As Maria tells her first-grade students, she went to school for a llloonnnngggg time to learn as much as she could about teaching young children. As a result, she earned three degrees from Northern Illinois University including a doctorate in elementary education. All the while, she was busy teaching first grade. In fact, she has taught first grade since 1986 and currently teaches in Indian Prairie District 204. Committed to staying in the classroom, she earned National Board Certification and has served on numerous curriculum committees with other dedicated 204 teachers to improve literacy instruction in her school district.
Along with teaching young learners, Maria inspires other professionals by sharing her latest thinking through customized professional development experiences. The ideas she shares are rooted in her continued commitment to teaching, researching, reading, reflecting, writing, and collaborating with her colleagues.
Maria was honored in Illinois as Reading Educator of the Year and earned the ICARE for Reading Award for fostering the love of reading in children. In addition, she received both the Outstanding Research Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Northern Illinois University. Her greatest honor is that she has the enormous responsibility of giving her first graders the gift of literacy every day.
Maria lives in Aurora, IL with her husband, Lenny, and their daughter Katie. When she’s not busy working, she enjoys traveling with her family, swimming, biking, and running with her friends, and browsing the shelves of Anderson’s Bookshop for new picture books to read to her students!