The Harter Family

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Kathy Harter knew this maxim well and felt great urgency in making sure her five kids, Reese, Jake, Katie, Maggie and Mei didn’t fall through the cracks educationally. Being diagnosed with dyslexia herself at an early age, Kathy knew the chances of her children inheriting learning difficulties were high. Determined not to let this define her children or create obstacles, she and her husband Ron sought out a community of support at Marburn Academy.

Kathy volunteered as a Parent Volunteer by helping with the Gala, Teacher Appreciation Week and many other school projects. All of the Harter kids intersected with the School at some point. Kathy became an advocate for support and even testified at the Ohio Legislature for the Peterson Bill along with Katie.

Kathy and Ron were noticing that Reece, their first child, was having trouble grasping on to letters and connecting words and sounds. They found Marburn Academy and enrolled him in summer school. Reece was learning and feeling so much more confident about what he was achieving. The family enrolled Reece in day school that following year. Reece is a recent graduate of OSU and is now working for CLEAResult, a company focused on energy efficiency.

Kathy & Ron’s middle child, Katie, joined the Marburn community in third grade. The family could tell that Katie was having the same challenges in school as Reece. Marburn seemed like the perfect place for Katie. She remembers being pretty intimidated at first, being the only girl in her class. She loved the small class sizes and over six years, Katie slowly but surely regained her educational footing.

In High School, Katie attended Dublin Scioto High School and became the Yearbook Editor. After her experience at Marburn, she had the confidence and tools to reach for whatever she wanted. Last fall, she studied abroad in Rome for a semester. Today Katie attends Loyola University Chicago where she is a Senior majoring in communications and is the Marketing Intern for the University’s Wellness Department. Katie is also engaged in several community service projects such as the Big Brother Big Sister program and Loyola4Chicago, a program where students provide once-weekly volunteer service in Chicago.

By all accounts, Katie’s resumé today reads as a success story. She can envision her next internship, her dream job and will readily share how she’s going to change the world. But it wasn’t always this way. She remembers the feeling of struggle, of having to retrain her thoughts, telling herself that she deserved to learn and succeed, and making herself articulate her needs.

“I didn’t want it to be about grades. I wanted to learn and understand the material. It was sometimes hard to push myself to forge the relationships I needed to succeed, to use the assistive devices and other tools I’d been given. I always felt like I had to try harder than everyone else. But it’s been worth it. It gets easier all the time. Marburn helped me, and I still use the tools and strategies to this day. I’m not afraid to pursue opportunities now. I’ve found my freedom. I feel I can do anything.”

Talking to Kathy and Katie is a joy and a privilege. Katie’s journey showcases the transformation that can occur when kids with learning differences are presented with an educational program designed for them. Today Kathy is a proud parent. She’s loving those apples, and who can blame her?