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A native of Richmond, Virginia, Kathryn Starke is an elementary school reading specialist, literacy consultant, children’s author, publisher, public speaker and freelance writer. She currently serves as the CEO of Creative Minds Publications.
Creative Minds Publications is an educational company, founded in 2005, to promote and market engaging and literary products. All of our products are developed by teachers.
Creative Minds Consulting is a literacy company, founded in 2011, to provide consulting for students, parents, and teachers that ensures quality literacy instruction to all students.
MO: Where does your passion for literacy and education come from? Who or what were your early inspirations or influences?
Kathryn: My mom and six of her sisters all work in the field of education, so I believe I was destined to be a teacher. I started tutoring younger children when I was just eleven years old and was a preschool summer camp teaching assistant at the age of sixteen. I truly believe that all children are capable of being successful students and independent readers despite their experiences, so I have spent ten years teaching in urban, public elementary schools. I have taught my students, parents, and fellow teachers the importance of using quality, developmentally appropriate literature and lessons to motivate and engage our students in learning to read.
MO: What influenced you to launch Creative Minds Publications? What was the development process of putting together a company that relies on teachers to develop the products that you promote?
Kathryn: Once I wrote Amy’s Travels, which was originally written simply to provide a resource to elementary school teachers in my homestate of Virginia, I decided to start my own company. I started Creative Minds Publications to market and sell Amy’s Travels in 2005. Since then, we are now an educational company that not only provides the materials and products to create exceptional reading instruction, but we also provide the services to do so. While many individual feel they can write children’s books, I have decided that teachers have written the best materials for the target audience since we work them on a daily basis and understand their interests and the curriculum. Teachers feel comfortable working with Creative Minds Publications because our company understands the obstacles and responsiblities of a teacher’s life; we also know that the finished product will be amazing because teachers are hard working, self-motivated individuals.
MO: Why do you believe that motivation and a print rich environment are the two factors needed to promote literacy?
Kathryn: Many people, especially children are not self-motivated, so it is up to us as educational leaders to use games, manipulatives, and engaging literature to present literacy lessons that children look forward to. I hear children say to me all of the time, “How come you are the only teacher that makes reading fun?” While I am glad to hear that, it breaks my heart knowing that so many children have not been turned on to the love of reading because of their school experiences. Setting up a classroom consisting of charts, posters, vocabulary words, bookcases with baskets complete with a variety of genres of books, and pillow, beanbags, or chairs to create a comfy reading environment. My classroom actually has a wooden boat that the children sit on to read with friends or stuffed animals.
MO: How did the success of your publishing company influence you to launch Creative Minds Consulting?
Kathryn: Creative Minds Publications is now a global company; our products are used in schools, homes, and museums on six continents. Many publishing companies exist throughout the country, but few companies actually provide the services to show how to effectively implement our products. Many teachers leave the profession because they are not provided with the support necessary to understand how to work with all levels of children. Creative Minds Consulting allows me and fellow colleagues to visit schools across the nation to work alongside with teachers, students, and administration during the school day to develop the best literacy instruction to meet the individual needs of the classroom. We also provide workshops and presentations for companies, school districts, and families.
MO: You never thought that you would be an entrepreneur, let alone founder and CEO of a global educational company. Can you talk a little about your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Kathryn: It’s funny because as a child, I always played “school” but always started pretend companies on the side as well including a fashion line and an adoption agency. As an adult, I find that I have been blessed with my mom’s passion for teacher and my dad’s drive in business. I have always been a leader in the schools I have had the opportunity to teach in, and now I am honored to be considered an expert in literacy education for teachers, parents, educators, and business leaders around the world. I am always grateful for the experiences to write articles, serve as a keynote speaker, and be interviewed to share my work. I look forward to meeting more people and sharing my love of teaching and reading.
MO: Learning from mistakes is critical for entrepreneurs. Can you share some lessons learned from your past or how you would have approached things differently?
Kathryn: I definitely have to say that I figure out things as I go and do what I feel is right for me at the time. Determination is definitely the key to success. so I continue to write and contact people to provide information about me and my work. For every “not interested” I receive, I am contacted by an amazing organization or school system. I am always updating my goals and and constantly adding materials that will interest my audience. I continue to learn something new everyday.
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