Kimberly Greene: Author of My Sister is a Pop Star

[quote style=”boxed”] Read positive books every day. When you read about negativity, it seeps into your thoughts. Read autobiographies about people who are successful, and if you read about what went wrong, learn from those mistakes. [/quote]

Dr. Kimberly Greene was an established performer, entrepreneur and college professor when she embarked on a writing career.  Guided by a personal mission to teach tweens to like themselves the way they are, her now internationally successful tween book series includes My Sister’s a Pop Star, The Fame Game and Me and My Life on TV.

The quirky and humorous stories follow a young girl named Sam whose life is thrust into the spotlight when her older sister becomes a celebrity. Originally released in Europe and met with great praise, the series has recently made its debut in the United States.

Dr. Greene has effectively created age-appropriate media that both entertains and engages tweens, without pushing them to grow up too fast. All of her writing is based on easily relatable subject matter that encourages readers to think about their own choices, likes/dislikes and actions. Dr. Greene switches from first person to third person narrative throughout the books so that her readers will create their own understanding of what is being described.

Dr. Greene boasts a diverse professional background. At the age of fifteen, she joined a traveling cast of performers on a world tour as a lead singer/dancer, where she had the privilege to sing for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.  She earned her BFA in Theater from New York University, with a minor in Jewish Theatre Studies.  Following graduation, she became the Director of Entertainment for the resort company Club Med, and traveled to various locations entertaining both young and old audiences.

Dr. Greene earned her Master of Arts in Teaching in 1989, garnering credentials to instruct grades K-12 in single or multiple subjects. In 1999, she went for her doctorate at Pepperdine University and became the youngest doctor of Educational Technology in the United States.

In 1998, Dr. Greene founded EdTech21, a consulting firm that takes the axiom ‘the medium is the message’ to a present-day active level. She consults, creates and implements diverse projects from creating content and designing interfaces to constructing and refining multi-level curriculum. She also assesses appropriate use of technology for learning and training purposes.

In 1999, Dr. Greene joined Knowledge Kids Network, an internet start-up launched by philanthropist and financier Michael Milken.  Hand-picked to craft a curriculum that would serve a national audience of children, their families and their teachers, Dr. Greene used cutting edge media-based products to design games, lessons and activities to teach math, art, science and reading in an engaging fashion.

Thousands of young readers across the globe have enjoyed Sam’s adventures in the Pop Star series, and Dr. Greene hopes to inspire many more. My Sister’s a Pop Star, The Fame Game and Me and My Life on TV are now available in the United States through Amazon, Target, and Usborne Books directly.

What are you working on right now?

I am wearing two hats.

I am the Founding Director of the new Center for Instructional Innovation in the Office of Academic Affairs at Brandman University.  I am coordinating different categories of live professional development training for our staff, faculty and students. The training is based on how to use different tools to improve the educational experience for both adults and children. We want to make education more interesting and engaging.

I am also finishing my fourth book, which is a complete departure from what I worked on before. The running title is Stinky Angel.   Although the target age is eight to fourteen years old, the book is great for families because it is about life and love. I am very excited about it!

Where did the idea for the Pop Star series come from?

Everything that I write comes from my experiences.

Prior to writing My Sister’s A Pop Star, I worked with many different types of kids. Whether they were in show business or not, they had all bought into the idea that nothing matters in life if you are not famous. It was becoming almost painful to be around. I wanted kids to realize that life is about exploring, experiencing, and learning all that you can. That was what got me to sit down and start writing the Pop Star series.

Everything I write, even academically, always comes from seeing the same things as everyone else but from a very different lens.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is different, but I typically wake up each day at 5:00 am.  Then I answer my emails and check my blog to respond to all of the kids who have posted comments on the My Sister’s A Pop Star page. Since I have younger readers, I want to protect their privacy so I delete their full names and email addresses before their posts become public. After that, I put on my professor’s hat and create training materials, videos, tutorials, and live training, as well as check out new tools that I can use in my work.  I literally don’t stop working from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm. The only reason I stop at 7:00 pm is so that I can enjoy family time.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have faith in my ideas. When you propose an idea, so many people will focus on the “why nots,” but I look at my dreams as a creative challenge, not a road block. For every “why not” that someone gives me, I find sixteen “how’s” and “why’s.”  It is a leap of faith. Nothing new takes place if you do not have faith in it. I always believe in myself.

