Margaret Walsh (’15)
Margaret Walsh (’15)“I enjoy working with students and seeing them have these amazing moments where they realize they can do more than they thought they could,” says educator and entrepreneur Margaret Walsh (’15). “They start moving forward, faster and faster, and get so excited about their accomplishments.”

Shortly after graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2015, Miss Walsh founded Secret Garden Educational Pathways, an online tutoring and remediation service for students of all ages with special needs. “We work with students with reading remediation, students who have dyslexia, or dysgraphia — where they can’t get their thoughts out on paper — or students who have autism or autism-related symptoms,” she says. “There’s a whole umbrella of learning difficulties that the reading remediation and education therapy that we offer can help.”

Miss Walsh holds a master’s degree in special education and has received specialized training from Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes and Equipping Minds Cognitive Therapy. Her company, which is based in Southern California but offers its services globally via the Internet, consists of five teachers, three of them TAC alumnae.  “We’re doing remediation, which is different from what a lot of schools do,” she says. “A lot of times the mentality that I hear and see is, ‘Let’s help you learn how to live with your disability.’ What we’re trying to do is say, ‘Let’s help you increase your abilities so that you can do more than what a diagnosis is predicting you can do right now.’”

The approach is all-encompassing. In addition to academic instruction, Secret Garden offers nutritional consultation as another means of identifying students’ learning difficulties. Wherever possible, its teachers — who are all Catholic — use faith-based reading materials, such as stories about the lives of saints, to add a spiritual dimension to their students’ education. “We’ve chosen to bring Catholic materials in so that we can provide that opportunity for the students to explore their faith while at the same time increasing their academic ability,” Miss Walsh explains. “That is at the heart of why I started this business.”

The goal of Secret Garden Educational Pathways is to enable students to grow cognitively so that they can “start to enjoy school,” says Miss Walsh, and bolster their long-term educational prospects. “Wherever God takes them, we’re trying to help them improve their potential and improve their capabilities so they can do more.”