There is an old adage that success breeds success. This is especially evident at The Goddard School of Auburn. Goddard teacher Maria Ravelli has been awarded National Teacher of the Year honors for 2014 by Goddard Systems. Ravelli is following familiar footsteps; she is Goddard’s tenth Teacher of the Year recipient.
Ravelli joined the Goddard staff in August 2012 after moving to Worcester with her husband. “Matt and Sheri [Flandreau, Goddard School owners] took a chance on me” says Ravelli. “They gave me a classroom provided support and training. It’s just a great environment. It’s like a family here.”
She teaches in the “Purple Cows”, a pre-school age classroom with children between 3 and 4 years old. Her impact at Goddard School was almost immediate. Originally from Miami, and fluent in Spanish, Ravelli was instrumental in starting a Spanish immersion program in her classroom. The students spend a good portion of the day speaking, learning and playing only in Spanish. The program has been so well received, the school is expanding the program to other classrooms. According to Ravelli, “We are hoping to offer it to students from age 2 and up.”
Last November, Ravelli spearheaded a Family Fiesta event. The party had a Latin American theme featuring traditional food, music and games. Ravelli connected with the College of the Holy Cross Latin American Student Organization (LASO) to come help with the event.
The result of these efforts – as well as her teaching, of course – was a nomination for Teacher of the Year. Every year, each of the 400 Goddard School franchises is asked to nominate a teacher for the award. Goddard Systems International then awards four National Teacher of the Year awards, one in each of four regions in the U.S. There are over 6,000 teachers in the Goddard system.
Ravelli is currently a student at Quinsigamond Community College pursuing a degree in early childhood education, her passion. “I love teaching this age group” Ravelli says. “I love the curiosity and that look of amazement as they start to connect the dots about how things work.”
Ravelli hopes to continue bringing cultural diversity to her classroom and to the entire Goddard School. “We have so many cultures that come through Goddard” she says.
There are more cultural experiences in store for Goddard School students, as well. Ravelli plans to set up a pen pal program with a school in Columbia. She is also currently planning a Chinese Day of Children event for this coming June. Says Ravelli, “We try to have diversity everywhere: diverse snacks, diverse posters showing people of different cultures, and diverse events for families. We want this [Goddard School] to feel like a second home for the children.”