School Improvement Coach, Professional Learning
Maria believes all students deserve a well-rounded, high-quality education that will prepare them for their futures, and that school leaders must create a culture where students and teachers are passionate about learning. She is focused on building an asset-based mindset where diversity is recognized as a means to creating a positive and engaged school culture and a stimulating learning environment for all.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
—John F. Kennedy
Maria currently serves as the director of consulting services for High Performing School Services Inc. in Michigan, which she founded in 2013. In this role, she develops and delivers professional learning and coaching services on a variety of topics including performance management, effective leadership, collaborative teams, rigorous instruction, ongoing/ embedded professional learning, and purposeful family and community involvement. Maria served in the Detroit area as a superintendent for five years, as well as a curriculum director, chief administrative officer, chief academic officer, and building leader. She spent three years in the Flint, Michigan, area as curriculum director and assistant director. She has also served as a data coach for the statewide system of support and a subject matter expert for data and school improvement initiatives. These roles were preceded by her classroom experiences spanning about 15 years in Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Texas, her home state.
Having worked to support urban and suburban schools in collaboration with school boards, leaders, staff, and communities for over 25 years, Maria’s expertise lies in collaborating with and coaching school leaders to clarify their vision for their school community by setting measurable goals and implementing unique, targeted solutions that are responsive to the school’s current reality. A few areas aligned with the 5Essentials® where Maria has coached and supported pre-K–12 schools and leaders are:
- Establishment of coordinated curriculum, instruction, and assessment systems designed to remove schools from state-assigned “priority status” based on low achievement data (Ambitious Instruction)
- Implementation of sustainable, job-embedded coaching models to support teacher retention in urban schools; integrated learning communities with embedded coaching and student support (MTSS) teams (Effective Leaders)
- Implementation of models of shared leadership and collaboration (PLCs) with vertical and horizontal articulation (Collaborative Teachers)
- Establishment of aligned, asset-based instructional systems for ELL programs (Supportive Environment)
- Implementation of community-wide learning opportunities in support of the establishment of school culture focused on students’ social, emotional, and academic success (Involved Families)
Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a minor in English and an MEd in curriculum and instruction from Ferris State University, where she wrote and defended her thesis on professional learning communities, and she earned an education specialist degree (EdS) in K–12 leadership from Oakland University. Maria has further developed her leadership skills with the Greater Flint Educational Consortium Leadership Academy, the University of Michigan Ross Leadership Development Program, and the Center for Educational Leadership’s Action Plan for Coaching.