I was born on April 23, 1990 and raised in Western Massachusetts, where I currently reside with my family. I graduated from West Springfield High School in 2008 and I pursued my dreams of becoming a teacher. I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 2012 from Westfield State University, where I also earned my Master's Degree in Reading. I am in my tenth year of teaching at an elementary school in my hometown, where I am able to share my passion for learning with my students and colleagues. I am a member at the Eric Carle Museum and I frequently attend book signings there! I've had the most fun meeting Eric Carle, Mo Willems, and Tomie dePaola. I was the recipient of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award in May 2015, the American Graduate Champion Award in April 2016, and Business West's 40 under 40 class of 2017.
Besides teaching, I am passionate about traveling. Growing up, my parents always planned vacations abroad. I didn’t know it then, but these trips sparked my enthusiasm and curiosity for learning about the world and the places, people, and cultures it’s comprised of. Once I began teaching, the diversity of students at my school inspired me to travel more frequently. I began planning trips to their native lands and I have not looked back since. My family has always supported and encouraged my frequent traveling and my goal of exploring all seven continents. To date, I have visited five continents and over forty countries.
Where am I off to next internationally? Time will tell! My father recently had a heart attack, which has led me to pause on my international travels so I can be close to home. There is nothing more important than family, and I feel extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to spend more time with my father, so I want to make sure I am making the most of every moment we have together. I do look forward to creating memories state-side for now though!
If I am not teaching or traveling domestically, you will find me volunteering in my free time. I am a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters and a volunteer committee member at the Ronald McDonald House. I serve on a volunteer board for a drug and alcohol prevention, education, and treatment program in my community. I also volunteer on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, Walk to End Alzheimer's, Rays of Hope, Safe Passage (the Hampshire County organization addressing domestic violence), Special Olympics of Massachusetts, Autism Speaks, and the Down Syndrome Resource Group of Western Massachusetts. Furthermore, I am an active member at my church, St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, where I volunteer as well. I enjoy giving back to my community and helping those around me any chance I get.
I feel grateful for the opportunity to share my life and my stories with learners around the world. I look forward to meeting each of you and getting to know you personally at future book signings.
Did you know?
When I was younger, I was identified as a struggling reader. I was referred to reading specialists and even received additional services. I also had a tutor outside of school who helped me build on what I was learning in my classroom. Reading was a burden to me and it was something I simply disliked. Reading was hard and reading meant frustration. I had low confidence and I didn’t like to spend any time reading books—even into adulthood.
But that all changed when I became a teacher, someone who teaches children to love learning. To me, this meant I also had to not only teach children to love reading, but I had to teach myself. This was my motivation for pursuing a Master’s Degree in Reading, so I could teach children how to read and how to love the process—but I wanted to do this to the best of my ability. I feel that through my Master’s program I have learned to love reading because I am reading books that not only interest me, but books that are shaping me into a better person and teacher.
My experiences as a struggling and unmotivated reader have inspired me to write books that are interesting and based on current events, something relevant to us all. My books are meant to teach children not only about the world around them, but the people and cultures it's comprised of—in hopes of inspiring each reader to be more accepting of those around them. Each book is written with a powerful and positive message that encourages the reader to be more compassionate and empathetic than they were before they opened the book. Are you up for the challenge?
Please know that we can all make a difference and sometimes it starts with just one. What are you waiting for?