I think that I wanted to teach from the time I was old
enough to understand the concept. But I definitely didn't want to teach math. That turn around
didn't happen until I got to college and
discovered that I really didn't like to write papers, but did enjoy the satisfying "aha!" feeling of
solving a difficult math problem---must have been the puzzle lover in me!
I graduated from Agnes Scott College with a degree in mathematics and teaching certification for grades
7-12. Next I got a masters degree from the University of Kentucky in math, taught high school
math for two years in Georgia, decided that I preferred teaching at the college level, and went back to
graduate school. I ended up with a doctorate in education and a baby at about the same time, so, with my
generous husband's kind blessing, I put the degree and career on hold for ten years while I stayed home
with our three children. Those were ten years that I treasured dearly for I loved being home with our
When it came time for me to contemplate finding a
teaching position in my field (i.e., teaching
prospective teachers how to teach math) I realized that it would be presumptuous for me to try to tell
students how to teach an elementary class when I'd never done so myself. I decided I needed some
experience. Not being certified to teach K-6 in public school, I got a job in the Montessori school that
two of my children were attending. I ended up loving teaching the early elementary age children and have
been with that age ever since. After four years at the Montessori school, I felt that God was calling me
to switch to public school. I jumped through the necessary hoops to get certified there and spent the
next nine years in public elementary schools.
During my parenting and teaching I discovered that God had given me a talent for creating fun activities to help
My First Book
The idea for my first book, Clip-Clue Puzzles, was sparked by a Christmas gift of colored paper
clips by one of my children to a sibling. I fooled around with the clips thinking, "I should be able to do
something 'neat' with these. Most manipulatives used in classrooms are so expensive, but these would be
something that any teacher could afford." The result was a set of fun logic puzzles that ask the puzzle
solver to arrange the colored clips in order according to given clues.
A few years later I followed up with a similar
idea that used coins instead of paper clips. My editor
was excited and asked that I do a whole set of books using a different manipulative in their line for each
one. At that point I wasn't very confident about my abilities as an author and was willing to agree to
only one book at a time. I asked my daughter Susan to co-author the one on Cuisenaire Rods that my editor
requested first. Unfortunately, just as we finished the book my publisher was taken over by a big
conglomerate that decided to get rid of the part of the company which handled manipulatives. My three
books ended up being published by three different publishers and the concept of the on-going set was
Other aspects of authoring seemed to go downhill, too. The year our Rod-Clue Puzzles was finally released
I spent most of my time free from teaching trying to get two manuscripts accepted for publication. Every
place I submitted them sent me a rejection! I was really discouraged.
Using God's Gifts
Then the next spring I participated in a
study at our church of John Ortberg's inspiring book If You Want to Walk
on Water, You've Got to Get out of the Boat. One of the chapters talks about having the faith to use
for God the untapped gifts which he's given us. I can remember sharing with my small group that I thought
God wanted me to use the writing gifts he'd given me to do more writing. (In spite of my lack of success
the previous year and in spite of the fact that I had no idea in which direction to go next, this seemed to
be what God wanted me to be willing to do.)
I don't believe that it was a coincidence that just a few weeks after the book study, my sister Betty
mentioned to me that MindWare was carrying my Clip-Clue Puzzles book in their catalog. I decided
to email MindWare to see if they might also be interested in carrying my coin book. It turned out that at
that very moment they were looking for an author to write a set of Venn diagram books for them and
asked if I wanted to do them!
I wrote the set of four Venn books for MindWare and provided them with several other manuscripts
which they liked and chose to publish. I've authored a total of 24 books for them at this point. Five of the books were co-authored with
my daughter Susan and another with my son Stephen.
I was excited to work next with Nasco, another
publisher, on several projects. They've now published twelve of my books and seven math games. Since I'd found
co-authoring with my children such a satisfying, rewarding experience, we did it again with five of these books.
Then I had the privilege of working with three more publishers. Pieces of Learning published two books I
co-authored with my sister-in-law. Fat Brain Toy Company published seven of my books. Two of those have received
special recognition. A total of five awards! That was very exciting. Most recently, I've had
a puzzle book about Kentucky published with The History Press.
I don't know where God will be leading me next on this adventure of authoring. It's definitely not a
voyage that's all easy sailing, but hopefully I'll be receptive to whatever his will is for me.