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As an English Language Arts teacher in a Brooklyn middle school, READ 718 founder Emily Kirven was faced with a particular challenge: many of her middle school students were reading far below grade level and her training as a secondary English teacher did not help her address these students’ needs.

Frustrated by her inability to help these students efficiently and directly, and recognizing the problem as widespread, Emily returned to Teachers College, Columbia University to earn an MA and state certification as a Reading Specialist with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how to help struggling middle grade and adolescent readers.

After graduating in 2013, Emily worked to develop and build READ 718, opening the reading center’s doors to the community in January 2015. Emily lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children.