Mary Cowhey


Mary Cowhey has taught first and second grade at Jackson St. School in Northampton, MA since 1997 and is the author of Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades (Stenhouse, 2006), winner of the 2008 National Association for Multicultural Education Philip C. Chinn Multicultural Book Award and the 2007 Skipping Stones magazine Multicultural Book Award. She is currently a Title 1 math teacher and math coach at Jackson St. School. She was a community organizer for fourteen years before becoming a teacher. In 2007, Mary Cowhey, Eneida Garcia, Maria Aguilar and Kim Gerould co-founded of Familias con Poder/​ Families With Power, a grass roots organizing effort among low-income families of color, using a popular education approach. Families With Power aims to cultivate grass roots leadership among parents, guardians and youth and to help children succeed.

Mary Cowhey has received numerous awards for her teaching and activism, including the Milken National Educator Award, the Anti-Defamation League World of Difference Award, a National League of Women Voters Award, the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Alumni Award, MA AgriScience Excellence Award, and the MA Public Health Association Frontline Award. Her essays and articles on education have been published in What Keeps Teachers Going, Why We Teach, Dear Paulo: Letters From Those Who Dare Teach, Teaching With Fire, Multicultural Tools and Strategies for Teaching Young Children, Teaching Tolerance, Rethinking Schools, Instructor, Connect and public radio. Her creative non-fiction and prose poetry have been published in The Sun and Families, Systems and Health. Mary Cowhey lives with her husband, Bill Blatner, two children, cats and chickens in Northampton, MA.

Selected Works

"One hell of a read."
–Linda Christensen, author of
Reading, Writing and Rising Up
Families With Power
Families With Power’s goals are grassroots parent empowerment and increasing student achievement.
Integrated Curriculum, Authentic Learning, Child-Generated Investigations
A student's question, "Where do you look for the union label?" sparked an investigation into where our clothing is made, integrating a mathematical data investigation, geography, economics and social justice."
Community Service Learning
First graders learn about compassion, action and change in response to hunger and homelessness int heir community.
Inquiry-Based Science and Standardized Testing
I teach child-oriented inquiry-based science based on the standards not specifically to raise test scores but to raise creative problem solvers, empathetic doctors and ethical researchers.
Family Diversity
Second graders talk about same-sex marriage and family diversity.

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