Trying to Rebel
Kendra’s grew up in Chicago, with professor parents and a lot of snowstorms. Her childhood dream was to move anywhere that was hillier and warmer, and be a choreographer who worked with at-risk kids. She followed this dream into a career as a dance therapist, working with kids who had lost a piece of their family or themselves. Obviously, her goal to dissent from an ancestry of educators and administrators failed. She kept finding herself in consultation meetings in schools.
The Impacts of Illiteracy
The road to expertise in reading and writing began decades ago as a counselor for incarcerated adolescents. She discovered that their diminished self-esteem was intricately woven into reading and writing struggles. On a quest to ratchet up their abilities, she consulted a University Library, where she was overtaken with the voluminous, disparate information on best to teach literacy.
On a Quest
This led to a journey of navigating the many roads of how best to teach, so as to coach her teen clients in growing literate. She delighted in guiding them to discover how decoding words worked, and how writing was so much more than grammar.
What Graduate School Didn’t Teach
She became a conference junkie, finding ways to volunteer and get in on a discount. In Chicago’s urban classrooms, she continued to learn how children become readers and writers. She remained mystified by the numbers of children who were non-readers by 3rd grade. How could that be? The conference researchers she befriended taught her far more than her Masters Degree in Education. She discovered that the most impressive results came from using strategies for learning disabilities with all students.
At a conference in 1996 she was invited to work for the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE) in California. Their mission was to present the National Reading Panel research, hot-off-the-press, to K-8 teachers. This report – now referred to as “The Science of Reading” – revealed how children needed systematic, explicit literacy instruction in K-2. She wrote materials, presented in-services, conducted lesson demonstrations, and coached teachers in research-based literacy practices. She also found time to pursue a second Masters Degree - in Reading - of course.
Grant money dwindled in 2000 and she went back to the classroom, teaching K-6 reading in small groups in Seattle. Active in the local IDA (International Dyslexia Association) and statewide literacy teacher cohorts, she continued to coach and mentor teachers and build her tutoring practice in reading and writing.
Rounding OutKendra also practices yoga, submits her essays and poetry, collects teddy bears, volunteers in prison, and enjoys the artistic and mountainous gifts of the Puget Sound. Our current overly visual culture is contributing to a weaker ability to think and reason, so she devotes herself to literacy in all its forms, and is always listening to a podcast or flipping through a book, when she actually sits still