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Goggleye recounts struggles of dealing with dyslexia all the way through graduate school

WILLMAR — The struggle of growing up with dyslexia stays with Todd Goggleye, even as an elementary principal with a master’s degree.

Goggleye, principal of Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar, recently recalled the challenges he faced as a little kid who saw things differently from others.

His single mom, raising three kids on her own in Minneapolis, couldn’t afford a tutor, but a pair of retired teachers, Margaret and Paul Henke, became surrogate grandparents for the family.

For several years, Margaret Henke picked him up after school every day and took him to her home to work on reading and writing. “She would push me and push me,” he said.

By middle school, he was doing OK, he said. High school was harder, with more new information coming at him quickly. His learning disability became a bigger issue once he got to Bethel University in the Twin Cities.

“I broke down many times, thinking why can’t I get this,” he said.

The football coaches at Bethel knew about his dyslexia, and he could share his problems with them.

Goggleye read many textbooks two and three times while he was in school. He took a human anatomy class three times before he passed it, because it required so much memorization.

He nearly dropped out soon after he started graduate school at St. Mary’s University. His wife, Megan, pushed him to keep going, and she helped proofread the numerous papers he had to write there.

Multiple choice tests were always difficult for him. He could visualize where the answer was in his notes, he said, but he would second-guess himself when presented with choices. He preferred essay tests, because he could demonstrate his knowledge better there. Many teachers accommodated his needs, but not all.

When he struggles or sees a student struggling with something, he goes back to handwritten notes from his mother and Margaret Henke from elementary school, now tucked safely inside a clear plastic sheet protector.

“I think, ‘How do we move this student forward,’” he said, and searches for inspiration from his past. “I remember where I am and how far I’ve come.”

Read more about how Goggleye is using his experiences to help students at Kennedy Elementary by clicking here or the link above.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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