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Beginner's Mind

From Shipyard to Harvard Yard: Embracing Endless Possibilities

by M. B. McLatchey

Winner of the Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

"Rippling with wisdom and creative genius."
    - Readers' Favorite
5 - Stars 



– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

"Anyone who has been influenced by a beloved teacher will savor this work; educators will especially appreciate it." - Library Journal

"Would the bad children please raise their hands?"

Discover why that statement and so many more from Beginner's Mind will have you either smiling or crying. For parents of young children, their teachers, homeschooling parents, teachers in training, and all adults interested in discovering a more loving way for children to blossom in school, Beginner's Mind is the how-to book we have been waiting for – a book that describes teaching the way we so passionately want it for our children. Told through the eyes of a very observant ten-year-old who, in real life, did go from shipyard town to Harvard University, Beginner's Mind gently answers the question, How do we want teachers to teach, inspire, and guide our children?

Teacher comments:

"A must-read for every parent and teacher.” – Kevin McIntosh, Class Dismissed

"Read this book and re-open your mind.” – Robert Fleck, PhD, Art History as Science History

"Beginner’s Mind has galvanized my teaching.” – Frankie Rollins, The Grief Manuscript

"The perfect gift for every teacher, from every loving parent." - Reader's Favorite

More Info:


Video Trailer for Beginner's Mind

Of Poets & Poetry: Prerelease Book Interview

Readers' Favorite 2021 Five-Star Reviews

Beginner's Mind in the Classroom

A Poem by the Author - "Beginner's Mind"

About the Author

ERAU Industry Day Poster

Praise by Teachers for Beginner’s Mind:

“Quirky, wise, fierce, impossibly creative, Miss D is the fourth-grade teacher we all wish we had. Risk-taking and grace-under-pressure are among the lessons she teaches her students in a hardscrabble shipyard town, sometimes at great cost. M.B. McLatchey has repaid the gift in full, adding Miss D to that pantheon of teachers we never forget, who change our lives forever – for the better. A must-read for every parent and teacher.”

Kevin McIntosh, Class Dismissed

“Einstein said he loved talking to young children because they hadn’t yet been brainwashed by education. In the sciences, it is so important to look at nature with an open mind, without preconceived notions and biases.  M.B. McLatchey captures all of this in Beginner’s Mind, revealing its secrets to the reader through the innocent eyes of a remarkable fourth grader. Read this book and re-open your mind.”

Robert Fleck, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Art History as Science History from the Paleolithic to the Present

“M.B. McLatchey’s readers encounter a visionary in this memoir about her fourth-grade classroom, a place where the dictionary becomes a ‘Sanctuary,’ where students leave space at the top of their papers for Big Ideas, and where the Busy People’s constant motion isn’t considered a nuisance but made useful instead. The teacher, Miss D, insists that her students learn to trust themselves in a world where authority offers little room for singularity. ‘Don’t look back,’ she urges us, because every day is another chance to choose how you want to live your life. Beginner’s Mind has galvanized my teaching.”

Frankie Rollins, The Grief Manuscript

“This is the work of an original, smart, and talented writer. She has a great storehouse of knowledge and a penetrating understanding of many subjects, including human beings. It is wonderful to read someone who knows a capella, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, as well as Carol Channing and Hepburn (and knows the difference).  When has a school room been given such vivid enunciation – the dioramas, shoe boxes, sticker-stars, and clay figure, the comfort of “half-truths” for other children, but not for Miss D’s. With a  “sideways glance,” they took it all in, and were forgiving, like Miss D (whose door says welcome, an endless acquittal). It is difficult to see any of us “condemned,” and yet, there are standards. Standards! I can’t go on admiring line after line, when I am only on the first two pages in my commentary (and my language is so stupid and pale in comparison), but that’s what this essay does to me; it says look, see, remember. Word for word, sentence by sentence, I am enthralled. Thank God for Miss D, and for being reminded that at least one or two of my own teachers were, if not her equals, close sisters. While the writer appears like a new comet on my horizon, I am wild to know what this writer will do next. Meanwhile, she will be “graded,” though A+ hardly describes my admiration.”

Emily Herring Wilson, Judge, Penelope Niven Award in Creative Nonfiction The Center for Women Writers, Salem College

​"McLatchey pens a love letter to her fourth grade teacher, Katherine Arthur Dunning, an extraordinarily gifted and unconventional educator who for years taught in the public schools of North Weymouth, MA . The "beginner's mind" of the book's title describes the innocence and curiosity of young children, which Dunning (whom McLatchey refers to as "Miss D") sought to cultivate. The author vividly describes her dynamic fourth grade classroom, where Miss D focused on big ideas, eliminated labels such as "good" and "bad" to describe students, designated the dictionary as a "sanctuary," and helped hyperkinetic students channel their energy through additional tasks. Interspersed throughout are brief letters from Miss D to the author, charting their enduring relationship over decades. VERDICT Anyone who has been influenced by a beloved teacher will savor this work; educators will especially appreciate it."

—Elizabeth Connor, Daniel Lib., The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina, Charleston
Library Journal

Book Cover - Front Only - Final.jpg

Where to Order:

Book details:

Publisher : Regal House Publishing

Language : English

Paperback : 230 pages

ISBN-10 : 1646030680

ISBN-13 : 978-1646030682

Item Weight : 12.6 ounces

Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.58 x 8.5 inches

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