Trilingual in Polish, English, and Spanish, Maria is a former NV and IL educator and professional developer who has taught Kindergarten through 8th grade, as a bilingual/ ESL/ and general education teacher. In addition to her varied and extensive teaching and instructional coaching background of 20+ years, Maria is nationally board certified in English as a New Language Ages 3-12. Currently, Maria is a PhD student at Walden University specializing in Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability. Just prior to working for CAL, Maria was a PreK-12 project facilitator in the English Language Learner Division in Clark County School District, the 5th largest school district in the United States.
Maria has Senatorial and Congressional Recognition and Commendations for facilitating Family Leadership Institutes in Nevada, has been a Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Virtual judge for the largest K-12 STEM competition in the world, and co-founded the largest school garden in Las Vegas. Maria was honored as a Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Awardee, a Distinguished Educator in Nevada, and the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practices Honor Roll Awardee (The New Teacher Project).
Her accomplishments include developing the Nevada ELD Standards Instructional Framework and Guidance documents for Science K-5 and Social Studies K-12. The Framework provides general Language Use Expectations that English learners can do with instructional supports at different proficiency levels. On the international front, Maria had the opportunity to work with the USAID Learning: Transition to English project to help create strong language and literacy development for Grades B1, B2, and B3 in Ghana. Maria is very excited to be working with teachers, parents, and stakeholders to meet the needs of multilingual learners of all ages all over the world.
CAL Provides Leadership and Support for $10 Million Grant to Break Down Barriers for Middle and High School English Learners
CAL staff and partners, including Trey Calvin, Maria Cieslak, Dr. Joel Gómez, and Dr. Diane August, have published actionable recommendations for states and districts educating English learners during the on-going pandemic as a part of their work on a new IES-funded research center.
"I was teaching abroad to non-native English learners. As with so many other teacher, when the pandemic struck it threw my life into chaos. It is one thing to end the school year online, but it's another to START building relationships from scratch through a screen! I was dreading trying to figure out how I would connect with students virtually, let alone teach. Let me just say, the Professional Development Team at the Center for Applied Linguistics did not take the easy route and gloss over these issues: the whole world is going virtual, and CAL is leaning in."