What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
I’m definitely a deductive reasoning gal so I was all about Clue and Mastermind and yes, my sister and I would always fight over who would be Miss Scarlet!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I was kindergarten teacher and firmly believe in the value of learning through play. Whenever people ask me to recommend a Kindergarten-Readiness program, my first response is “play board games.” Learning how to take turns, follow the rules, make decisions and work together ~ key skills for succeeding in games and in life.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite you?
I love what I see as a continual explosion of and complex and sophisticated board games that appeal to everyone from tweens to adults. This year, my big goal is to learn how to play Settlers of Catan, as everyone I know who plays it says it’s incredibly engaging, and fun. I am a huge fan of family game night and look forward to continuing our tradition as my son gets older and the games become more challenging and intricate.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Be okay with failure. Before my first children’s book was published (2004), I pitched the concept to a ton of publishers and got a ton of rejection. I knew then that publishing is a lot like dating, there will be a lot of “no’s” but eventually you will find a publisher who will be the right fit.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
My first year out of graduate school, I got a job teaching Pre-Kindergarten at a private school in Virginia. When they offered me the job, I said yes right away, thrilled to finally be employed. The problem was I didn’t do my homework and research the school, and I soon discovered the school’s educational philosophy and curriculum was at loggerheads with my teaching philosophy. The school was all about worksheets! Yep, even in Pre-Kindergarten. The school wanted to show parents that they taught math, handwriting and spelling so they required us to have our kids do worksheets every day. There was no creativity, no flexibility and no understanding of child development. It was the kind of school that wanted kids to color inside the lines. Needless to say, I left the school as soon as the school year was over and went to work at a school that was steeped in hands-on, experiential learning where kids could not only color outside the lines, but they were encouraged to create their own lines in which to follow.
Do you have any kiddos?
I have one son, Jackson, age 11. He loves the Young Inventors Challenge. In fact one year he made flyers to pass out to all the ChiTAG booths inviting everyone to come visit him during the challenge. He also created a raffle during the Bloggers Breakfast, inviting everyone to drop his or her business cards in a box so he could pick the lucky winner. I thought this was a great idea until I realized the grand prize was my iPhone! Needless to say that was the last time he hosted a raffle.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, We have Tucker, age 3. He is a rescue dog, part-hound, part-lab and part-pit. He, however, thinks he is also part-squirrel as he usually tries to climb trees during our walks.
What’s your favorite TV show?
We don’t watch a ton of TV but Jackson and I recently watched “Stranger Things” and are obsessed. We can’t wait for season 2 to find out what happened to Eleven.
Learning to Play Settlers of Catan