Written by Mallory Morris, Education Media Intern.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! During this special week, we’re thrilled to highlight one of the many amazing local educators we’ve met through our EdExchange program, Maria Alverdi.
Tell us about yourself! Tell us about your background, education and interests.
I am a 3rd grade bilingual teacher, this is my 10-year anniversary in the classroom and I still love it. I am a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) graduate from NYU, I have a Master’s Degree in Marketing and for 5 years I was the National Marketing Director for the Hispanic and LBGT Markets for a communications company in NYC. I moved to Austin about 13 years ago, I do yoga, paint and my new thing is to hike and camp.
What inspired you to become an educator?
I am a bilingual teacher. This is my second profession and I can honestly say that I absolutely love what I do. I worked in the corporate world for 15 years in NYC before and I changed a corporate life for a classroom, but not my expectations. My staff delivered excellence and now my scholars work hard on doing the same, no excuses. Setting the bar high from the beginning sets the tone for the school year. Everyone needs help on their way to the top. Eventually everyone gets there at their own time, and I cheer on and inspire my scholars to create their inner-strength. We build a community of learners that inspires creativity and honors our humanity. I know that my scholars do not come in a neatly wrapped package ready to learn, because I did not.
How did you hear about Thinkery’s EdExchange program? Why did you want to be part of this program?
My colleague participated the previous year and it looked like so much fun I need to try it, too.
How has your EdExchange experience shaped the work you do in your classroom?
It has incorporated technology and creativity into the two study units that I do during the year, a body unit for science and a geography and culture for social studies.
What changes have you noticed in your students since you began the EdExchange program in your classroom?
My scholars knew that I was going to training during the 9 weeks in the fall/winter semester, and I would share the new thing that I worked on or learned the night before. Together, we planned how this would work for what we were working on at the time. Also, once the Thinkery staff (Jesse) would come over that kids would love to share and participate in the activities that he facilitated in the classroom.
What has your experience with Thinkery’s educators been like?
It has been a very positive and enriching experience for my scholars and me.
Is there anything you hope to implement in the future?
Just about everything that I learned during the EdExchange professional development workshops has been and will be used in my future lesson planning and execution in one capacity or another. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle!
Describe one of your favorite moments in the classroom during your EdExchange experience.
There is not one specific moment, but an overall experience. As the program progressed and my planning became more deliberate and focused on the study unit, my scholars became very focused and meticulous with their work. The ownership and responsibility grew with every visit from the Thinkery facilitator (Jesse); they learned how to use technology (Ozobots) as a tool to deliver their ideas and content and no longer as toys. That does not mean that we played or had fun with the,m but they had a purpose in their work and it wasn’t just a novelty.
What advice do you have for educators interested in Thinkery’s EdExchange program?
It is worth their time, to be open to innovate and revamp their teaching and to meet like-minded teachers who also want to make teaching fun.
Interested in Thinkery’s EdExchange program? Mark your calendars—applications for the 2018-19 school year open May 17!