Dyslexia doesn’t discourage Courtney Dempsey, she celebrates it! Courtney has been with Kurth Primary for the past 19 years and a Certified Academic Language Therapist for the past 7 years. She can relate to her students because she sees herself in their faces.
“I was at Trout Primary in Ms. Hicks’ class. My best friend Jana Davis Brazil could read, and I could not. Why could I not read? I knew then something wasn’t right. I just knew,” Courtney said.
That was in first grade. Courtney went to St. Cyprian’s in third grade and was diagnosed with dyslexia. She tells her students now that she knows exactly how they feel.
“I have empathy for these kids. I tell them when I was your age, I wanted to cry like you do. When you’re in here with me, there are not any grades. I’m here to help you be a great reader,” she said.
Courtney taught one year at Cedar Creek in Bastrop after graduating from Texas State University in San Marcos. She and her husband, Ron, moved back to Lufkin where they were both graduates of Lufkin High School when Ron’s mother became ill. Courtney’s job at Kurth Primary put all the puzzle pieces together especially when she met Ann Hafernick.
“I was fortunate to teach right next door to my mentor, Ann Hafernick. I had the privilege to watch and learn from Ann for 12 years. A decade of an invaluable education from a teacher that leads with her heart, listens with the intent to understand and cares deeply for every child that walked through her door,” Courtney said.
Courtney’s son was having difficulty reading, and Mrs. Hafernick helped her tremendously.
“She taught me everything dyslexic. She had done research for her own family,” she said.
It was a natural progression for Courtney to become trained at Neuhaus in Houston and receive certification as a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT). Her training was priceless and even helped Courtney discover some things about herself and her son.
“In the 7 years I’ve taught dyslexic students, they are every size and shape. Some things they can do better than any student on this campus, you just have to find it,” Courtney said.
Kurth Principal Dana Bickley, said, “Courtney is the glue that holds Kurth together. She is so passionate about helping her students be successful, and she is a constant encouragement to those around her. She loves her students and her coworkers and pours her heart into her work each day. She is adored by everyone who knows her.”
Courtney and her husband Ron have two children Drew, a sophomore at LHS and Libby, a 5th grader at Brandon Elementary along with two dogs Coco and Lovie.
Courtney loves spending time with her friends and family. She loves to watch her kids do their favorite activities and her favorite place is the beach.
She said, “I chose Lufkin because it’s home. I come from a very long line of Lufkinites. It was the natural decision for us to raise our family here and work for the school district I grew up in.”
Thank you, Courtney, for being a difference maker for our dyslexia students!