I teach middle school English at The School at Columbia University and am the founder and director of Leaf and Pen, a start-up that offers writing retreats and workshops for educators and students. I'm a native New Yorker, a parent, an old hippie and an insomniac. I'm the author of thirty published novels for young readers, and numerous stories and essays (for adults). In 2012, I won an acclaimed Pushcart Prize for a personal essay, "Final Concert." I'm also a student in the EdM/PhD program in English and the teaching of English at Columbia University's Teachers College.
I began my career in childen's book publishing. As an editor, I launched the bestselling Sweet Valley High series; I also wrote many of the early books in the series. I spent a number of years teaching creative writing to kids and teens, while continuing to write for them. Eventually I moved from print publishing to Web publishing. I was the editor in chief of Her Online, the first commercial Web site for girls, and the editorial director of zoggle.com, a teen Web site.
I became a full-time English teacher sixteen years ago. My students make me laugh every day; they challenge me; they help me think and learn. Sharing my passion for reading and writing with them, and teaching them to become engaged, fluent readers, writers and communicators is the most deeply meaningful and fulfilling experience of my career. (If you want more information about my professional life, here's my resume.)
I love outdoor activities like swimming, biking, and cross-country skiing. I adore the beach and the ocean. I am a devoted body surfer. I live to travel. I like a tasty meal. I'm always interested in a good art show, piece of theater, dance performance or concert. I'm a voracious reader. I frequently want nothing more than to get into bed or lie in a hammock with a good book.
I know the words to countless songs of all kinds. I don't try to memorize them. I just seem to remember them.