An interview of Jill Speering about her newest book-Rubies in the Rubble, An Educator’s Transformation from Pain to Prominence, From Abuse to Absolution, conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of Jill Speering about her newest book-Rubies in the Rubble, An Educator’s Transformation from Pain to Prominence, From Abuse to Absolution, conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

As an educator who has a long-standing interest in the best ways to teach beginning reading, I was very happy when I heard that Jill Speering had written her first book. Jill has many years of experience as a teacher and a teacher of teachers. Also, as you can see from her biography, Jill is a longtime advocate and supporter of Reading Recovery. She believes in creating programs that fit the child rather than forcing the children into one size fits all programs. Her book is an autobiography, and that autobiography goes well beyond the issues surrounding best ways to teach beginning reading. It is the story of her whole life, a story of how she overcomes adversity. Here is what one reviewer had to say about this wonderful book (taken from the back cover of the book):

I have to concur. Jill’s story does show hope and promise for us all. It is a story that provides a rigorous defense of Reading Recovery. Before it does that, it also provides us with her story, which gives the reader a roadmap of how to overcome adversity. As Jill points out, overcoming adversity is something that many of the students we serve also must do if they are ever to become readers and writers. Here is a screen capture of the book’s cover and a link to the book:


Here is a link to the interview:


Here are the questions we covered. They are timestamped.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 01:19
  2. Why did you write this book? 02:35
  3. Talk to us as an author. Tell us how your background in learning about writing helped you as you wrote this book. 4:28
  4. Is the book more of a memoir or a biography? 09:33
  5. What do you feel is the most important takeaway for readers of this book? 15:06
  6. In just a few weeks, I will be presenting at LitCon, talking about why RR is a viable approach and why children deserve access to RR (that is a strong position my friend Paul Thomas has taken). Any thoughts about that? Do you agree with Paul and I on the need for children to have access to RR when needed? 15:06 (5 & 6 were covered jointly)

Clarification of things said in the interview:  After Reading Recovery was dismantled by then-Director of Schools Dr. Joseph, all five teacher leaders and administrators left the district or retired. The majority of trained RR teachers left the district! Many were recruited by surrounding districts. 

By the way, Jill will be the keynote speaker at the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational sorority on June 2, 2022, at the University of the South at Sewanee to discuss her book (LINK). As you can tell, the book is becoming quite popular, and I again encourage you to get your copy to find out why.


Next week I’ll be interviewing Molly Ness. She will be a keynote speaker at the Write to Learn Conference. I am doing a breakout session at that live conference, which is being held in Columbia, Missouri. Information about the conference can be found at the end of the blog. I am also in the process of lining up interviews of other major literacy figures.

I also want to remind you that I will be presenting a session at LitCon on the topic of why Reading Recovery is a viable approach to early reading instruction. Immediately after that session, Paul Thomas will join me for a summary of our respective LitCon presentations, followed by an extended Q & A session. Information about Lit Con can be found at the end of the blog entry. Remember that this year LitCon is a virtual event.

In the meantime- Happy Reading and Writing!

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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I’ll be a featured speaker at LitCon in January. LitCon has changed to a virtual format this year. I hope you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the issues surrounding the teaching of beginning reading.

Link to LitCon

I’m also presenting in March at the Write to Learn Conference in my home state of Missouri. My session at that Conference is “Helping All Readers (Especially Older Readers) Improve Both Their Decoding and Comprehension Skills.”

In this session, I will share highlights about what makes for effective instruction in decoding and comprehension. I will address what to do for older students who missed out on such effective instruction. Below you will find information about this in-person conference and a link to the conference.

Link to Write to learn

Let's talk! What do you think?

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