Dedicated to Helping Others
Class of 1985 alumna and Head Girl Michelle Charles (nee Ou Wai) has dedicated her life to helping children and adults. First as a teacher and Vice-Principal at the Toronto District School Board and now as Director of International Outreach and Training at Neuro-development of Words – NOW! Company. Her years at Trafalgar Castle School gave her the confidence and independence to try new things and travel the world.
“After 12 years at the School Board, I decided to take a leave of absence to serve on a mission trip in Africa where I helped to provide initial teacher training to village leaders and volunteers who were willing to help educate the children in their area,” said Michelle Charles, Class of 1985 alumna. “Then I jumped at an opportunity to further serve in Trinidad and Tobago, where I was raised, and provided training for religious instruction teachers in eight different islands.” She later began to work at Neuro-development of Words – NOW! Company in the arena of Dyslexia intervention and support.
The Neuro-development of Words – NOW! Company provides research and evidence-based programs that prevent or improve learning difficulties and enrich language skills for children and adults. “The program provides intervention for students and adults with dyslexia or learning difficulties,” said Michelle. “One in five people have dyslexia and are trying to cope or are struggling, and this program helps by going back to speech sounds first, improving phonological awareness, and improving reading and spelling by building on a neurodevelopmental hierarchy.”
The program improves the underlying brain processes for reading and learning, such as weaknesses in phonological awareness, auditory working memory, comprehension and mental imagery, reasoning and conceptualizing new concepts. “Weaknesses in the foundational skills will cause struggles in developing more advanced academic skills like reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, math, reasoning and problem-solving.”
“My work is very exciting,” added Michelle. “The program is life-changing, opening opportunities for people, and even those who never thought they could do things like go to college! We see so many children’s and adults’ confidence and self-esteem grow. Clients go from thinking they cannot succeed to fulfilling their dreams and achieving success.”
With students from around the world, including India, South Africa, Dubai, Brazil, Canada, the USA, and the United Kingdom, this Trafalgar Castle School alumna is making a difference in people’s lives. “Trafalgar had a massive impact on my life,” said Michelle. “Access to amazing teachers who influenced me while building my confidence, communication and leadership skills. It’s because of these foundational skills that I had the confidence to go to Australia and earn my Master’s Degree in Education, start a new career and move to a new country all at a relatively young age.”
Michelle shared the following advice for current Trafalgar students, “Do not be afraid to try something new. Take this opportunity while at school to try a new club, sport or class. The teachers and staff will support you while you discover what you like – you never know what new opportunities await because you tried something new.”
Michelle Charles, Class of 1985 alumna, was a boarding student at Trafalgar Castle School and remembers how much fun she had after lights out. One of her favourite memories was going on the winter camping trip with Ms. Collins and travelling to Greece and Egypt with Mrs. Davis, not to mention music and choir with Mr. McClure, as well as that was raffled off and making great friends from around the world.