Degree from Michigan: English Literature
Current location: Grand Blanc, MI
Year graduated: 2010
Student Organization Involvement: Harmonettes (all female a cappella), the Michigan Pops Orchestra, and DMUM (including one year as a Team Captain)
HC: EBLI's mission is to provide effective, efficient, research-based methods of literacy instruction to educators and learners of all ages and ability levels in order to improve literacy in society. As the operations director, my responsibilities include staff management, project management, business strategy/planning, curriculum and online training creation, student instruction, and teacher training.
KC: How did you get into your current field?
HC: My degree is in English Literature. I chose that major in college because I always loved to read and had always been a huge grammar nerd. I’m now the operations director at EBLI, which is actually my family’s company. My mom started it because when my little sister was in second grade, she was a struggling reader. The schools ended up not being able to teach her how to read, so my mom did some research and found a way to teach her. In 2003, my mom created her own system to teach reading, and at this point we have trained thousands of teachers in this method.
KC: Tell me more about what you do in your role on a day-to-day basis.
HC: I’ve been in a management role working as the operations director since 2011. It’s a really small company, so in my job I oversee a lot; I train teachers and have helped to created several apps (I do project management on that and I’m also the voice of the app, which is pretty funny – my claim to fame!). I also do a lot of student instruction where I work with kids one-on-one or coach teachers in their schools, and I do curriculum development. Recently I just finished building an online training and an online Masters course for people who are getting their Masters in Education and want to teach reading. We do a lot of different things at EBLI, but the bottom line is that it’s all literacy instruction.
That was my first job out of college and I’ve been there ever since. It’s very grassroots – we’re based in Michigan, and we’ve mostly trained teachers in Michigan, although now with the online training we’ve reached California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alaska, Florida, Texas… people hear about us through word of mouth because we don’t do much advertising. That’s how it’s caught on, and it’s ended up being a great business strategy for us so far. A book was just written that featured our system, so that’s brought a lot of attention to it as well!
KC: What did you gain from your LSA degree that has influenced your career path?
HC: I grew as a writer when I was in college. Enjoying and parsing apart so many great texts in my LSA classes taught me to be mindful and purposeful in my writing. To this day, writing continues to be one of my strengths as well as one of my favorite pastimes.
KC: What are your favorite and the most challenging parts of your job?
HC: My favorite parts of my job are when I get to work with students and read with them one-on-one. Whether it’s a whole class or a small group of kids or just one student, I teach while the teachers watch. That’s my favorite part – teaching kids and training teachers. Working with kids is the best; time flies, and kids are super honest. They say whatever they’re thinking, they’re hilarious, and that doesn’t feel like work to me.
For my biggest challenges… as we have entered more into the tech realm, building apps and building the online trainings has presented a lot of challenges, since that’s not what my background is in. So every time I wanted to learn a new skill, I had to spend a LOT of time Googling it, doing YouTube tutorials, and trying to figure out developer things from the Apple website. Everything was foreign to me, and I had to learn from scratch. We had a tech guy… and then we no longer had a tech guy… so I sort of became the tech guy. That’s been a challenge, but I have learned so much from it.
KC: What would you say to any students interested in pursuing a career in education?
HC: Remember that you're there first and foremost for those you teach (whether they be young students or educators). Your job is to do what's best for them, even if it's outside of your comfort zone. Question why you're doing what you're doing. Question whether or not it's effective, and find quality ways to track the effectiveness. Be open to constant growth and evolution.
KC: What advice would you give to current students who are about to enter the workforce?
HC: Keep in mind that every single day you’re learning. I went into my career thinking I already knew a lot, and seven years later I realize I still only know the tip of the iceberg. Just keep an open mind and be open to learning all the time. Also, admit when you’re wrong and when you don’t know how to do something.