By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star Photographer JIM BARCUS | The Kansas City Star“American Cursive Handwriting” (LDG Publishing, $35) by Michael Sull, Handwriting instruction is on the verge of a renaissance. Michael Sull of Gardner is a master penman in Spencerian script; past president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting; and author of four books on handwriting. His latest work, “American Cursive Handwriting,” was released this month. Sull spent seven years designing the book to be a self-study curriculum guide and workbook for adults and children, especially homeschool families. “It was really important to me to write a really thorough handwriting manual, a stand-alone book that parents could use with their children,” Sull said. Homeschool parent Karen Rogers of Gardner taught her daughter the value of good penmanship by writing Bible verses in cursive. “Some kids need to hear it or see it; some need to write it,” said Rogers, who also taught for six years at elementary schools across the country. A recent study by researchers at Indiana University found that strong penmanship skills can lead to increased brain activity. Victoria Chandler, a sixth-grade teacher at Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Gardner, has emphasized the importance of good handwriting since she started teaching more than 30 years ago. “Within the past 20 years, cursive has slowly disappeared,” Chandler said. “I’ve written on the board in cursive and have had kids near to tears because they couldn’t read it.” Computer classes and preparation for state assessments have replaced cursive instruction, she said. Chandler met Sull about two years ago at a post office. She noticed the intricately detailed calligraphy scrolled on the front of his letter, and their mutual appreciation for handwriting grew from there. They teamed up to charter a Pioneer Ridge handwriting club, in which students learn about good penmanship, proper posture, working with different types of paper and the correct way to hold a pen. “He talks to them about the importance of taking the time to slow down and write and how personal somebody’s handwriting can be,” Chandler said. “The kids just love it.” Sull, Chandler and Rogers value a thoughtfully penned letter over a text or email. Sull’s book sets out to rejuvenate and re-personalize communication. “I wanted to bring back the joy of personal expression and using personal letters,” he said. “It is so important.” To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to

Author prods people to get more personal by perfecting penmanship

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