Women with a Cause 2019: Georgann Mire
Cause: Greater Baton Rouge Learning Disabilities Coalition and CW Austin Learning Disabilities Conference
Years ago, when several children in Georgann Mire’s blended family struggled with learning disabilities, Mire spent her free time searching for solutions. “Back in the ’90s when I was first looking for help, it was very hard to find even one good book,” says Mire, 66.
The more Mire learned about learning disabilities, the more she wanted to help other children like her own. She joined the board of the Louisiana branch of the International Dyslexia Association and started offering free professional development education for teachers. Teachers receive little training about learning disabilities even though one in five children in the U.S. has learning or attention issues, according to national statistics, Mire says. Additionally, many people have more than one learning disability, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, apraxia, autism or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Mire then went on to found the CW Austin Learning Disabilities Conference, which is held in Baton Rouge each year. The free conference is named for her nephew Christopher, a young man with dyslexia who died in a boating accident in 2009. Today, the conference has grown from five to 30 speakers and offers continuing education or professional development credits for those who work with and mentor children.
The conference offers an interdisciplinary model for all different types of caregivers and educators, she says. “This way, a psychologist can sit in a session with a prescriber or with a teacher so they get a different perspective,” Mire says.
Mire also founded the Greater Baton Rouge Learning Disabilities Coalition, which helps provide parents and professionals with the tools they need to help their children. The nonprofit coalition supports the conference that Mire works on all year, she says. “The big day is kind of like putting together a wedding,” says Mire.
Helping children has been Mire’s mission for two decades. She remembers encouraging a sixth-grade student who could understand main concepts in math but struggled with memorization. Mire helped advocate for her to receive special accommodations. One day, the student called to let Mire know she would be late for their appointment because she was tutoring friends in math, Mire says. “Once she got the accommodations she needed, she was able to flourish,” Mire says.
Until our society starts helping all children with learning disabilities, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a big wound, she says. “I feel if we can help people with learning disabilities, we’ll be able to solve so many of our problems,” Mire says. “If you can’t go to school, if you can’t get an education, we can’t solve poverty. We can’t solve violence. We can’t solve crime.” ldhelp.org
What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
It’s exciting to work to find creative solutions for families struggling to locate the best resources to help their kids with learning disabilities.
How is your cause making a difference?
My work changes lives because when LD kids connect to evidence-based help, they can conquer their challenges and be successful.
Is there a big or annual event?
The free CW Austin Learning Disabilities Conference brings parents and professionals together to learn ways to achieve academic success for LD students. Scheduled for February 8, 2020, at the Catholic Life Center, this event provides free and low-cost professional development credits for social workers, counselors, speech language pathologists, educators and foster parents. Register at ldhelp.org.