From a young age, Beverly DeCarlo was always a voracious reader. And when it came to her early aspirations, her focus was razor-sharp: she wanted be a teacher. DeCarlo got married early on and had three children, but her dream continued to call to her. One day, she came across an article about a new Kindergarten class opening in Quebec, and she pounced on the opportunity. All she needed was her certification. Despite her busy family life, she travelled by bus every single day to take the classes until she graduated. That enabled her to become a teacher at the Chomedy Laval School Board.  

It wasn’t glamorous at first; DeCarlo taught in the basement of a bungalow until there was enough space for regular classes. But she taught with gusto and passion, and the school board took notice. They approached her and offered her more pedagogical training. She continued with her formal educational while teaching, and eventually earned her BA in Library Science and women’s studies, along with her reading certificate.  

This journey took a decade, but it was well worth the wait. In her 35-year professional career, DeCarlo proved to be an exceptional educator. “I love teaching,” she says emphatically. “To me, it’s not a chore. Sure, there are administrative duties like grading and filling out report cards. But at the end of the day, it’s about being with children and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of that.”


One of DeCarlo’s legacies was the Readers-Writers Summer Workshop that she created. It was a summer program, but unlike regular summer school. It was reading and writing focused, with intimate classes of no more than 15 students. The lessons were structured in a way that experimented with different teaching approaches.

In short, teachers did not expect their students to sit at their desk and keep quiet for three hours. Instead, the classes were highly interactive and encouraged critical thinking.  The day always began with a read-aloud, and the students got to pick the stories. They spent time writing every day, but they had agency and freedom. They were able to write about anything they wanted, in whatever form they preferred. Since classes were small, teachers were able to work with each student individually. After writing their first draft, students learned the important of revision and editing. They ultimately published their little books.

Once their stories were finished, each student read their work to the group. For DeCarlo, this was key. “Feeling like you’re being heard is an important thing, especially for young children,” she says. “Their stories weren’t tucked away in a folder, never to be seen again. They always had an opportunity to share them with the rest of the students.”

The teachers also used the stories to interact with the children and provide experiential learning. For example, they did such activities as baking muffins or cookies. It was a way to connect stories and literature with life in an obvious way, so children could see both the relevance and the magic of the written word. The students regularly brainstormed together and inspired one another, all while learning in a low pressure situation.

What’s more, the Readers-Writers Summer Workshop did not discriminate. They accepted children at any level. Some were proficient readers and writers, while others were reluctant readers. DeCarlo asserts that especially with reluctant readers, they should be encouraged to read for the sake of reading, and not as work. “I always let the children read what they wanted to read, that’s the most important thing,” says DeCarlo. “My objective was to get them hooked on how a story can entertain them and provide an escape from their everyday lives.”

The Readers-Writers Summer Workshop lasted 25 glorious years. DeCarlo has won numerous awards including the prestigious Hilroy Foundation Award. She also published a children’s book, Kyle’s Rainbow, and though she’s retired from teaching, she remains a voracious reader to this day.