"Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down."
- Ray Bradbury
To my students I'm Ms. O'Meara. My colleagues know me as Mary while close friends call me Mary Kate. To those who know me best I am M.K. Guess I'm a lady with many monikers. My story begins long ago and far away with two parents who were teachers and a younger brother who was known to be a pain. We moved and traveled a lot and had adventures. As a little girl I loved to write and draw. I was always that kid who never seemed to pay attention, lost in a world of drawings and doodles. I would shimmy up the tall pine tree in our front yard and perch in its highest branches, sketching the world from a bird's point of view. It was decided, when I grew up, that I should follow family tradition and become a teacher even though I had wanted to become an artist. I attended the University of Michigan where I decided that teaching would become my art form. I am now a creative ( see definition http://goinswriter.com/what-is-a-creative/ ) journeying through the land of education. The story of my career has had many settings taking me from urban districts such as Flint and Detroit to the rural environs in Colorado and Appalachia. The longest chapter of my tale has been my 30 years in Grosse Pointe. Over many decades of teaching I have created and managed programs from the ground up, taught every grade from pre-school through fifth, and leapt tall buildings in a single bound. And the plot? My quest for world domination, one classroom at a time.
Key areas of experience include multiage education and differentiated programming, digital portfolios, integrating digital technology into the curriculum, culturally responsive teaching and Making Thinking Visible. I have also been known to create a few killer project based learning units. Not only can I corral children for carpet time I can rope a calf. So I'm pretty much willing to give everything a go.
Educational Philosophy or Artist Statement?
Looking past the obvious, close observation and engagement of the subject is my process. The challenge is to see beyond the distraction of the conspicuous to capture the essence of the unique child. Observations, formal and informal assessments drive instruction that develop competencies and a passion for learning. An eclectic use of methods and materials mixed with environmental elements of the classroom make student creativity dance and their achievement sing. My goal is to inspire those who are the art of my classroom as well as those who observe my work to look more carefully within themselves and the world around them to discover possibilities they never dreamed of.
Beyond the Classroom
I have children. Three of them. They're wonderful people. Change the world kind of people. And they're fun. We adventure together. My oldest daughter, Amanda, lives in D.C. with her husband Gilbert. Amanda is the youngest director in the history of The National Women's Law Center. (Yes, that is proud mom tone you're picking up.) Gilbert has completed his doctorate in political science. My secret plan is, when Amanda becomes Commander in Chief, I'm moving to the mother's suite in the White House. Middle child, Patrick and his wife Marie currently live in Ann Arbor. Patrick graduated from The University of Michigan's School of Engineering and he is presently a front end developer for a start up in A2. His wife, Marie, is a User Interface Designer and Developer for The University of Michigan's Office of Innovation. My youngest daughter, Christa, is also a creative. She has a degree in baking and pastry and an event planning certification. That girl creates gallery worthy works made from isomalt. Besides kids I have a Shitzu and a Schnauzer who run the house. Loves other than my children and my pets? Photography, painting, baking and adventure travel (my best trips were a polar bear trek in the Arctic Circle, and scaling Machu Picchu with Amanda . Personal defining moment? Happened thirty something years ago working with Mother Teresa and a few of her sisters in a tiny Appalachian town. The echoes of her commentary return to me daily, "If you look deeply into the eyes of another you see your soul reflected." Professional defining moment? Came 17 years ago as a result of creating a mentorship between my classroom and research scientists tracking Massasauga Rattlesnakes in area Metro parks. Their culminating project was presenting their research on wetlands in Michigan to Dr. Jane Goodall at the Detroit Science Center, and interacting with her after a private screening of her newly released documentary, That day we all became greater in spirit and larger in outlook.