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Kathryn Starke: “Reach for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars”

I created my company to motivate, support, and inspire children, parents, teachers, and fellow educators. During these times, we want to continue our mission for these essential individuals at home and working on the front lines. It is not heroic but certainly our way of giving back to the real heroes. Author Donna Dalton created […]


I created my company to motivate, support, and inspire children, parents, teachers, and fellow educators. During these times, we want to continue our mission for these essential individuals at home and working on the front lines. It is not heroic but certainly our way of giving back to the real heroes. Author Donna Dalton created the Buy a Pair, Pay it Forward initiative after watching the news every day and recognizing the irony that of any setting she could have written about in the world, she chose New York City. New York City needs our love and support today.


As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathryn Starke Kathryn.

Starke is an urban literacy consultant, author, and founder of Creative Minds Publications, an educational publishing company. Her company published Amy’s Travels, the first children’s book to teach the seven continents, as well as a children’s travel series. She wrote Tackle Reading, which is also the name of a national literacy initiative supported by the NFL, NFL Alumni, and WNFC. During this era of coronavirus, Creative Minds Publications has implemented Tackle Reading at Home with the support of athletes to motivate and support children and families learning at home. Their recent publication, Two Mice in New York, is part of an effort to give back to essential workers in New York City.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, as the oldest of three girls. My mom is an educator, and my dad is an entrepreneur. He has been a business owner, college basketball coach, and candidate for US Congress. We were encouraged to work hard, follow our dreams, be respectful and kind to everyone, accept others, and give back.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I do remember my mom reading me The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and thinking about how thoughtful, kind, and selfless the tree was to the young boy. It certainly portrays the power of a loyal friend, which can be hard to find but are so valuable in this world.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“Reach for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars.” For me, it is a reminder to follow the biggest dreams or ideas that I have because they will always lead to something special.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

Like everyone else, our company has had to shift our focus since we spend most of our time in elementary schools supporting teachers and students in reading. We have decided to support the teaching and learning process at home through several different initiatives. Firstly, author Donna Dalton has written her third book in a successful children’s travel series entitled Two Mice in New York: A Holiday Adventure. In conjunction with the book’s setting and the COVID-19 pandemic, she has created the “Buy a Pair. Pay it Forward” initiative. When a pair of these books are purchased, a personalized copy of the book will be donated to the child of a nurse in New York City’s hospitals. Secondly, we have implemented Tackle Reading at home to increase the motivation and literacy support of children and families. We have athlete readers and authors from the NFL, NFLA, and WNFC reading books online, offering giveaways, and sponsoring writing contests.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

A hero is someone who makes a difference or impact in the life of a person, a city, society, or the world.

In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Observant — A hero is aware of his or her surroundings and notices everything.

2. Big-hearted — A hero truly cares about others.

3. Accepting — A hero does not judge anyone but rather accepts people for they are on the inside.

4. Brave — A hero is not afraid to do the right thing or help someone out, no matter how hard it may be.

5. Empathetic — A hero is compassionate to another’s feelings.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

I believe that heroes come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and backgrounds. I also believe that people do not plan or set out to become heroes. Many times, people are put into a situation or circumstance where they feel the need to jump in and help, and they can’t always explain the reason.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

I created my company to motivate, support, and inspire children, parents, teachers, and fellow educators. During these times, we want to continue our mission for these essential individuals at home and working on the front lines. It is not heroic but certainly our way of giving back to the real heroes. Author Donna Dalton created the Buy a Pair, Pay it Forward initiative after watching the news every day and recognizing the irony that of any setting she could have written about in the world, she chose New York City. New York City needs our love and support today.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

Without question, the heroes right now are in hospitals, grocery stores, and post offices. As an educator, I also believe that teachers are heroes every single day.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

I believe the unknown can be frightening.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain? While the unknown can be frightening, hope is trusting that something great will happen, whether it is in your job, relationship, or lifestyle. Hope reminds us that something positive can certainly come out of something so painful.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

When I am watching the news, I am always shocked and horrified at the fights, violence, or injustice for people that are evident during this pandemic. On the other hand, I am inspired when I see how communities have together to feed, teach, celebrate, and give back to neighbors of all ages.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

Our society has a “go, go, go” mentality. We are also social beings. This pause of our normal daily lives has certainly shown us who or what is important in our lives. I hope it also gives people a better understanding of a work-life balance.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I would love to see people initiate conversations with strangers when they are out and about instead of being buried on their phones. I would hope people become more tolerant, accepting, appreciative, and kind to each other.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I believe we are all given a gift, a passion, and the tools to make a positive impact on society. When you discover what that is inside you, you have the opportunity to make an instrumental difference in the life of at least one person.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

When schools resume, we need to put urban literacy education at the forefront of our instruction and educational plan. Tackle Reading is the movement I created to highlight, promote, and support in America.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Melinda Gates.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow @KathrynStarke on social media and www.creativemindspublications.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

_________

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