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Education Worldwide

"People Need to See the Program in Action to Understand its Potential"


Interview with Dr. Miriam Westheimer, director of HIPPY International

Dr. Miriam Westheimer has been working in the field of education and social services as a founding executive director, international director, board president, project manager and organizational/educational consultant.

She co-authored the best-selling international textbook and multi-media series Focus on Grammar, now in its third edition. Additionally, based on her experience teaching English in Israel, she helped conceive and create a global course to teach teen-agers and adults how to communicate effectively in English.

Dr. Westheimer has spent the last 20 years adapting and disseminating a home-based, early childhood program (HIPPY) first in the USA as the founding executive director and is currently the director of HIPPY International.

What are you currently reading?

I usually try to read two types of books – one professional and one for enjoyment. Professional: A whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. Enjoyment – Philip Roth Short stories.

Why do you feel reading is so important?

Expands your horizons, escape, relaxation.

In your experience, what are the main issues when it comes to literacy?

Starting early – very early – reading to infants! Using engaging reading material for young students. Finding the right balance between whole language and phonics! The right fit for the individual learner.

What do you wish to achieve with HIPPY International?

Expand the program to new countries to help families with preschool children learn how to create homes filled with literacy and early learning.

What are currently your main challenges?

Finding the appropriate international partners.


Which lessons have you learned so far?

Starting a pilot project in a new country is key. People need to see the program in action to understand its potential. Every program needs to have a solid evaluation plan attached. This needs to both inform current practice and help to solicit funds.

Working with like-minded partner, while challenging is critical. Families are better served when program providers work together to complement – rather than compete with – one another.

What are your plans for the future?

Explore innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to support the growing program.

Seek and develop new international partners.

Is there anything I should have asked?

No, thank you.

Dr. Westheimer, we would like to thank you for this interview.