Kendra’s childhood dream was to combine her love of dance with a desire for social justice. She found a program in Seattle, far from the flatlands of the Midwest, and as a dance-movement therapist, worked with children who had lost a piece of their family - or themselves.
Later, as a therapist for juvenile offenders, she discovered that their bitterness and diminished self-esteem were intricately woven into their struggles with reading. She learned of the statistics about the correlation of illiteracy to life behind bars, and the numbers were staggering. On a quest to ratchet up their abilities, she was overtaken with the disparate research on how to teach reading. “The Reading Wars” was at its height, and the teens she worked with needed everything on both ends of the spectrum: the sub-skills of phonics, and engagement with a variety of books.
This led her to graduate school, and as a 1st grade teacher and reading specialist she continued to learn how children became readers, yet was mystified by the numbers of children in the U.S. who were non-readers by 3rd grade. How could that be? As a devoted conference attendee of literacy and learning disability organizations, she found her answers. What they didn’t teach in Graduate School was that the most impressive results resulted from using explicit instruction in the underpinnings of reading and writing. Breaking up the process into its smallest components illuminated the mystery of children’s struggles and made her a stronger teacher.
At a conference in the 90’s she was invited to be on staff at the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE). Their mission was to teach every K-8 teacher in California how to teach reading, based on a report from the NICHD. This report linked the growing population of children who did not read at grade level to the lack of systematic and explicit instruction in K-2. She wrote materials, presented in-services, conducted lesson demonstrations, and coached teachers. She also found time to pursue a second Masters Degree, in Reading and Assessment.
Grant money dwindled in 2000, so she moved back to Seattle, as a reading specialist and literacy coach in public and private schools. Active in the local IDA (International Dyslexia Association) and ADD Resources, she pursued more certification in the brain and learning. She also contracted with Washington Research Institute, as well as Western Washington and Seattle University. If she could see something other than dollar signs and too much time in a library, she would have gotten her PhD in a heartbeat.
Not all of Kendra’s passions revolve around reading and writing. She also teaches yoga to boys in prison, attends spiritual retreats, gardens, and does somewhat crafty things when she has the patience. In the right weather you can find her trekking and enjoying the artistic and mountainous gifts of Puget Sound.
Her favorite charities to give her time and money to are:
Giving Kids in Need a Chance to Read
Bringing People and Pets Together
Reducing the Achievement Gap
Diplomas for all
Empowering Adult Learners
Providing Education to Low-Income Women