Maura majored in English at Oberlin College with a minor in Hispanic Studies. While earning her degree, she did one-on-one Spanish tutoring with middle- and high-school students, which led her, following graduation, to teaching Spanish at a high-needs high school for three years. She taught 9th, 10th and 11th grade and gained experience working with students with ADHD, reading and writing disabilities, and autism. In her fourth year, she switched to teaching English. She worked on test prep as part of her curriculum, and also organized and created an SAT verbal after-school preparation program. While teaching, she earned her Masters of Education with High Honors from Pace University. She now teaches English at a public high school for gifted and talent students--the one she herself attended. She considers herself lucky to work with the very teachers who originally inspired her to get into the field of education, especially her 12th-grade English teacher, "who informed much of my teaching philosophy"--and who is now her boss! "I was inspired by the passion that my teachers brought to the classroom every day, and I cannot imagine a better job for me than talking about literature with students all day." Maura loves working with teenagers, and says they are "dynamic, funny, and fascinating!" In every class, Maura ensures students practice the four basics of an English classroom: reading, writing, listening and speaking. "My goal is for my students to be in charge of their own learning," she says. "I believe that it is more meaningful for students to develop their own ideas about the texts we read in class than for me to feed them the 'right answer' about what we're learning." Maura has been awarded multiple grants to improve her practice. In the summer of 2012, she spent five weeks in London studying Chaucer's Canterbury Tales with 15 other high-school English teachers as a National Endowment for the Humanities grant recipient. This summer she will be writing fiction with other high-school teachers under the direction of novelist and National Book Award Finalist Tea Obreht as a Cullman Center for Teachers grant recipient. This intensive one-week writing workshop is being offered through the New York Public Library. In high school, Maura participated in track, theater (backstage tech work/set building and acting), swim team, lifeguarding, and swim instruction. In college, she taught Spanish to local elementary-school students, wrote for the college magazine, and played water polo. Maura now loves riding her bike around her city --she also rides to work every day! She enjoys taking her dog, Pete, to the dog park, and in the summer, she loves to get out of the city and spend time in nature, "hiking and camping and jumping in lakes." One of her favorite hobbies is cooking for family and friends, and her cooking is so popular she was put in charge of menus and preparation at all big family get-togethers. She also loves to travel and tries to take one big trip a year. This year she visited her cousin, who was studying abroad in Paris.