Hope for Homeschooling Struggling Learners – Anna Meli, Dealing with Dyslexia
“Thank the Lord for my mom! My mom was awesome. She did not give up on me. There were so many times we were homeschooling… There were days where we would just cry and have tears, because, you know, we were both frustrated. She was so patient with me, even though I was mad and rebellious and I… I just, I wanted to be done, but she pulled through for me.”
Homeschooling struggling learners? Here is a very encouraging story for you!
We met Anna Meli in Nashville, where she was networking at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) conference. Anna is a bright and joyful young lady who is currently finishing a film program in college and looking for work in the film industry. She feels that God has called her to impact the world through her work and we had a great time getting to know her and hear her story.
Anna attended public preschool and kindergarten, but severe dyslexia caused her mom, who knew she was smart and capable, to bring her home in order to keep her from being improperly labeled and segregated by the public schools. While her education wasn’t easy, her mom persisted and finally found a program that allowed her to learn to read. Even though reading is still a struggle and she didn’t learn to read until very late, homeschooling allowed her the freedom to pursue other passions and talents and provided the individualized education that she needed to succeed. At twelve, anna learned to sew and later to design and make her own clothes. She became an excellent cook, and found a passion in making movies. By the time she had finished high school she had received her cosmetology license and she used cosmetology to put her through a film program in college. Now, she is about to graduate and is out looking for work in the industry. She couldn’t be more thankful for her homeschooling experience, and it is clear that Anna is a homeschooling success story.
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Yvette Hampton –
Hey everyone, we are here in Nashville, Tennessee. We are at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel at NRB, which is the National Religious Broadcasters convention and this convention is massive. It’s been a really exciting week. We’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people who are in film, television, radio, all kinds of different media outlets. It’s called Proclaim 18, and the whole purpose is people just learning how, and networking with other people who are here, to proclaim the good news of Christ.
Last night Garritt and I attended an ice cream social. which was really fun and we met Anna. Tell us a little bit about why you’re here.
Anna Meli –
So my name is Ana Meli. I’m a film student, just about to graduate. I’m here just making connections. I’ve met some incredible people. This is a really good event. So, I was homeschooled growing up. I had a really good experience with that. I wouldn’t trade that for the world, and that’s kind of what launched me into going in the film. I was able to just film things in the backyard with my brother and sisters, and I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to go into film. Film was something that I realized I had skill in and something that I could use to glorify God.
Were there like a couple of short films or anything that you did that were really memorable to you?
There was one in particular, Girl Without a Name. It’s just a short pro-life film that I did. In that, I saw the hand of God. I saw him provide in ways I didn’t even expect. There was one time in particular. I was waiting for something to render in the computer, and while I was waiting for it I realized I wasn’t going to be able to eat, because I needed to watch that computer and make sure that nobody at the school messed with it, so I was waiting there and I was like, “okay, that’s fine. I don’t need to eat. I’m fine. I’ll just sit here and watch the computer.”, and God sent someone to bring me food. A complete stranger. She just popped her head in the room. She’s, like, “Hey, you’re not hungry are you you? Do you want… I have to have some leftovers from a restaurant and nobody wants them. Do you want them?” I was just like, “oh my gosh, God!” like you just you gave me food when I didn’t even think… I was so stupid to not even think to pray for that. I was just like, “alright just tough it out and just get through it.”. and that right there told me I need to be praying more for even the little things – the things that I think God doesn’t care about.
That’s awesome! So tell us about your homeschool journey. Why, why did you begin Homeschooling, or I should say, why did your parents begin homeschooling you? Were you homeschooled all the way from kindergarten to twelfth grade? What’s your homeschool story?
So I went to public school for preschool and kindergarten and by the end of that time the school had already determined that I was learning disabled, and they wanted to label me that and put me in a special ed class, but that wasn’t good enough for my mom. She was like, “No. I know she’s smart. I know she’s capable. I don’t want to just put her in a special ed class.” So she started homeschooling me.
What she didn’t know at the time is that I am very, very dyslexic. So she tried to teach me how to read. She tried every program out there, trying to figure out a way to get it in my brain in a way that it would stick. Nothing was working. My mom is actually a teacher and she has a master’s in reading education, and it did nothing. She was very frustrated. We were both very frustrated.
At the age of ten I gave up all hope of ever being able to learn how to read. That was a very trying time in my life. If I didn’t have God in my life I don’t know what I would have done. I probably would have committed suicide. I was very depressed, because in my mind I always felt the call to change to world and to make the world a better place. But how could I do that if I couldn’t even read? And I was angry at God. I was like, “God, why did you make me this way? I would rather have my limbs chopped off. I would rather have anything but this. I’d rather… I’d rather actually be stupid, because then, at least I’d have a reason I could tell people why I can’t read, instead of always trying to dodge the issue or run to the bathroom when people ask me to read something.” So I was very angry at God, but he answered me and his answer was, “No. I made you this way. You are good enough how you are, and I will still use you if you let me.” It was years later, I was still struggling with that, but eventually I kind of just accepted that, “You know what? Even if I never learn how to read, God is still good. God still loves me and he made me this way for a reason.”
Some time after that I started receiving help from Michigan Dyslexic Institute. They were able to teach in a different way that was actually more helpful and now I can read. I’m still not great at it my spelling sucks, but I can do it now.
And thank the Lord for my mom! My mom was awesome. She did not give up on me. There were so many times we were homeschooling… There were days where we would just cry and have tears, because, you know, we were both frustrated. She was so patient with me, even though I was mad and rebellious and I… I just, I wanted to be done, but she she pulled through for me.
That is an amazing story, and amazing to think about what would have happened had you been in public school. What that would have looked like. What your life would look like today, as a result of that. So that is neat. That is a great, great story.
Other than the reading and the academics, what have you seen as a benefit of having been homeschooled? Maybe in your relationships with your siblings. You talked about your relationship with your mom. How have you seen God work through relationship?
Big question! So many ways I’ve been blessed by homeschooling – not just in the educational aspect, but with networking with other homeschoolers, other like-minded people. I was able to get a very individualized education. At a certain point we determined, “I’m never going to be a great reader. That’s okay. What else else can we do?” I learned how to sew at the age of twelve. A few years later I started designing my own clothes. I learned how to be a great cook. I learned all these different things that if I had been in a regular public school education I don’t know if I would have been able to realize.
That is awesome. And now you’re in your senior year of college, right?
Yeah, so I’m about to graduate at the end of the semester.
Okay, and where are you going to school?
Macomb Community College.
Okay. That is great. And so you’re pursuing film. You want to be a director, right? What kind of movies do you want to direct?
Anything and everything with a good message.
Okay. That is awesome. Well thank you so much for talking with us. It is such an encouragement just to hear your story, and I know it will be an encouragement to others, as well, because you’re certainly not the only one who has had this struggle. There are many, and it’s neat to see you on the other side of it, and how God has blessed you and your family through that. So I wish you tons of blessings in your endeavor to to direct and I’m sure God will use you. He made you on purpose and for a purpose. We tell that to our girls all the time. He’s going to use the gifts he’s given you for his glory. Thank you for taking time to talk with us.