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 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 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.
But in that interval I wrote PLUS IT! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids (published by Morgan James in 2009). In case you are wondering, to PLUS IT! means to make something you’re already doing a bit more educational for kids, easily. It’s a way to add value and fun to routine home life without a lot of extra time, trouble, or cost. PLUS IT! is a small book, chock-full of ideas and examples for moms and dads, grandparents, babysitters, and teachers, too. It’s especially useful 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 great baby-shower gift. You can find out more about it or order it on Amazon.
However, the main publication of JantzenBooks, Inc., was the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal™ system. Now out of print, this product was designed to provide elementary schools with ways to support parents in helping their children become better readers and learners. Its website had FREE activity sheets with ideas for families (enough for one-a-month for two years) focused on helping kids develop vocabulary, creative thinking, study skills, and reading. They promoted family bonding through sharing, conversation, acknowledgement, organization, family pride and fun, and community exploration. Most of these activity sheets were in Spanish as well as English. At this time the website is not up, but if you would like access to the free material, let me know through the Contact page and I’ll do my best to get them to you.
Here are links to a few articles on family literacy I wrote in those years:
On My Own Camino
After Jantzenbooks, Inc., went out of business, my interest in and love of the Camino de Santiago grew: I went there in 2008, 2011, and 2013. And in writing multiple drafts of Walk, Sweat, & Wonder, I’ve learned everything I know about how to write for the middle-grades audience. What a camino, what a journey of discovery, challenge, and expansion that’s been (and still is).
More Formal Credentials and Other Bio Stuff
I have a B.A. in English from Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas; 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. Yep, life is very good.