Marisa Maines, third-grade teacher, Bellefonte Elementary School
Teaching is tough. Marisa Maines will be the first to tell you that.
But at the end of each school year, the third-grade teacher from Bellefonte Elementary School goes back to saved emails from the parents of former students who thank her for positively affecting their child. And that, she said, is the most important part of being a teacher.
“It’s tough, but rewarding, and every spring it comes to a head where everything is so hard, there is so much pressure and the kids are so wound-up, and I kind of think, ‘why am I doing this? Am I even making a difference?’ But every year I’ve taught, I had a parent reach out to tell me how much of an impact I had on their kid,” she said. “Even knowing I can make a difference in one kid in one year is something special, so if I don’t do anything else right, it’s nice to know that I can do that.”
Maines’ passion for teaching came in college when she switched majors to elementary education – something she said was more practical than “undecided,” “psychology” and “English.” Born in Bucks County near Philadelphia, Maines moved when she was 13 years old to Houston after her dad’s job forced her family to relocate to Texas. She attended high school in Houston and college at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
It was by happenstance that she met her now-husband who was working at Rice University in Houston, but was born and raised in State College. She said they connected while in Texas through their love of Phillies baseball and Penn State football. Wanting to head back to Pennsylvania was her inspiration to apply for a teaching position at Bellefonte Elementary School where she started in 2016.
“I really like third grade, because the kids are cute and sweet and haven’t yet developed an attitude, but they’re independent enough that I can communicate with them like I would with an older student,” she said.
Maines also taught second-grade for two years at a school in Texas before coming to Bellefonte.
When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Maines on the sidelines helping coach the Bellefonte Area Middle School girls’ soccer team with head coach and teacher Erin Cernuska. She also has a new Boston terrier puppy named Barkley and attends all home Penn State football games in the fall.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD