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Maria always knew that she wanted to become a teacher. "Both of my parents were teachers and it is something I worked toward my entire life. As a child I would play school with my younger brother. This led to teaching swimming lessons and volunteering in schools as a teenager, and then ultimately to attending Nova Scotia Teachers College to become an elementary school teacher."
Maria later transitioned to teaching middle-level grades, thanks to "a wise principal" she once had. "She saw in me the potential to work with adolescents. When faced with a choice between kindergarten class or a grade 7 class, I was leaning toward kindergarten. She counseled me to try seventh grade, and I have enjoyed working with middle level students and teachers ever since."
Different groups need different professional development experiences, Maria says, so in PD sessions she always tries to be hands-on and practical, and to provide teachers with an experience they can take away and try in their classrooms.
When writing a book, Maria maintains that the best approach is to "sit down and go at it. "I write down everything I can think of, then try to add more. Then there is the revision, adding even more things, and removing others. I look for gaps and try to fill these in. I think about what teachers need in order to be able to walk away and try ideas."
Maria is married with a two-year-old daughter and two teenage stepchildren. She likes to travel, play soccer, garden, and spend time with her family and friends.