The most powerful tools one can acquire are knowledge and wisdom. Acquiring knowledge and wisdom is far more important than money and any tangible things most people desire. It’s a necessary part of life that can establish you and make you stronger than before. It is the key to safety. It is the answer to creating a brighter future for you, your family and loved ones. It teaches you how to maneuver in society, to live free and wholeheartedly.

This is where my journey begins. I was always full of questions with no one to answer them. I was one of those students who loved going to school, and really enjoyed reading. When it was time to take a test in school, however, I would fail miserably. Fear started to grow and cause anxiety.

Later came realization that it was not because I did not study, but because I wasn’t properly diagnosed with dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a neurological dysfunction that causes a person to process information from the left side of the brain more slowly. Because our brain is neuroplastic, we can rewire it to process learning differently.

That is why I refuse to call it a learning disability. It’s just that we learn differently.

I knew something was wrong at a young age, but was not in a position to help myself. My parents meant well but also did not know. They wanted me to go to school and get a better education. But that was a vague statement with no action to support what I needed.

I went through my public school system years and went on to earn my bachelor degree. That’s possible even with dyslexia if you put forth the effort and determination to face it. Once you have the knowledge, fear cannot be in your way because you now understand who you are.

Some notable pioneers who struggled with dyslexia yet changed the world, include:

Journalist Anderson Cooper, who said that growing up “in a home where reading and writing had great value,” he tried his best to keep up with his brother, an avid reader, but oftentimes was left to simply “pretend to read it, because I had trouble reading and making sense of words, in particular, letters.” Cooper, who credits his parents and school for providing a specialist to help improve his reading, later went on to Yale University and now is a six-time Emmy Award journalist.

Entertainer and actress Cher was asked, if she could change that about herself, would she? “No!” she told a fan online. “It caused pain, but it’s me!” A teacher of Albert Epstein, considered by many to have been the smartest person alive, stated, “Nothing will ever become of this boy!”

Billionaire Richard Bradson gives credit to having dyslexia and said: “Once freed from archaic schooling practices and preconceptions, my mind opened up. Out in the real world, my dyslexia became my massive advantage: It helped me to think creatively and laterally, and see solutions where others saw problems.”

The list goes on! These influencers tapped into their gift which unlocked knowledge and wisdom of who they are despite their learning difference and uniqueness. Thus it is sad that in today’s schools, students are evaluated on a logical test instead of extracting their gift to flourish.

And what makes it more disturbing is that teacher certifications cite a recognition learning differences, which is not implemented. If it was, we would not be in a reading literacy crisis.

After years of struggling with reading and comprehension, I was forced to face my fear and become a teacher. I ran from this calling because of my experience with the school system.

But when God gets a yes out of you, He always wins. I found out while teaching that I have learning gaps that I could not teach until I relearned the lesson. I was so shocked that some of the lessons I could not do, so I taught myself.

As I am teaching, gaps in my learning are being restored. I have started to create a methodology that I have used in my classroom to effectively improve my students’ and my own children’s reading proficiency.

During the covid pandemic, I also decided to go for my master’s degree. This is where more knowledge was unlocked while reading and writing so many papers. I remember being stressed out writing papers until my head would hurt. Later I realized it was good that that took place, because that is how to unlock your brain to a higher knowledge. It is not called a master’s degree for nothing.

This level of study is necessary for potential growth. Education is talked about so vaguely, when what our students need is specific; something real and obtainable to believe, in order to motivate them.

This knowledge I’ve obtained over the years has helped improve not only my reading, writing and math skills, but also how I take care of my physical and emotional health, obtain a healthy relationship, improve my finances and discover my identity. It has helped me dig myself out of fear and depression. It has given me a clear picture of life, identity and true authentic love.

All of my unanswered questions from my youth were answered because I unlocked knowledge and obtained the wisdom to live a life of purpose.

Tamika Taylor is an Exceptional Student Education teacher at Inlet Grove Community High School in Riviera Beach.