Creating Dreamers and Doers: Lainey Ward
Heart of gold.
Life was just beginning for Lainey Ward when doctors worked on her heart to keep it beating.
A 4-month-old baby, Ward was in the fight of her life before she knew what living really meant. Her whole world was mom and dad and the mobile dancing over her crib.
Open-heart surgery and operations to fix three birth defects kept Ward pushing forward, overcoming diagnosis after diagnosis.
First, the girl who would not live, did.
Then, the girl who could not walk, walked.
Later, the girl who found it difficult to learn would teach.
Today, Ward finds herself observing classrooms in preparation for leading lessons. A processing disorder and ADHD meant learning how to learn differently. Her goals for tomorrow are intervening when children often need it most – in middle childhood.
“As a teacher, you can really make an impact during this transitional phase in a child’s education,” she said. “I’m specializing in math because I hated it. I realized I could do it, but I just had to work a little harder.
“I knew then it was going to be OK.”
That’s what Ward wants to impart as an intervention specialist and special education teacher, “to let these children know that we’re going to get through it together. Being their advocate is what drives me.”
Still, the Work Ethic Matters Scholarship recipient and student employee in the Office of Student Involvement almost didn’t make it to Kent State Stark. Pursuing a college education in her hometown of Springfield, near Dayton, Ward found herself in a dead-end program when she reached out to Curtis Tinlin, outreach program coordinator.
“I figured middle childhood education was a long shot,” said Ward, who knew Tinlin as a summer counselor at Camp Berean Way. “But (Tinlin) told me that’s a Stark Campus specialty. I thought it was a dream that I could find the program I wanted on a small campus at an affordable price.”
The first in her family to go away to college, Ward also was freed of the diagnosis she carried with her since infancy. Just before moving to Canton, Ward’s heart specialist discharged her after a perfect echocardiogram. At 20, the world was hers.
“Seeing God’s hand in all of it, there are just so many miracles,” said Ward, who has found a home at Kent State Stark. “I get to wake up every day and come here, and I just love it so much.”
Through tragedy and triumph, Ward says she is right where she’s meant to be.
Are you interested in supporting a student like Lainey? Visit www.kent.edu/supportstark to get started.