Margie was five when she taught her first student, three-year-old sister Ammy, how to read in their basement schoolroom. “My mother always said I was a born teacher. Reading is my passion.”
As a sociology/elementary ed undergrad at Connecticut College, Margie set up a volunteer tutoring program and gained one-on-one teaching practice. At the University of Connecticut, she discovered her first true mentor, Isabelle Liberman, a Haskins Laboratories researcher who directed the Special Education Masters program. Margie learned how to make reading research work in classrooms during the practicum that followed. “The best way to learn how to teach reading is to help students who are really struggling.”
New doors opened with each of seven family moves, as Margie helped struggling students—including her daughter—in elementary and middle school resource rooms and in her private practice. One move facilitated Alphabetic Phonics study with Aylett Cox, while another enabled her to complete Academic Language Therapist training with Judy Birsh at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Margie found her true calling—teacher training—while consulting with a private school for dyslexic children. She received an Ed.D. in Special Education from the University of Louisville, and taught as an adjunct. Yet she wanted to be more connected with schools. “I just stumbled upon a new initiative at Haskins and my next mentor, Anne Fowler.” Margie joined the Early Reading Success Initiative project as a reading fellow in 2000. As Dr. Fowler’s health declined, she hand-picked Margie to succeed her as the Project Director. Soon after she and colleague Susan Brady were awarded a Teacher Quality Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences for Mastering Reading Instruction, a professional development project that studied first grade reading. Margie then led the well-trained mentor team to continue their work as Haskins Literacy Initiative.
As a teacher and a researcher, Margie’s goal is the same—how best to teach teachers to implement research-based practices in the classroom. “I get more excited about reading a professional journal than any other magazine. I wonder what the findings will look like when I take it into the classroom.” As president of Literacy How and as a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, Margie will create new opportunities as she pursues her passionate purpose, empowering teaching excellence.