I’m a voracious reader, nationally published freelance writer, gardener, baker, and pickleball player. I love going to concerts, live theater, literature readings, and art shows. I love talking to outside the box thinkers. I am a lifelong learner, and enjoy an adventure in another part of the world. I consider myself an ally to Black, Indigenous, and all youth of color as well as to 2SLGBTQ+ young people, whose needs have too often been ignored by mainstream education.
I come from a family of readers, writers, and storytellers so, from a young age, I developed a passion for all three.
I went to the library every week, read books of my own choosing, and wrote stories to share with my family. These real world experiences with reading and writing were so much more exciting than the workbooks, drills and forced marches through literature and essay writing that happened in school.
In my 20s, I became a junior high Language Arts teacher because I wanted to show teens that reading and writing at school could be exciting and fun.
My classrooms were busy, often noisy, places where kids got engaged with reading and writing through group projects, discussions, and individual reflection. They used art, drama, music and photography together with reading and writing to express their ideas.
After I left the public school system to teach adult English upgrading, I discovered that many adults had never experienced the type of reading and writing environment I had provided for my secondary school students. Many had come from Indigenous and immigrant backgrounds, had moved frequently with their families as kids, and had unpleasant memories of school. As adults, they struggled with reading and writing, and often blamed themselves for their challenges.
So, I took on the role of reading and writing coach and cheerleader, helping them to approach their assignments with a whole new toolbox of learning strategies. As their skills increased, their confidence soared, and they began to enjoy reading and writing. I often heard them say, “I wish someone had taught me these things when I was a student the first time.”
My next step involved assisting secondary school and post-secondary instructors to create classroom environments that would get students engaged with learning and literacy. After earning a master’s and a Ph.D., both of which focused on literacy education, I taught at universities in Western Canada, and in Japan, China, and Uruguay.
My experiences outside of Canada taught me a lot. I realized that how people view learning, language, and literacy varies with their culture. I came home with a better understanding of how to help students with diverse cultural roots.