The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

About Joanne

ButterflyJYI was born and grew up in Newark, N.J. where education was mediocre at the time, but free extra-curricular activities were widely available. As a child I wrote poetry, which I was good at, and loved sports, even though I couldn’t catch or throw a ball and tripped over my own feet.

In 1952 I graduated from Douglass College, then known as “New Jersey College for Women,” with a degree in English and Dramatic Arts. I wasted no time in getting married, becoming a teacher and producing three children. We also adopted a dog and a cat. In my spare time I took courses in education to become certified.

In 1959 we moved to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where my husband was a professor at the College of Agriculture. I was offered a job teaching English as a Foreign Language in a middle school, and I took it. After two years in Puerto Rico we returned to New Jersey and Rutgers University, where my husband completed his Ph.D. and I earned an M.A. in English. I also returned to teaching, taking on grades 5, 6,and 7 at an elementary school, and later grade 8 at a middle school.

In 1963, when my husband was offered a job at the University of Wisconsin, we moved there, sent our children to public schools, and I continued as a middle school English teacher. In 1966 I was offered the job of English Department Chair at a newly built high school and I accepted it with pleasure. While a high school teacher I began working on a Doctorate at the U.W. in Curriculum Development and Applied Linguistics. During that time I also bore my fourth child.

In 1974 I received my Ph.D. and decided I wanted to be a school principal instead of continuing as a teacher. I applied for a job at a nearby elementary school and got it. I stayed at that school for 13 years, loving every minute and being selected as Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year in 1985. During that time I also began writing articles about education.

Three years later my husband and I moved to Portland, Oregon where he had been offered a new job. I found a place as the superintendent/principal of a small rural district with only one elementary school and one middle school. I continued writing and loving my job. During my 12 years as a supt./prin. I was appointed to the National Reading Panel and served on it until 2000.

Physically worn out, but not tired of education, I retired from my job that year and started as a part time adjunct professor at Portland State University. I also began to visit elementary classrooms in order to write about good teaching at that level. The results were three books for teachers. In 2004 I was elected Vice President of the National Council of Teachers of English and moved up to president in 2006. Over all those years and now, I continue to care deeply about the profession I’ve served. I will be a critic of its faults and a supporter of its strengths as long as my head and hands still work together.

Joanne Yatvin

Books Published

A Room With a Differentiated View

English-Only Teachers in Mixed-Language Classrooms

Teaching Writing in Mixed-Langauge Classrooms

2 responses to “About Joanne

  1. Lance Fialkoff says:

    Refreshing. Many educators spend so much time and energy defending the imperfect status quo ante from privatization, they cannot focus on rebuilding a future public education system that will work, which might be more essential than anything else at this juncture.


    • writerjoney says:

      Thanks, Lance. I’m not sure I could be a good principal today with all the pressure from the top. But,I’m hoping that people like you and I can move things toward a better future.


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