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 I was 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 that I wanted to be a school principal instead of continuing as a teacher. I applied for a job at a nearby elementary school and was excepted. I stayed at that school for 13 years, loving every minute, and then I was selected as Wisconsin’s 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. My 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

4 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.


  2. Robert Wigod says:

    Mrs. Yatvin,

    I am researching information for a biography I am writing on my grandmother, who received her teaching credentials from Rutgers, though I am fairly certain she was enrolled through Douglass. She always gave credit where credit is due, and regarded the women of Douglass College as role models for her spiritually and professionally. May I impose on your kindness for an email exchange so I can form an impression what it was like for my grandmother (and all women) in academia in the post-War years?


  3. writerjoney says:

    I am happy to help you, but my memory is not so good about many things. You can call me at 215 575 9565


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