Sylvia Keepers has conducted a successful home tutoring service for more than 35 years. SMART! A Reading Tutor’s Guide grows out of her experience helping hundreds of students learn to read with skill and enthusiasm.
After earning a degree in education in 1961 from the University of Denver, she began teaching in a small-town school district in Oklahoma. Although her students learned to read as well as the veteran teachers she worked with, she felt there was much more to understand about the complex task of reading and spent the next few decades observing how children learn (and often don’t learn) to read.
Sylvia says, “I chose to teach reading because it provided a vehicle to help kids develop personally. I wanted a way to help them learn to direct their attention, exercise their imaginations, and sharpen their powers of observation. I wanted them to be able to express themselves and to listen carefully, and to go beyond the easy answers, at least some of the time. And that worked. Reading with kids was helping build values and shape character (probably mine and as well as theirs).”
Each step of Sylvia Keeper’s career brought with it a unique set of lessons and challenges. She was a recreation leader in a poor urban neighborhood and a substitute teacher in a largely affluent African American school district, positions that helped hone her cultural sensitivities. She worked as a homebound teacher, tutoring students unable to attend school because of illness or disability. Homebound teaching showed her the importance of including the whole family in the student’s education and provided her the chance to discover what worked and what didn’t in the delicate balance of family dynamics.
Sylvia taught and designed courses at a speed reading institute in Denver; the speed reading course contained in SMART! came directly out of that work. Sylvia conducted an in-depth homeschool program in English and History for high school students―a kind of do it yourself alternative high school for teens in difficult circumstances. She was a visiting tutor at several private Boulder area high schools, a job that gave her the satisfaction of mentoring the same students over a period of several years and seeing how they developed both academically and personally.
Sylvia Keepers relishes the contrasts of her work. She taught English as a Second Language in the Littleton, Colorado, schools to Vietnamese refugees and a course in “Reading with Speed and Comprehension” through Continuing Education at the University of Colorado to a group of mostly pre-med students. Currently, she uses the exercises described in SMART! to help university students prepare for the verbal reasoning section of the medical school entrance exam.
Sylvia was a founding member of Boulder Educational Services, an organization of tutors and allied professionals who met monthly to explore various educational topics. She is a longtime member of the Colorado Council of the International Literacy Association.
Sylvia and her late husband Terry Keepers founded Keystone Court Press, publisher of SMART! A Reading Tutor’s Guide and Terry’s poems and important book Homesteading the Soul: A Spiritual Apprenticeship with a Prairie Grandfather. To learn more about their work, visit Keystone Court Press.
Sylvia Keepers continues to tutor into her seventies. She loves hiking, bicycling, and reading stories and poetry. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. For additional information about Sylvia’s tutoring work, please contact her.