Lindenwood - Your Alumni Connection - Fall 2017

Paul Dreher (’00) is mixing business with pleasure, giving up a career as a school administrator to start his own playground equipment business, St. Louis Swings in O’Fallon, Mo. The new business has grown rapidly in just a year and a half, selling trampolines and lacrosse equipment in addition to cedar playsets that feature swings as well as slides, climbing walls, and clubhouses. Dreher, originally from Florissant, Mo., wasn’t always so sure that his career would turn out to be fun and games. He originally went away to college in Tennessee only to struggle and eventually quit. He came home without a plan for the future, ultimately signing up for classes at Lindenwood as an effort to get things moving in the right direction. “I was late diagnosed with a learning disability,” said Dreher. “When I went away to school the first time, they didn’t realize it. But when I came to Lindenwood, they recognized that I was a visual learner. My instructors told me to watch them while they talked and to find someone who takes good notes that I could get from them later.” That advice proved to make a big difference for him. “It was transformational for me,” he said. “I went from failing school to a 3.5 grade point average–not that the classes weren’t rigorous. But my instructors figured out how to get through to me.” Dreher’s choice for a note taker paid off in more ways than one. Bethany Eshelman (’00) not only helped Paul get his degree, but the couple married in 2001 and have two sons, Tyler, 6, and Nathan, 4. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in human service agency management, Dreher moved to Atlanta and worked with a nonprofit organization, but he found himself called to education and eventually became a special education teacher. He said, as a high-functioning person with a learning disability, he could really relate with the children in his classes. He eventually got a master’s degree in education and a specialist certification from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Dreher worked for about 10 years in education, and while he enjoyed it for the most part, he and Bethany decided it was time to come home where they could raise their kids near their families. “Working together to create this new business is something that we’re all really excited about,” Dreher said. “I tell my sons that they’re my vice presidents and give them jobs to do.” While he is not working directly in education anymore, the new business utilizes his background and passion for learning. “I really wanted to do something close to my educational roots, and our products are all about learning and development,” Dreher said. “Kids today are bombarded with so much information. They never have a chance to just breathe. They need a chance to get outside and let their brains absorb everything; then they start making connections.” AFTER EDUCATION CAREER, DREHER TAKES A SWING AT BEING HIS OWN BOSS by SCOTT WUERZ Paul Dreher (’00) Lindenwood University ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT 4 Working together to create this new business is something that we’re all really excited about.” Paul Dreher “