Melanie Brethour (Social Science, 1998) is a resource teacher with the Riverside School Board and creator of Decoding Dyslexia Quebec. A teacher for almost 20 years, Brethour’s engagement with dyslexia was sparked when her son was diagnosed with severe dyslexia in 2019.

The diagnosis ignited a personal mission for Brethour, who began learning everything she could in an effort to better support her son and students like him.

“You’d think that as a resource teacher, I would know all about this already, but it was really when my son was diagnosed that I went on this obsessive, passionate mission to learn as much as I could to help him.”

Not long after, Brethour created the Decoding Dyslexia Quebec Facebook page as a place to share resources and connect with other parents and teachers.

Decoding Dyslexia is a U.S.-based network of parent-led grassroots movements and Brethour connected with the organization to start a local branch in her area.

She said that through the page, and the other page she manages on Instagram SOAR With Dyslexia, she has been able to build connections and community with thousands of other parents and teachers.

“Just that connection of knowing how hard it can be watching your child struggle in school,” she said. “I’ve gotten so many messages from parents, met people at conferences. I have to say, social media can be really negative but for me, it’s been the opposite. It has been phenomenal.”

Brethour, who completed a bachelor’s in education from McGill University, said she’s become passionate about spreading awareness about dyslexia and encouraging parents to notice the signs early.

“You want to be able to know the sign of struggling reader sand provide them intervention,” she said.

She also shares activities, webinars and resources that can help better support students based on the latest research.

“I’m a resource teacher and I love sharing resources,” she said. “I just love learning and want to share.”

Brethour added that all the time spent researching online has “transformed” her teaching. She has been working with small groups of elementary age students struggling with reading, writing and math for the majority of her career and says that she wished she’d learned more about learning difficulties during her studies.

“You need to know how to teach these kids based on the research,” she said.

Brethour has begun giving presentations trying to break down the stigma associated with dyslexia and common misconceptions about it. She’s also gotten involved with several national organizations including Dyslexia Canada and Teachers For Reading Canada.

Her hard work was recognized this year as the winner of Nessy’s Dyslexia Aware Teacher of the Year in 2023.

Brethour’s advice to current cegep students and recent grads: “Take your time. Don’t rush into it. There’s a lot of pressure now with social media to have a perfect life. You need to have this house, this car, this job. It’s so important to follow your passions. You do something that you love and sometimes it takes time. I knew teaching was my passion but having a child with dyslexia made me go into a different route. It’s never too late to change your passions. Do what makes you happy.”