Why the world needs Janet Mort

My friend Janet is a badass.

She’s also passionate, fiery, and completely committed to helping change the world, one child at a time.

Retiring after a 35-year career as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools on Vancouver Island, Janet went back to school to earn her PhD in Early Literacy.  

Janet and her husband Michael at their home in Victoria, B.C.

Understanding the very real, very high cost of illiteracy, Janet was determined to address the unmet needs of struggling students learning to read.

I met Janet last March while hosting a retreat in Mexico.  She wasn’t a participant, but she looked interesting so I went over to introduce myself to her and her husband, Michael.

I’m glad I trusted my intuition because Janet and I were supposed to meet. 

We didn’t understand why then, but we do now. The universe provides, even when your shrimp cocktail is getting soggy.  (If you haven’t read my prior blog about Janet and our synchronicity, please do it now).

JANET is a problem solver.

Play Video

One of the things I love about Janet is her ability to get things done. 

When her husbands physician retired and they were unable to find consistent care through her health plan, Janet rallied as Michael’s advocate.

She ran an ad in her local paper, the Victoria Times Colonist, seeking a new doctor for Michael.

The response was overwhelming; not only did Janet find a doctor (over twenty responded to her plea), she succeeded in bringing national attention to a problem many others were facing in her home province,  British Columbia, Canada.

Nearly one million British Columbians were also without a family physician, according to BC Family Doctors.

Janet and Michael were interviewed for television and national news programs. 

(Press play on the graphic above for the whole story.)

Her willingness to take their private battle public reflects the same stubborn tenacity Janet brings to her professional pursuits.

After earning her PhD, Janet founded  Joyful Literacy, an evidence based program that helps children who are most vulnerable learn to read.


Janet returned to school because she wanted to know why over 35% of struggling children do not succeed in school.

Within seven years she had completed her analysis of the most compelling literacy research, designed the Joyful Literacy Framework, and implemented it in over a hundred primary pilot classrooms where data was collected by external examiners for the first four years of Joyful Literacy implementation.

The results exceeded expectations.

  • In Kindergarten, success rates rose from 40% to 80% over three years when the standard program changed to the Joyful Literacy Framework.
  • In Grade One, success rates rose from 54% to 89% over three years when the standard program changed to the Joyful Literacy Framework.
  • In Grade Two, success rates rose from 26% to 92% over three years when the standard program changed to the Joyful Literacy Framework.

Eight other superintendents chose to participate in the pilot out of frustration that only 49.8% of their grade four students were achieving grade-level expectations.

The Joyful Literacy Framework was implemented with students entering Kindergarten in 2013.

Implementation was continued through to the year they entered grade four where, after five years of the Joyful Literacy Framework, the students’ success rate had risen to 85%.

Source: Fountas and Pennel Data

the high cost of illiteracy.

This is why Janet is on a mission to transform early childhood literacy in Canada, the United States, and the world!

  • 67% of students are not proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade.

  • Students who are not proficient by the end of 4th grade are 66% more likely to wind up on welfare or in prison.

  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  • Students who are retained to repeat a grade will cost a District an average of $10,000 each.
  • The US illiteracy rate hasn’t changed in over 10 years.
  • 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

And it all starts with the quality
of our early childhood education.

janet has a plan.

Building on seven years of research and data collection, Janet created a literacy program she named Joyful Literacy.

This school-based program combines a clever use of technology with an evidence-based literacy approach that enables teachers to assess their students, track progress, and boost literacy success.

Using her proven Circle Chart methodology to assess, teach, and track all eight literacy foundation skills, this framework is broadly applicable. 

Janet’s goal is for the Joyful Literacy program to be used internationally in Kindergarten to Grade 3 classrooms across the world, a goal that will be met by offering in other languages.

In addition to this robust curriculum, Janet has written several books that weave together the essential assessment, teaching, and tracking components of Joyful Literacy with practical and effective classroom strategies for optimal teacher- student learning activities.

And because Janet understands that reading begins before school, her books also help parents who want to support and foster their child’s reading skills at home.

Along with her associate, Chelsea  Mytko, Janet provides online help for parents via their Born to Read YouTube channel. 

All videos include free and accessible lessons for parents to teach their child to read at home from the womb to kindergarten.

This winning combination is further supported by the Joyful Literacy Teachers App, which Janet created to help teachers easily track and support students who need extra help and attention in their classrooms.

Teachers! Click here to access a free trial!

Joyful literacy in the u.s.

When Janet told me about her plans to expand Joyful Literacy in the United States, I immediately asked, “How can I help?”

Since returning from Mexico I have met with Janet and Chelsea to learn more about how the program and app work within the classroom for proven results. 

They’ve also been busy meeting with other developers, marketers, and educators to help expand the Joyful Literacy program to the U.S. and beyond. And it’s working. They’re developing an expansive plan to introduce the system and app to educators across the country.

According to the  National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), low levels of literacy cost the U.S. up to 2.2 trillion per year. In fact…

  • 79% of U.S. adults nationwide are literate
  • 54% of adults have literacy skills below a 6th-grade level and 
  • 20%  below a 5th-grade level.

But the real cost for illiterate people is far greater. 

Imagine being unable to get a job, provide for your children, decipher street signs or the label on your prescription bottle because you can’t read.  This is a huge disadvantage and one that we can correct with Joyful Literacy.

You can help spread the word by sharing this post with your neighbors, teachers, and local educators.  There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!

I want to see Janet’s story on 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday morning.  Can you help me network?  Send me your resources and contacts!

We can change the world- one reader at a time because we now know how.

Dr. Janet Mort has been a featured keynote speaker at 28 summits in B.C., Alberta, and Washington state, as well as being chosen to represent British Columbia as a literary expert at the World Congress of Education in Melbourne, Australia.

She was awarded Canada’s Queen’s Jubilee Medal 2005 for her service to children and leadership in educational change and was recognized by The Order of British Columbia in 2020.

The Order represents the highest form of recognition the Province can extend to its citizens.

But to me, Janet is just my inspirational friend, a woman on a mission to change the world for good.

If you’d like more information on Joyful Literacy, please reply to me or reach out to Janet via email.

Because everyone deserves the opportunity to learn to read and live a full life.

2 thoughts on “Why the world needs Janet Mort

  1. Tina i will send this information to all my teacher/educator friends.
    This is amazing and I also believe the two of you were supposed to meet!

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