Alumni Profile: Maresa Neilson ’13

Maresa Neilson Headshot

First Grade Teacher, Vernon Elementary School

“I disagree with a lot of the ways we uniformly test kids, because I think it perpetuates an unfair societal hierarchy. I’d like to work to improve the way we assess our children,” says Maresa Nielson. A first grade teacher at Vernon Elementary School in Vermont, Maresa strives to create a learning environment in which students and teachers can confront and question the injustices that pervade society. She still attends weekend seminars at Marlboro when she can, along with other former students. “It’s really helpful for me to engage in conversations with other social justice educators who are committed to teaching the non-dominant narrative.”

That community of educators has been a steady source of support for Maresa during her first year at Vernon Elementary—especially when it comes to finding appropriate books and films to support her lesson plans. One Marlboro colleague’s suggestion to show a 30-minute YouTube clip of Horton Hears a Who, for example, led to a class discussion about rights of humans, as summed up by the title character’s recurring line, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” “The program has given me a fantastic network,” says Maresa. “I feel very connected, and it makes me a better teacher.”