Dr. and Mrs. J. D. Mashburn had never heard of learning disabilities until two of their four children were born. Despite obvious intelligence, the two youngest children struggled with reading from an early age. The Mashburns eventually discovered that Zack and Molly had learning disabilities related to reading. According to Dr. Mashburn, the children’s struggles with reading nearly devastated their lives as teachers mistook their disabilities for a lack of trying.
Dr. Mashburn decided that helping his children was not enough. Dr. Mashburn has stated emphatically, “I won’t be satisfied until every school in Arkansas has at least one teacher who has been trained in this program and is helping students with learning disabilities.” Dr. and Mrs. Mashburn decided to establish the Christine Greenhaw Mashburn Institute named in honor of Dr. Mashburn’s mother. The institute was designed to bring authorities on learning disabilities to UCA to educate teachers about students with special needs. The Mashburn Center for Learning partnered with Dr. Don Deshler, a nationally recognized authority on learning disabilities from the University of Kansas.
In 1991, the University of Central Arkansas used the cash value of a $1 million life insurance policy the Mashburns purchased to host the Mashburn Center for Learning for the purpose of providing classroom teachers and administrators with research-based instructional strategies for use with students at-risk to fail or fall behind. Nearly 400 educators have successfully participated in the Mashburn Institutes during the past 17 years. Consistent with the vision of Dr. and Mrs. J. D. Mashburn, the academic achievement of thousands of students who struggle with learning in Arkansas schools has been dramatically improved as a result of the skills teachers have acquired through the Mashburn Center for Learning.