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Joan’s twenty-five-year career in education has afforded her the opportunity to spend time in many interesting places and to work with countless thoughtful colleagues. Currently, she is the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Prior to this, she held a wide range of positions including K-12 teacher, literacy coach, adjunct professor, national consultant, curriculum writer, and district administrator. She has taught, consulted, or conducted research in schools and districts across the country including Baltimore, Boston, Cambridge, Detroit, Hawaii, Houston, Louisville, and Montgomery County. She spent ten years as a classroom teacher (grades K-2 and 4-5) before becoming a school-based literacy coach. She went on to be a district coach and the Director of Literacy in the Boston Public Schools. In each of these roles, Joan has embraced the chance to collaborate with others who share her commitment to positively impact the lives of children through literacy.
Joan’s interest in writing instruction—specifically interactive writing—initially stems from her own struggles as a grade 4-5 classroom teacher. During writers’ workshop, she did what she knew: modeled her own writing, scribed for her students, and read-aloud many mentor texts written by award-winning authors. She also dabbled in the six traits and frequently analyzed her students’ writing, seeking answers for where to go next. While much of this helped her students, she sensed they needed more explicit guidance. This feeling grew as she visited many classrooms as a district coach and then a national consultant. She also recognized a common challenge: writing instruction was not given the time nor the attention it needed. Moreover, the teachers she met were looking for ways to develop their student writers and were eager for concrete guidance on how to do so efficiently and effectively. When her coauthor, Kate Roth, approached her to write about interactive writing, it was an easy sell!
Since 2007, Joan has been a national literacy consultant, presenter, and curriculum writer. Her literacy and leadership consulting work has focused mainly in urban school districts where low-income students and students of color may struggle to meet the ever-demanding reading and writing standards. She also serves as a literacy advisor to The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for high academic achievement for all students. With Ed Trust, she coauthored Checking In: Do Classroom Assignments Reflect Today’s Higher Standards?, a national report that summarized an analysis of over 1,800 middle school literacy assignments in English language arts, history and science. Joan is most passionate about supporting school-based efforts to improve and refine literacy practices through a wide range of adult learning experiences.
Joan began her career in Teach for America and earned a master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She went on to earn her Doctorate of Education in K-12 School Leadership at Vanderbilt University, Peabody College. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband (a long-time school principal) and their two teenaged children.