3 trends that excite you?

  1. I spend a lot of time talking about simulation-based assessment of kids’ learning.  I have been talking about how this could, should and would happen for at least 5 years.  To see people finally recognize its potential makes me smile and gives me hope.
  2. I like to see iPads in the classroom, and not just because they are cool gadgets.   People do not view technology as valuable for education and learning, but it empowers kids and enables them to do, see, examine and attempt things that they cannot do in the physical world. It is not about replacing other activities.  It is about the experience of using a portable and easy-to-use tool that is great for visual learning.
  3. I am excited that reading has almost become cool again, thanks to trends such as Twilight, Gossip Girl, etc. Many producers are trying to reach a younger audience but oftentimes the theme tends to be better for an older age. This can sometimes cause worry for parents, so I am happy that kids are starting to read more age-appropriate books.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I was an intern for The Late Show with David Letterman. The pressure was really horrible. Some of the people were not very nice and I got yelled at on a regular basis.

On one particular bad day, a woman with one of the highest-ranking jobs on the show took me aside and asked what was wrong with me because I was not acting like myself. I started crying and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore. No amount of college credit is worth doing this internship.” She replied, “I know there is a lot going on and a lot of crazy people work here, but when push comes to shove, we are not curing cancer.”

I have held onto that idea whenever a situation has become ugly, scary or dramatic.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

On some level, I wish I could go back in time and talk to myself when I was five or six years old. I have always loved science and technology, but I did not really work hard with that subject matter because science was “meant for boys” back then. I would love to go back in time and tell myself that it was not true. Maybe I would be an oncologist today.

I love what I do, but in my spare time, I am constantly looking at quantum physics, bio-mechanics, etc., which I never got to do enough as a child.

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Read positive books every day. When you read about negativity, it seeps into your thoughts. Read autobiographies about people who are successful, and if you read about what went wrong, learn from those mistakes.

Tell us a secret…

The only reason I get measured as 5 feet tall is because I always poof my hair before going to the doctor.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

How you read to your child is very important. I would love to be a reading coach for parents because a lot of them do not know how to read to young children to help them get more out of the experience. I do not think anyone gives this type of advice, so I would love to offer a seminar.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

I love the book Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner.  He beautifully breaks down discrete skills, critical thinking, forward-looking, and other things that you may learn in a leadership course. People do not realize how crucial these concepts are to success. Howard Gardner is one of my heroes and his latest book is brilliant. Everyone should read it.

If you weren’t working at Brandman University and your books what would you be doing?

I would probably be teaching K-12 and I would still be writing. Even when I was not a published author, I was still writing. One great thing about the internet is that there are so many different outlets, such as poetry blogs, fan fiction, etc. Everyone can be a writer.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

I like to follow people on Twitter who are informative or witty.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Last night, I was working hard and sitting at my computer when I heard, “Arrgghh!”

My four-year-old son was standing there with a pirate patch over one eye, and I screamed “Ahhh!” He then lifted his patch and said, “It’s ok, Mommy. It’s me, Grady!” I laughed very hard.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

I would love to see Amy Bruckman interviewed. She is a brilliant woman who attended Harvard University and is currently an associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.  She creates educational technology for kids, and she was an inspiration to me when I was working on my doctorate. She should definitely be on your radar.

Why should anyone work in education today?

I truly believe that life is not about being right. It is about doing what is right. Since we all have different gifts, we want to help the next generation make the most of who they are and the gifts they possess. Teaching and education helps children discover and enhance their strengths.

Do you get to go to the gym enough?

The what??


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