Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | April 5, 2011

God’s Purposes Revealed

Since Kathy Goforth from  Jolly Good Spellers has contributed the last two posts for my blog, I asked her to share the story of how Jolly Good Spellers was started.  I had heard her For We Are Jolly Good Spellers CD for children, and wanted her to share how the idea for the CD came to her.  Below is her story… 

Romans 8:28(Amplified) says, “We are assured that (God being a partner in their labor) all things work together (and are fitting into a plan) for good to those who love God and are called according to (His) design and purpose.”

When tragedies occur, we often hear people quote this verse to try to bring comfort in the midst of the trial. Can you think of a time when that has happened in your life? I have a wonderful example to share with you from my own life where I actually saw this verse become a reality! I hope it blesses you.

Our Kindergarten team did not feel right when Michelle failed to show up for work that morning. It just was not like the vibrant, 30-year-old teacher not to call. By the time her assistant began getting class ready for her students, the first phone call came—Michelle had been rushed to the hospital and things did not look good. An hour later, the next news rocked our world—an aneurism had taken my colleague and dear friend.

Michelle and I shared a love for teaching academic concepts through music. Her classroom was next to mine and she often ducked in when I led my students in singing out their spelling words to the melodies of familiar tunes. She decided to use the technique and we were thrilled to see our kids become better spellers.

The technique created quite a buzz in other Kindergarten classrooms and some fellow teachers half-jokingly recommended that I make a CD. The growth in students’ spelling was so great that I took the idea seriously and wrote a couple of grants, trying to secure funding. Finally, I was able to obtain funding through my sorority, AΔK.

With the proposal finally funded, I set to work. I identified a singer and guitarist and had Jolly Good Spellers produced in a professional recording studio. As no surprise, the first people to get excited about and promote the CD were AΔK sisters. They quickly saw how the tool could motivate young students to become better spellers.

One of our school’s reading specialists says, “any time a child can learn something with music or with a cute little rhyme, they learn it much faster and retain it longer.”

My team teacher, a National Board Certified teacher and AΔK sister, saw something for the first time in her decades-long career. “What we have found with this CD is that I have never had a group that learned their focus words this early in the year.”

North Carolina AΔK President Becky Meyst observed another important feature—the kids have lots of fun using it. “The tunes are happy and fun to listen to. The children enjoy a fun way to learn.”

Another teacher points out the next logical step. “They are making that connection in singing the song and how to spell it when they write sentences in their writer’s workshop writing.”

By the way, maybe you would like to make that connection. Just close your eyes a moment, clear your throat, and sing out the word “here,” to the melody of He’s a Jolly Good Fellow: “h-e-r-e spells here, h-e-r-e spells here, h-e-r-e spells here, h-e-r-e spells here.” Did you get it?

My friend Michelle never got to use the CD in her class. But proceeds from it are helping keep her memory and educational dreams alive. North Carolina Beta Alpha established The Michelle Keen Scholarship Fund for teachers and future educators. The first scholarship winners were teacher assistants pursuing their education degrees. In addition, proceeds from the CD have helped fund mission projects, through Hands of Hope Ministries, and charities such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. These types of projects were also near and dear to Michelle’s heart.

God in His wisdom turned my grief into a way to help others. Through this CD, not only are students learning in a fun way, dreams are being funded through CD sales! Our mission was born: Developing Minds, Funding Dreams. Isn’t God awesome? All things work together for good! His purposes are being revealed more and more every day.


Kathy Goforth is a National Board Certified Teacher at Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School in Havelock, NC

The students, staff, and administration of the school have dedicated a memorial site to Michelle Keen on the school grounds.

To learn why the CD works, to see and hear songs or for more information, or to order, visit or find Jolly Good Spellers on Facebook.



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