Written by Jackie Mintz
Don Killgallon turned an innate appreciation for sentences and their structure into a widely used method for teaching composition. In this method, students are taught to see how sentences written by recognized authors are built, and they then learn to compose sentences modeled on them.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Don was raised in Texarkana, TX, a town that straddles Texas and Arkansas, with all the predictable consequences of the Texas side being dry and the Arkansas side not.
Don obtained his bachelor's degree from Kings College in Wilkes Barre. He went on to acquire three masters' degrees: one from the University of Maryland, and two from Johns Hopkins University. He taught English in the Baltimore County Public School system and then, on assignment from the county, became a specialist in middle schools for the Maryland Department of Education.
Along the way, he wrote a textbook on teaching composition by imitating sentences by accomplished writers. It caught the attention of the chair of the English Division, who recommended that it be adopted by English departments across the county. In 1990, Don retired from the public schools to concentrate on writing textbooks. He has written 18 books in all, most co-written with his wife, Jenny, including two at the college level.
After his retirement, Don continued to teach writing at Loyola, the University of Maryland, Towson University, and Johns Hopkins University. He and Jenny are currently teaching a class on writing in the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Program.
Don's hobbies include playing on an electronic keyboard, listening to music, and reading.
Jenny Killgallon is, in her own words, a country girl who began life in the country and wanted to end it in the country. But there was lots more in-between.
Raised in Glen Arm, Jenny went to Dulaney High School and Towson University. She was a teacher of English in the Baltimore County Public School system and also a writing specialist at the Maryland Department of Education. After retiring from the public schools, she taught part-time at Maryvale Preparatory School.
In her classes, Jenny taught students to write poetry by modeling their poems on published authors. Student ingenuity delighted her. One of her favorite stories comes from a class in which she used as a model Langston Hughes' poem "What happens to a dream deferred?" Her student wrote, "What happened to the other sock?"
When Jenny retired, she began working with her husband, Don, on a textbook series on teaching writing using the sentences of professional writers. A new textbook is in the offing.
Jenny has been familiar with Broadmead for over 20 years, ever since her aunt, resident Louise "Weezie" Davis, moved here. She is also a cousin of Carol Harvey, front desk staffer. Jenny and Don moved here from Lutherville, where they lived for 40 years.
Jenny volunteers with Reading Partners and tutors English as a Second Language for Asylee Women Enterprise, an organization that works with women seeking asylum. Her other interests are writing, reading, and theater.