Why EBLI Was Created: Colleen's Interview

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu

by Nora Chahbazi
Colleen, my middle daughter, has always been bright, kind-hearted, and curious. Her reading challenges in 2nd grade, back in 1997, were the impetus that led to the creation of EBLI. Besides struggling with reading and spelling at that time, she lacked confidence, was self-conscious, and had low self-esteem.

As any parent knows, watching your own child suffer is excruciating. The desperation I felt led to me learn how to teach her to read, leave my profession as an RN, and become a champion for literacy.

After 3 hours of instruction, Colleen was reading chapter books and comprehending them! Her spelling improved dramatically too. Almost immediately her confidence grew in all areas of life and her self-esteem blossomed.

Whether I'm training teachers, teaching students, or talking about EBLI, the memories of Colleen’s past literacy struggles motivate me to continue to help those who are suffering unnecessarily like she was.

Below, Colleen shares her perspective about her previous difficulties with reading, how they shaped her, and what her life is like now as an adult. I'm tremendously proud of her and enjoyed reading what she had to say about her experience. I hope you enjoy reading it too!

Before you were taught by your mom, how did you feel about reading?

Colleen Chahbazi: To be honest, I avoided reading like the plague! Growing up I was an almost painfully shy girl and when it came to school, I just wanted to make sure everyone liked me and that I made my parents and teachers proud.

Reading out loud in class was my worst enemy. I was forced to be the center of attention and it was something that didn't come naturally to me like math and science did.

Reading was a skill I always wished I had because I was very curious, loved learning and LOVED stories. One of my favorite times of the day was snuggling in bed while my mom read to my sisters and me. Reading just seemed like a puzzle I couldn't solve and something I was missing out on.


Why did she teach you?

CC: She saw my struggle and no mother wants to see their child go through that. I can't thank her enough for everything she has done for me. She didn't just accept that I had a problem because I wasn't on the same track as my sister was or because I was falling behind my class in the subject. That would've been the easy thing to do.

Instead, she continued to research and develop and didn't give up until she found a solution that worked. That makes her one amazing mother if you ask me. She is Superwoman in my eyes!


What changes did you notice as you progressed through your instruction (and how quickly did they occur)?

CC: I noticed a difference right away. The instruction didn't make reading seem as daunting as it was before. The way the words were broken up and the logic of it made sense to me. Before that, reading seemed foreign.

What changes did you notice after you were finished?

CC: I actually enjoyed reading! I finished my first chapter book cover to cover quickly and could recall the entire story without having to go back and re-read every page. Before, I would just give up because the time it took didn't seem worth it and it was an extremely frustrating process.


What is your life like now (what do you do, how do you feel about reading, etc.)?

CC: I currently live in Chicago and do Marketing and Event Coordination for a yacht charter company downtown. I still love reading and it is an addictive pastime that I try to do whenever I get the chance. I can't imagine how different my life would've been had I not been taught by my mom.

I went from the possibility of being in special education classes to graduating from high school with honors. This led to earning an academic scholarship at my college where I was a student athlete and graduated with a degree in Business Marketing.

It also worked wonders on my confidence. People who meet me now have a hard time believing I was ever shy. I will forever be grateful to my mom for how she transformed my life. I am so proud of her for sharing her knowledge and using it to help others of all ages and backgrounds so they don't have to struggle like I did.

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As always, THANK YOU for reading, commenting, sharing, and being an integral part of the EBLI community!

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