Class of 2013: Math Teacher Patricia Greenough Lets Nothing Get In Her Way

April 26, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Cooper Nelson
GCU Today Magazine

Growing up, Patricia Greenough battled the stigma of learning disabilities and fought through school with the fear that she may never succeed academically.

After graduating from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years of study from Grand Canyon University and is working toward her doctorate. She hopes to use her experience to help students struggling with similar obstacles.

Patricia Greenough, 23, overcame personal learning disabilities to graduate with a master's in special education from Grand Canyon University. (Photo by Michael Ferraresi)

Greenough, 23, enrolled at GCU in the fall of 2008. By the spring of 2011, she had earned a bachelor’s in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics. She is graduating this month with a master’s in special education cross-categorical, having earned that between January and November of 2012.

Most students take four years to complete their undergraduate studies and two for a graduate degree. But Greenough, whose maiden name is Chittenden, couldn’t wait that long.

“Part of my plan included finishing my degree in three years so I could complete my master’s in one,” said Greenough, who struggles with dyslexia, short-term memory loss, auditory processing issues and ADHD.

“I want to be able to go out and start a gifted learning disability program to help kids like me succeed,” she said.

Greenough said she coped with learning disabilities throughout high school and was often forced to implement an Individual Education Plan to ease the education process. As a high school senior, Greenough struggled to comprehend the spelling, grammar and punctuation lessons taught in her English class. Her disabilities spread across several categories, restricting her from obtaining the help she needed.

Without the support of her family, she said, she might have never graduated from high school — or become a teacher.

Greenough currently teaches freshman math and coaches freshman girls volleyball at Betty H. Fairfax High School in Laveen, where she met her husband, A.J. Greenough, who teaches physical education. The two married earlier this year. Patricia Greenough was highly involved during her time at GCU, serving as a member of the Associated Students of GCU and as a resident assistant on campus.

She has deep roots at GCU, with more than 60 members of her family having attended the University since it opened in 1949. She said her grandparents attended the University, then Grand Canyon College, in its early years. Seemingly everyone — from her parents to her siblings and cousins — has been an Antelope at one time or another. Even her husband earned his master’s degree from GCU.

Her family history is so significant that the University has a family-tree portrait hanging in the Tell Science computer lab. She currently has eight family members at GCU, including younger sister and upcoming senior Jenna Chittenden; older sister Kimberly Klem, who works as an enrollment counselor at GCU’s Peoria site; and Director of Athletics Keith Baker, her second cousin.

“The Baker side is the base of it all. My grandparents came over from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl,” said Baker, who has been part of the GCU community for more than 30 years as a student, athlete and employee. “Even when I went to school here, there were always cousins on the same dorm floor as me.”

Greenough is proud of her heritage at the University, adding that without the support of her parents and relatives she wouldn’t have been able to persevere and succeed.

“My family has always encouraged me and told me that I can do anything,” Greenough said. “They never let my disabilities become an excuse or hold me back.”

Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or

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