Meet Cristi Rowland and Learn About Her Passion for Reading! - Learning Lab

Meet Cristi Rowland and Learn About Her Passion for Reading!

Director Of Learning Lab’s New Literacy Center

Cristi Rowland, M.Ed.

Reading is one of the most important foundational subjects, where mastery is critical to future education and career success, so we are very happy to announce that Cristi Rowland recently joined our team as the Director of our new Literacy Center. Cristi is a licensed Reading Specialist, as well as a licensed Literacy Coach, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Reading Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Cristi knows and understands the importance that strong reading skills can have on academic performance, as she was driven to the field due to her own struggles with reading. Below, you can learn about Cristi’s story, and how she overcame her reading struggles, in her own words…

This master’s degree is so much more than a few extra letters after my name. This master’s degree symbolizes that grit, perseverance, and determination can triumph over any disability or stigma.

About 12 years ago, at the end of my 5th-grade year, I was diagnosed with a learning and reading disability. I was so far behind in reading the educators talking to my mom told her they weren’t sure I would be able to go to college. It was suggested that I be placed in classes with other students that had similar needs. Here I would receive double the reading instruction than I would in a regular education classroom and the class size would be a third of what the general education classrooms were. I begged my mom not to let them put me in those classes. I was scared I wouldn’t make friends and be perceived as “stupid”. After consulting with the middle school my mom told me no. Little did she know that by denying my request she was saving my education. In 6th and 7th grade I received one hour of reading intervention every day of the week. I was given specialized education and attention in each subject. I saw educators work tirelessly to grow the struggling students they were given. Every day my peers and I were told that we were in the “stupid class” and every day our teachers would remind us how smart we were. In those two years, I was able to grow from grade levels behind to above grade level. I learned that the world is not made for readers and learners like me and that is okay. I knew that for the rest of my life I would have to work harder than others to keep up. I learned to love my differences.

Reflecting back on those years has made me realize that my personal experiences are what make me a great educator. I wasn’t the bookworm or the smart kid growing up. I found myself in a very similar position as a lot of my students, unable to learn and perform like my peers. I can empathize with their parents because I saw my parents in a very similar situation. I had to fight and advocate for myself and my needs every day. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. At one point I thought I would have to give up on that dream because the education system had left me behind.

I have chosen a career in education to fight for every child that does not fit into the mold our education system has created. No student should feel inadequate for having specialized needs. I hope to share my story with my future students and parents, to show that disabilities and differences are not the end, they can lead to beautiful new beginnings.

If Your Child Is Struggling With Reading, Help Is Available.

Your child’s pathway to better grades in school and a more successful life is through helping them improve the skills needed to become a stronger reader. Learn more about Learning Lab’s LifeReader™ here, and for more information, please contact one of our two Learning Lab locations, or fill out the form below!

Learning Lab Brentwood

5500 Maryland Way, Suite 110

Brentwood, TN 37027


Learning Lab Nashville

2416 21st Avenue South, Suite 100

Nashville, TN 37212