We asked you to tell us about inspiring women in your life. We went through hundreds of nominations in our Remarkable Women contest. Now, we’re sharing our four finalists’ stories.

HENLEY, Texas (KXAN) — It’s been sprinkling all day and the words scrawled across the now-damp concrete are smudged. The rain hasn’t totally washed away the welcoming message that’s clearly intended for us, though. Discarded bicycles and chalk drawings on the walkway—telltale signs that children live here. Those children inspired Megan Pinchback to take a risk.

A greeting from Megan Pinchback's children (KXAN photo/Sydney Benter)
A greeting from Megan Pinchback’s children (KXAN Photo/Sydney Benter)

Life can change so gradually, you may not realize you’re on the verge of something big until you shift your perspective. Similarly, words alone don’t say a whole lot, but when you string them together and add punctuation, they take on new meaning. Pinchback understands this more than most, and she’s found fulfillment helping others find the words to write their own stories.

Teaching isn’t a glamorous profession. It pays the bills, albeit just barely in some cases. It’s hard work and in many ways, it’s getting harder. Pinchback’s mom worked in education and she wanted a different life for her daughter. Practicality won out after Pinchback graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in elementary education. She got her MBA and took a job in the corporate world.

“My cup was not being filled, so immediately I just knew that the right answer for myself was to ditch the big salary and go back into education,” she said.

Pinchback worked as a special education teacher in Alief ISD in southwest Houston. She moved to Austin in 2005 and eventually became a resource teacher. She helped students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia. Pinchback was awarded a scholarship to further her education through the Scottish Rite Dyslexia Center. She studied for two years and completed 700 clinical hours to a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT).

megan pinchback working
Megan Pinchback works from home to help students with dyslexia (KXAN Photo/Juan Salinas)

As much as 20% of the population has some symptoms of dyslexia. People who have dyslexia have trouble decoding words quickly and accurately. Specialists like Pinchback help them create their own code.

“The phonemic processor in the brain is not working,” she explained. “So what we need to do, is we need to light up all the different areas of the brain, and that’s why multi-sensory instruction is so important to help to compensate for the piece that isn’t working.”

As much as she enjoyed her work in the classroom, Pinchback left the profession when she became a mom.

“There’s a whole . . . life shift that happens when you start having children,” she said.

Megan Pinchback and her family (Courtesy Megan Pinchback)

She faced the struggle so many parents do: balancing professional fulfillment and quality family time. She took some time off but missed the sense of fulfillment her work provided. That’s when she started her own private practice.

“I can pull from my business masters, I can pull from my education background and I can fuse them and actually make the biggest difference,” she said.

Her business is called Dyslexia on Demand and she works with students remotely now. It’s helpful for those who don’t otherwise have access to this level of specialized therapy. Pinchback says Austin is fortunate because there’s a CALT training center in town, but there’s a gap in services for students in rural areas and in states that lack specialists.

She meets with students virtually several times a week over the course of two years.

“I get very excited when I get a new student,” she said, “because I know that if they dedicate to the process, their life is going to be completely changed.”

As her business grew, she started to connect with other female entrepreneurs in the Hill Country. Now she leads a business alliance called MPOWER.

“Probably they were mothers who were at home for a while,” Pinchback said. Here’s how she describes their mission: “How can we get you guys to feel empowered, to be able to find success in your business and lean on each other?”

  • MPOWER's November 19 speaker series (Courtesy Megan Pinchback)
  • MPOWER's Jan 2020 meeting (Courtesy Megan Pinchback)
  • MPOWER's July 2019 meeting (Courtesy Megan Pinchback)
  • MPOWER_Aug 2019
  • MPOWER's February 2020 meeting (Courtesy Megan Pinchback)

They meet monthly to listen to speakers and network — for free. Pinchback says there’s even talk of expanding with new chapters in other cities. This group is an offshoot of a larger community of thousands of moms she’s galvanized on Facebook to serve others and support one another. She hopes to lean on both to create a nonprofit that would help subsidize fees for dyslexia therapy. Initial funding would come from functions she’s organized with her peers. Donations would assist students whose families can’t afford the entire rate.

Her success is proof she’s got a way with people and words.

“It has really fulfilled me in so many ways,” she said. “I’m so optimistic and excited about the future.”