When I was in elementary school I read all the Nancy Drew books which I realize influenced the type of fiction I enjoy reading the most today - mystery and adventure although I also like to read historical fiction, fantasy, and most other types of fiction - but not horror.
When you went to college, were you already pursuing a writing career? (or a career in illustrating? or just art in general?)
When I attended San Diego State University I majored in elementary education and started teaching second grade in the San Diego City Schools. I went back and got a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with specialization in Reading and Language Arts. Later I took the courses necessary to get an Administrator’s Credential.
If you didn't write as a child, then when did you start writing and what inspired you to start?
After teaching in a regular classroom for many years in first through sixth grades I became a Reading Resource Teacher. It was while I was in the Reading Recovery Program working with struggling readers that I started writing simple books that the students could easily read. A friend suggested that I send some of the books to Richard Owen Company as they were the ones that publish the benchmark books for Reading Recovery.
Do you do other types of writing - for example, educational,nonfiction, magazine work?
I am currently the editor of two newsletters. One is for the Retired Teachers for the School District I worked for. It goes to over a thousand people. The second newsletter is for the Orange County Reading Association where I write articles such as how parents can help their children at home and I create activities for students to do during their summer break. These are published for different levels including primary, upper elementary and junior high, and high school. I was also writing a third newsletter monthly for the Reading First Program where I highlighted the great things happening in the schools as well as promising educational practices.
What other jobs have you had before you became a writer/illustrator?
After teaching for the San Diego City Schools for eight years I got married for a second time and moved to Anaheim, CA where I started teaching for the Orange Unified School District. I was a classroom teacher, Title I Resource Teacher, Miller Unruh Reading Specialist, District Reading Coordinator K-12, and I became an Elementary School Principal for the eight years before I retired. I failed retirement and subbed as an administrator and wrote a Reading First Grant for the district which was designed to improve K-3 reading in targeted schools. The grant which was part of the No Child Left Behind Program, lasted for six years. I enjoyed visiting the seven targeted schools once a month where I walked through all the primary classrooms and gave feedback.
How has your work been recognized?
I have received many awards. I was president of the Orange County Reading Association and received the “Outstanding Contribution to Reading in Orange County.” I was president of the California Reading Association where I received the John Martin Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the California Reading Hall of Fame. In the Orange Unified School District I was named the “Outstanding Administrator of the Year” a couple of years before my retirement.
Is there anything about yourself that you'd like to share - hobbies, where you were born, special talents other than writing/illustrating.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio but have been in California since I was two years old. I enjoy tole painting and enjoyed illustrating the books I wrote for beginning readers. As students dictated their own stories to me I would turn them into books with their illustrations or my own. Now I still enjoy painting and taking my two basenji dogs to the dog park.