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Mariana Merritt

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."

-Margaret Mead

Specialty Areas:  Trauma-Informed Family Engagement • Cultural Humility • Positive workplace culture and relationships • Educator Collective-Care and Self-Care • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging • Personal Growth and Life Skills Development

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I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.

(615) 972-7205

My Story

The work of trauma-informed family engagement is personal for me. I entered American schools in Chicago as a refugee in kindergarten and had somewhere around 15 school transitions before graduation. Along with lacking the skills to navigate American society and systems successfully, my family struggled with challenges related to poverty, housing insecurity, and community violence. Seeking to understand myself and my experiences better, I earned a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work. It has been my privilege for the last 15 years to journey alongside diverse families and educators, offering strategies, frameworks, and insights on how we can better support children and families. In 2018, I was honored as a finalist for the Nashville Emerging Leader Award in the field of education. It was then that I solidified my personal and professional convictions that we must celebrate those who beat incredible odds and hold ourselves accountable to creating systems that don’t impose those same odds on the next generation. Part of creating new systems for me is providing high-quality training to educators on how to build relationships with students and families in ways that decrease adverse childhood experiences, heal trauma, and build resilience. It has been my professional joy to partner with educators around the nation, strategizing on how we can engage families in ways that restore dignity, strengthen the family unit, and instill hope in difficult circumstances.

Professional Facilitation

  • Partnering with Immigrant and Bicultural Families, Music City Social Emotional Conference, Nashville, TN, 2021

  • Closed doors, open hearts, Nontraditional Family Engagement strategies during the Covid-19 pandemic, Partners in Education Conference, Nashville, TN 2021

  • Being Bridge Builders, National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, 2020

  • When Logic Models Work, Schools Build Community with Intentionality, Institute for Leadership, Reno, Nevada, 2019

  • Honoring the Unknown: Using Cultural Humility as a Framework to Build Connection Across Diverse Backgrounds English Language Learner Advocacy Summit, Nashville, TN 2019

  • Helping the helpers: Strategies to support practitioners working with families. Trauma Informed Educators Network Conference, June 2019 

  • Reflections and Lessons Learned in Implementation of High Quality Pre-K through the Preschool Development Grant- Expansion (PDG-E). Tennessee Department of Education Early Childhood Summit, Nashville, TN, July 2018

  • Family Engagement: Shifting Our Efforts from Exhausting Events to Building Academic Partnerships. Tennessee Department of Education, Murfreesboro, TN, June 2018

  • Cultural Humility as a Framework for Connecting with Diverse Populations in Honoring Ways. Tennessee Association of School Social Workers. Nashville, TN Fall 2017

  • Effective Family Engagement. Social Emotional Learning Conference, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN, June 2017

  • Foundations for Family Engagement. Metro Nashville Public Schools Family Engagement Summit, Nashville, TN, January 2017

  • Cultural Humility as the Foundation for Family Engagement. Metro Nashville Public Schools Family Engagement Summit, Nashville, TN, January 2017

  • Making Magic, Facilitating Adult-Learning in Family Engagement Practices & Cohort-Based Teacher Professional Development. Family Engagement Conference, Tennessee Department of Education, Murfreesboro, TN, June 2016

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