Kathryn Starke is an urban literacy consultant, reading specialist, author, keynote speaker, adjunct professor, and the founder of Creative Minds Publications. She has been featured on multiple media platforms, including Success Magazine, Inspire Me Today, Virginia This Morning, New York Post, and Thrive Global. Kathryn has served as a literacy trainer for the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and VCU AmeriCorps program. She is the creator of Tackle Reading, an annual literacy educational initiative supported by the NFL.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Kathryn graduated from Longwood University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in Literacy and Culture. She has taught first, second, and third grade and served as a reading specialist and district literacy coach for over a decade in inner-city/Title I schools in Richmond Public Schools and Chesterfield County Public Schools in Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of Amy’s Travels, a multicultural children’s book used in schools in over twenty countries on six continents. The book was recently turned into a musical by the Latin Ballet of Virginia. Her books, Tackle Reading and A Touchdown in Reading, are part of a national educational initiative supported by the NFL.
Kathryn Starke started the company in 2005 in Richmond, Virginia, initially to promote her first book entitled Amy’s Travels. She has expanded her company to work with elementary school teachers and educational leaders nationwide to understand how to implement best practices in literacy. With Kathryn’s teaching experience in urban school systems, she sees firsthand that all children can learn to read when provided with quality literacy instruction. Kathryn works with fellow educators, organizations, and corporations to promote reading through books, projects, events, and creative initiatives. Her company publishes award-winning children’s books and educational materials written by fellow educators.
StarCentral magazine recently caught up with Kathryn to discuss his journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
While much of our business growth comes from referrals, we use Instagram and Twitter, guest blog posts, and guest podcast appearances to continue to maintain and grow the business. We also establish partnerships with organizations like the NFL to increase awareness of our work.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Social media marketing and guest posts/podcasting have proven to be the most effective marketing forms throughout the years.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Over the last few months, the toughest decision has been on what to prioritize, resulting in the most significant impact on schools.
How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I work in the business of education, so when schools were closed around the country during the pandemic, my in-person consulting jobs stopped. Unfortunately, the lack of in-person instruction and coaching negatively impacted elementary schools, teachers, and students around the world.
How have you adapted your business operations in response to COVID-19 and its associated impacts?
We can now offer virtual consulting and online literacy seminars to schools around the world as a response to COVID-19.
What have been some of the most important lessons you learned from this pandemic?
Reading education and teacher preparation was a great concern before the pandemic. These issues have only become of greater concern because of the pandemic. Only 37% of nine-year-old children were reading on grade level before the pandemic; this percentage has decreased. Teacher shortages are also at an all-time high because of the pandemic. We have so much work to do to improve the educational system in America.
What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses all over the world?
I want to see small businesses around the world continue to grow, expand, and last. When a business solves a problem, fills da need, or supports a cause, they are essential.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up a new business in this pandemic?
As the entrepreneur, always remember that you are responsible for sharing your story and introducing your new business to the world. Don’t be afraid to use social media to your advantage, and be willing to give away your goodies and expertise for free.