With an M.A. in English, I have taught English and Children's Literature at the University level. For over twenty-two years, I have had the privilege of teaching students from K to 12 in the public school system through the Manitoba Arts Council's Artists in the Schools Program. I have gone into numerous Winnipeg area schools, as well as rural and Northern schools as far North as Brochet, MB. I am a specialist in teaching Literature, Story Writing, and Illustrating.
My teaching style is transformative in that I lead students through creative activities and studies in Literature and Art in order to encourage the development of the whole child. I incorporate activities that address the various intelligences. My belief is that children learn best when they are effectively challenged and are having fun.
In 2009, my anti-bullying novel, The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach was shortlisted for The Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. In 2008, I was inducted into the Shaftesbury High School Hall of Fame for Achievement in the Arts (like Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding!). I've had two Manitoba Arts Council Writers “A” grants and two "B" Grants. My children's book, Tiktala, illustrated by Laszlo Gal, was awarded the McNally Robinson Children's Book of the Year Award in 1997. In the U.S.A., Tiktala had the Parent's Choice Honor and was selected for the Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 1997 list by the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council.
I have completed the coursework required for a Ph.D. in English at the University of Manitoba. In 1991, I successfully defended the first of my candidacy exams - an exam on literature of the 20th century. M.A. in English, University of Manitoba, 1986, thesis on Canadian Children’s Fantasy Literature. B.F.A. Honours, University of Manitoba, 1982, Double Major in Graphic Design and English.
I am a writer of numerous works for all ages. My most recent publication is The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, an anti-bullying novel most suitable for students from Sixth to Ninth Grade. My illustrated fairy tale, Tiktala, was published in Toronto and New York, and has been taught in classrooms since 1996. I am married to Brian MacKinnon, teacher and anti-poverty activist, and we are parents of three young adults.