Mattie has been an educator and writer for most all of her life. Martha (Mattie) Miller Decker Ed.D., grew up in the beautiful port city of Savannah, Georgia. She graduated from Druid Hills High School in Atlanta, and graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. Ed. in Special Education. At seventeen she accompanied several of her high school teachers and colleagues on a tour of Europe where she fell in love with a continent. During the summer of her junior year in college, she lived on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, as part of Genesis I, a project in human ecology, the first group of college students who worked to save the island from being developed. She began teaching in Appalachia, in the northeast Georgia mountains.
She completed a Master’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts after many years teaching in Georgia, Colorado, and Texas. It was when she had opportunity to attend Northeastern University’s Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute on Writing and Teaching that she changed her mind about graduate school. She had always said if she ever found a program that was meaningful to her she would consider it. On the Vineyard, where classes were held each summer, she found her voice among some of the best teachers and writers anywhere, including Glenda Bissex, Joe Trimmer, Stephen Dunne and Lil Brannon. There she was encouraged to pursue the doctorate degree and later received the Ed.D. at the University of Memphis in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. She received a full time graduate assistantship with the R.I.S.E. Project, (Restructuring for Inclusive School Environments) taught classes and consulted in schools in western Tennessee providing technical assistance and developing literacy programs in middle schools to help students with reading delays.
Dr. Thomas J. Buggey directed her doctoral dissertation, The Effects of Video-based Self-Modeling and Video-based Peer Modeling on Reading Fluency in Elementary-aged Students with Reading Delays, and he became her mentor in single subject research design.
After this, she moved to Kentucky where she lived in the Daniel Boone National forest and taught in the College of Education at Morehead State University as Associate Professor of Education. She continued research in the area of literacy and inclusive practices and studied at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education with Dr. David Rose. With his mentorship she developed the first graduate course at MSU in Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
After recognizing an increasing critical need in students for assistance with stress related problems, she studied Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and began teaching mindfulness at the university’s new wellness and recreation center to students, staff and faculty. She taught abroad with the Kentucky Institute of International Studies (KIIS), in Paris, France, and later went on sabbatical in Finland. She has returned to Finland for part of every year since, to continue to learn and explore how we may discover ways to bring trust and less stress here in our own education. Her lifelong love of nature has recently led her to complete the Nature and Forest Therapy Guide (NAFT) training in Norway where the “forest is the therapist, and the guide opens the door.” She now lives in western North Carolina where she is beginning a new adventure in being a nature and forest therapy guide, writer, and working with Conserving Carolina and the Teaching and Research Reserve (TARR).