At Binghamton University, Mary Shaw studied the development of formal education around the world. Still fascinated about how education is understood within a culture, she joined Teach for America in 1992 and began teaching Spanish, K-5 in rural North Carolina. After leaving North Carolina, she was motivated to learn more. At Bank Street College, Mary was introduced to progressive education, a way of seeing and teaching the whole child through hands-on interactive exploration and social learning. Throughout her years of teaching she discovered children learn best when immersed in meaningful activities and discussion.
In each setting, Mary Shaw developed classroom community through rich immersion in literacy. Reading and writing are necessary tools for life. A love for reading is a gift a child discovers and shares with everyone who will listen. For some children it is a challenge to make sense of words on a page. In 2012, she received her Master’s in Special Education at Hunter College to better understand the learning challenges that some children have in literacy and math learning. Mary strongly believes that her job is to stimulate children’s minds. She invites children to learn about the world around them through inquiry, research and problem solving by using their developing literacy and math skills.
As a general education and special education teacher for 13 years, Mary Shaw collaborated with co-teachers to develop accommodations for all students across the content areas. She developed teaching strategies for ENL (English as a New Language) students while immersing them in the larger curriculum. Mary taught phonics and reading programs such as Wilson Fundations, Words Their Way, and Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop. She used a constructivist philosophy to build math programs. Mary invited children to learn about the world around them through inquiry, research and problem solving. They studied the life cycle of the plant and its importance in the world. The children investigated the question- what would happen if there were no plants? They then embarked on a yearlong study from farmers markets to cooking, seeds, bulbs, pollination and the life cycle of butterflies. As a pre-k teacher for three years, Mary supported hands-on, student-directed, experiential learning to encourage children to explore the world around them. She differentiated instruction to meet the needs of English language learners.
Mary Shaw also taught at the Northside Center for Child Development in Manhattan, where she implemented one-on-one, interactive reading instruction for first through fourth grade students with severe learning disabilities.
During the summers of 2000-2006 Mary was a graduate assistant at The Tiorati Environmental Workshop. She assisted the professor in teaching summer graduate courses in environmental studies (Bank Street College) and learned to apply inquiry-based learning to classroom settings.
In 2012, Mary was the recipient of the Merle E. Frampton Certificate for Excellence and Outstanding Performance in Special Education Teaching and Community Service from Hunter College.