More about Esther Jantzen
What’s a person to do?
I’ve got a bit of gypsy-pilgrim-wanderer-traveler blood in me, but also I’ve got strong mothering, nest-making instincts. Plus, I like many things: art, books, people, kids, researching, walking, conversation, spiritual topics, personal growth workshops, cooking, taking pictures, and countries like Russia, Greece, India, Spain, England….
What’s a good way to live that incorporates those interests and impulses?
Here’s what I’ve chosen in the past decades.
As an Educator
Before focusing on my own writing, I had twenty-five years of experience as a public school English teacher in Kansas City and urban Philadelphia. Though it still surprises me when I think of it, I was selected Teacher of the Year in the Philadelphia School District in 1986. I also served briefly as a central office administrator with categorical programs in Philly.
As an Entrepreneur & Writer
Then I’d had enough of that teaching life. I’d seen my dancer daughter through college and I wanted new adventures. So several years after leaving the East Coast for sunny California, I stepped bravely (and naively) into the entrepreneurial world.
In 2006 in Pomona CA, I founded JantzenBooks, Inc., an educational materials publishing company that focused on parenting education and family literacy. Unfortunately, at that time I didn’t know much about marketing, so my tiny company went out of business in 2010.
In that period I wrote PLUS IT! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids (published by Morgan James in 2009). To PLUS IT! means to take something you’re already doing and make it more useful or better. This slim book shows parents how to make routine home-life experiences a bit more educational and fun for kids, without extra time, trouble, or cost.
PLUS IT! is an easy read, chock-full of excellent ideas and examples for moms and dads, babysitters, and teachers, too. It’s great for new parents, uncles, aunts, and others who don’t have much experience with kids, but want to do right by them. It’s a wonderful baby-shower gift! You can order it on Amazon.
Another publication of JantzenBooks, Inc., was the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal™ system. It’s now out of print, unfortunately. But… it provided elementary schools with ways to support parents in helping their children become better readers and learners. Its website had FREE activity sheets (in Spanish and English) with instructions for families (one activity a month for two years) to helping kids develop vocabulary, think creatively, improve study skills, and read.
At this time the Family Learning Journal website is not up. BUT I mention it here because if you would like access to the free materials, let me know through the Contact page and I’ll do my best to get them to you.
I also published a few articles on family literacy in those years:
On My Own Camino
After Jantzenbooks, Inc., went out of business, my interest in the Camino de Santiago in Spain increased. I went there in 2008, 2011, and 2013. And in the process of writing multiple drafts of WALK: Jamie Bacon’s Secret Mission on the Camino de Santiago, I learned everything I know about how to write for the middle-grades audience. What a fabulous journey of discovery, challenge, and expansion writing that book was (and still is)!
Trying Out a New Lifestyle Template
Now as a house-sitting nomad, I’m pretty darn happy. I don’t know how long I’ll live without a home base, but so far it’s satisfying. Yes, it’s sometimes stressful, but the satisfaction outweighs the drawbacks. For now! If you’re an Instagram user, follow me at “house_sitting_nomad” to see photos of some of the places I land.
More Formal Credentials and Other Bio Stuff
I have a B.A. in English from Bethel College, North Newton, Ks; an M.Ed. in Psychology of Reading from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.; an M.A. in Spiritual (Applied) Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, Ca; and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Temple University.
I grew up in India as a child of Mennonite missionaries, which probably explains my interest in travel. Growing up, I attended the famous Woodstock School, an excellent boarding school in the Himalayan foothills. As a single parent, I raised my beautiful dancer daughter in Philadelphia. And nowadays when our schedules permit, I love spending time and taking trips with my two grandchildren in California. Life is a miracle.