to 30 AACS teachers to help their own students with dyslexia.
While the joys of helping others overcome learning disabilities is a huge blessing, her calling doesn’t come without hardships.
“I would tell a person considering an education degree to consider why they want to be a teacher. If it is for any reason other than they feel God calling them to teach, then they should do something else,” said Cindy. “While there are joyful and rewarding moments of every teaching day, it is also very daily, and there are few kudos or awards, so it is vital to know every single day that you walk into your classroom that you are there because God called you to this grade, these children, at this school. Assurance of God’s call on your teaching career will give you the wherewithal to make it through the difficult days because you are there by divine appointment, not because of your own whims.”
Cindy enjoys her free time with her husband, Charles, and their three children (Justin, Calvin, and Cameron) and their families. All three sons are married, with two of them residing in South Carolina and one in Alabama. The Halls have three grandchildren.
As Cindy looks back on her career and ministry to this point of her life, she says that the biggest lesson she has learned is there is great joy in serving the Lord. Her career and ministry of serving others has also convinced her that it is always worth the time and energy it takes to invest in people.
“That might be one-on-one tutoring with a student, multiple meetings with a parent, or mentoring a young teacher, but I have learned that those personal investments are what ministry is really all about.”