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2013 Twenty Questions Interviews : Lorie Denhardt

20 Questions Interview with Lorie Denhardt

Mom, Preschool Teacher, Crafter, Blogger


Lorie Denhardt

1. What's your name?

Lorie Denhardt.

2. Where are you from?

New York.

3. Who are you today?

I'm a mom and a preschool teacher, a crafter and a blogger.

4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)

I'm a mom blogger who loves all things crafty, especially those that pertain to learning and development in children. I'm a homeschooling mom wannabe, a preschool teacher and mom of three who uses craft projects as a springboard for learning and creativity.

5. What's your story (how did you get here)?

I always wanted to be a teacher. I enjoyed school and learning. I had really good teachers growing up (and also some bad ones). I wanted to emulate the good ones and make sure that there would be great teachers in the future, to help kids get a good start, and develop and come to know themselves the way I feel my teachers helped me. And I wanted to be in the business and be around teachers so I could inspire them — in the teacher's lounge, at conferences, even in the teaching supply store — and in my blog — to ensure there would be more good teachers (and fewer bad ones) out there.

6. Why is creativity important to you?

Creativity is important to me because it's part and parcel of being myself. The world would be an awfully boring place if everyone just did what they had to do and no one was creative or thought outside the box. Our creativity and our unique way of looking at things is what makes us who we are, and that's what I love about each and every one of my students — watching their creativity blossom as they learn to express themselves and who they are.

7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?

I always felt the need to create. My mom always said I was born with a crayon in my hand. Drawing, cutting, pasting, gluing, and when I got old enough, writing, were all ways to express myself and I knew I wouldn't get anywhere if I wasn't doing those things. I could never have a desk job or just sit and do what I was told to do because that would mean I couldn't be me — I couldn't create — and I knew that not only would I be unhappy, but the world would be missing out.

8. How did you embrace it?

I embraced it by trying to go the extra mile in my assignments in school throughout the years. I didn't just want to get an "A." I wanted to go about the entire assignment from a completely different angle that would make my classmates — and my teachers — think about the subject matter from a perspective they'd never seen before.

9. How did that feel?

When my teachers appreciated my creativity and commended me for it, I was thrilled. I knew I wanted to make other children feel that good someday. When a teacher said I hadn't followed the directions or hadn't completed the assignment correctly, I felt proud anyway, because I had thought outside of the box and I knew that just because I hadn't done the assignment the way my teacher had expected me to didn't mean my way was wrong. I wanted to teach kids to think outside of the box and learn to appreciate and feel good about themselves for who they are, and not just make them all fit into cookie cutter shapes and do exactly the same thing. I realized that if people weren't unique, the world would be a lot less interesting and a lot less fun.

10. Where has your journey taken you?

My journey has taken me from being a quiet girl in a small school to having a big voice all across the internet (even though I'm still too shy to say much in public)! I love that I can share my ideas and my creativity with anyone and everyone but at the same time I can sit at my desk in my office, hiding behind a computer screen and still being my quiet, shy self.

11. What challenges have you faced?

For me, the biggest challenge has been adapting my teaching to the technological era. When I started, my main teaching tool was a piece of chalk. Now I use computers and social media and amazing technological tools that I couldn't even have dreamed about years ago — and they make me a better teacher. Another big challenge has been adapting to so many different special needs. Once, they only called underachievers "special needs children." But I see all my students as having "special needs" — in the sense that each one is unique and special and each one needs to be related to on his or her own terms and taught in the way that works best for him or her — be it through song, movement, hearing something explained or seeing it drawn out in front of them. We all have our different "intelligences" — children and adults alike.

12. What worked for you?

What's worked for me in terms of blogging is writing my truth. Writing what I know. Writing what's real to me.

13. What didn't work for you?

What hasn't worked is being someone I'm not. Sometimes people ask me to write about something I don't know about or put on airs and act like an expert in a field I don't feel I know enough about. When I feel like I'm not 100% in my element, people can tell. It's not authentic so, in my mind, there's no point.

14. What three tips can you share with those starting on a similar path?

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't do.
  3. Find something you love and stick with it.

15. What are you working on now?

Sometimes I feel like I have a million projects going on. But right now what I want to do is get back to basics. I'm raising my kids — that's my true calling. And I'm teaching my preschoolers (who I also consider to be "my kids"), and those are the two things that matter most to me. I don't believe in spreading myself too thin. The more projects I work on, the less time and energy I have to spend on any one of them. I blog for my own sanity — I believe everyone needs some form of creative outlet, be it music, writing, crafting, or dance, to keep them sane in this crazy world, so my writing I do for me. But aside from that, I'm trying to streamline my life and focus on what really counts.

16. What's coming up for you in the next year?

Like I said, I hope nothing is coming up for me in the next year! I want to focus on my family and "my kids" — my students — and give them all I've got, with no distractions.

17. What else do you desire/dream to do?

I've always wanted to homeschool. There are a lot of reasons I don't. One of them is money. I really need to work, to put food on the table. Another reason is self-confidence There is so much my kids need to know about the world and in life, and as they get older I am more and more afraid that I won't be able to teach them something essential that they really need to know. It's just outside my comfort level — I feel I can prepare preschoolers for their next step but I'm a little scared to prepare a 2nd grader for 3rd grade. What if I miss something?? I don't know yet whether I'll ever get over that fear, but it is my dream to step out on a limb and do that for — and with — my kids.

18. How will you make that happen?

I guess the first step is educating myself. I need to look at curriculums and talk to other homeschool parents and find out exactly what it entails. I think knowledge is power and the more I know about homeschooling, the less I'll be afraid.

19. What one question would you like to answer that hasn't been asked?

If you could do one thing in your life differently, what would it be?

I don't think I'd change a thing. Everything that's happened to me and every choice I've made has brought me to where I am and who I am today — and I'm pretty happy with things just the way they are.

20. What’s your Web site address?