Marilyn often says, “I became a teacher on 9/11.” Having worked as New York City for reporter for People, Time, New York Newsday, and The Journal-News, she felt called to leave journalism and follow her secret passion — teaching children — on the infamous day terrorists brought down the World Trade Center. She had flown over the Twin Towers exactly 24 hours before the attack, admiring the buildings as they glistened in the sun. She learned then that life was sacred and short.
Within six months, Marilyn had returned to her native Chicago, and enrolled in a graduate program for education, and began her journey as a public school teacher. In 2011, after nearly ten years of teaching 3rd through 8th grade, Marilyn started writing again. She authored the “Charting My Own Course” blog for Education Week, and she was named 2013 Commentator/Blogger of the Year by the Bammy Awards. She went on to pen more than 300 education op-eds and blogs published in The New York Times, Education Week, Huffington Post, Education Post, RealClearEducation, and Black Enterprise, among others.
In 2011, Marilyn also founded the nonprofit organization Teachers Who Pray (TWP), which equips and supports educators to ground their work in faith, prayer and spiritual practices so that they bring their best selves into the classrooms and maximize their service on students and families. TWP has more than 140 school-based chapters across the country and in Haiti and Africa. She is a leading voice in education policy, acknowledging the spiritual dimension of teaching and championing legal faith-based options to the menu of social and emotional learning supports that are offered to students and teachers in public schools.
She has served as a conference speaker and thought partner at numerous universities, including Harvard and Yale. Marilyn has delivered two TEDx talks –“Finding the Courage to Voice the Taboo” and “Why Faith Will Fix Education.” She has served as a education commentator on Moody Radio Chicago, and has edited math curriculum, children’s books, and the TWP teacher prayer guide. A nonpartisan bridge builder, Marilyn’s voice has advised two U.S. Secretaries of Education in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
In May 2019, Marilyn published her first book, The Master Teacher: 12 Spiritual Lessons That Can Transform Schools and Revolutionize Public Education. The book has received praised from Christianity Today, the Christian Educators Association International, the Association of Christian Schools International, among many other religious and secular education organizations. In fact, Marilyn’s book will be used in a course on faith and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2020.
Marilyn holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Dominican University, a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a master’s degree in teaching from National Louis University. She plans to start a Ph.D program in education policy at the University of Arkansas in the summer of 2020.
When she’s not working, Marilyn sings in a gospel band, trains for marathons, and loves on her three amazing children.