Season 6, Episode 11

What I should have learned in college, with Donna Hejtmanek

Throughout this season, we’ve explored different tiers of the education system. In this episode, we look at the role higher education plays in equipping teachers with the right training and tools. Our guest Donna Hejtmanek, a retired special education teacher and reading specialist, shares her disappointing first-hand experience of going back to school at the age of 58—an experience that made her realize many universities weren’t training educators in the Science of Reading. Donna tells Susan the story of how she came to create the incredibly popular Facebook group Science of Reading—What I Should Have Learned in College, and discusses what it will take to change higher education.

Meet our guest(s):

Donna Hejtmanek

Donna Hejtmanek spent 41 years serving as a reading specialist-interventionist and president of the Literacy Task Force of Northern Wisconsin. In 2014, Governor Walker appointed her to Wisconsin’s Read to Lead Literacy Council. She has also served as legislative chair of the International Dyslexia Association and on the Legislative Council Study Committee which produced and passed Wisconsin’s first dyslexia bill, signed in 2016. Now, she creates Science of Reading professional development for teachers on her Facebook group, Science of Reading—What I Should Have Learned in College.

Meet our host, Susan Lambert

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Humanities at Amplify, and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. Her career has been focused on creating high-quality learning environments using evidence-based practices. Susan is a mom of four, a grandma of four, a world traveler, and a collector of stories.

As the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast, Susan explores the increasing body of scientific research around how reading is best taught. As a former classroom teacher, administrator, and curriculum developer, Susan is dedicated to turning theory into best practices that educators can put right to use in the classroom, and to showcasing national models of reading instruction excellence.


“The door's been cracked. It has to happen and it has to happen by having relationships with people. You just can’t walk in and just say, you know, this is the way it needs to be done. It's a slow process.” —Donna Hejtmanek
“If you're trained in a certain way, you're only exposing yourself to those researchers doing those things and that type of information. And so you don't know other sources of information of other researchers and what else might be going on.” —Donna Hejtmanek
“Learning the Science of Reading is not a, ‘You get it in one day.’ It's not like that. It's a journey and it takes time to assimilate everything you read and then turning that into a practice and shifting the thinking of millions of people.” —Donna Hejtmanek
“You get better and better at it the longer you do it. So if we just stay stagnant and are closed-minded to new things that are out there, then we can't grow.” —Donna Hejtmanek

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