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About Debra Gawrys – Founder

Debra Gawrys, a native Chicagoan, attended Kellogg, a CPS elementary school in the Beverly area, and graduated from Mother McAuley High School. Debra has her B.A. in Education and her Master’s degree from St. Xavier University in Learning Disabilities. She has taught 2nd, 5th, and 6th grades in the classroom and was also a learning disabilities resource teacher in the suburban public school system. After teaching, she decided to go into private practice where she worked from home for nine years, before moving to the current Beverly location.

A personal message from the Connections Learning Center founder, Debra Gawrys:

When my daughter was in preschool, I knew something was going on with her learning. She was, and still is, very bright and extremely verbal but was having trouble learning the alphabet and sounds. She also had difficulty remembering the kids’ and teachers’ names.

By the time she was in the middle of the third grade, she was still not reading—at all. She finally knew her letters and sounds but hadn’t a clue as to what she was supposed to do with knowledge. Someone finally pointed me in the direction of the International Dyslexia Association. I went to the 9th annual conference of the Illinois branch here in Chicago. I learned that my daughter was indeed dyslexic, as I suspected. I had been taught in school that it was when people saw backwards or upside down. Nothing could be further from the truth. At the conference, I learned about the Wilson Reading program. I went for their three-day overview and began working with my daughter.

Within two weeks, she was beginning to read. By the time she was in 6th grade, she was reading at grade level and no longer needed an I.E.P. (Individualized Education Program). My daughter is now an adult, has graduated from a university in Providence R.I. and doing well.  It’s all about knowing what strategies work best for each child.

I told a couple of other mothers about the program, and I began tutoring from my home. Their children also did great, and they began telling other parents about me. I became so busy that I hired another teacher and trained her. Then another and another, until I had four other teachers working for me. We continued this work for 9 years and then I outgrew my home. This was all from word of mouth. At that point, we found our present location and Connections Learning Center was founded. That was almost ten years ago. I feel blessed to have been able to help so many children over the years. And it all started with my own daughter being dyslexic. Something good always comes from our struggles.

Since then I have learned so much and have become solution oriented. I know, first hand, how difficult it is when we are looking for answers regarding our children. So much time and money is wasted on things that don’t work. At Connections Learning Center, I try to have a solution for every parent who walks through our doors, and I look forward to helping many more students in the future.

If your child is struggling in school or has special needs, Connections Learning Center can help. Our tutoring is highly individualized, and all of our accredited teachers use effective methods to help your child become a more successful student.