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About M.A. Binford


For those whose lives had been touched by Mary Ann Binford, her sudden death on March 3, 1984 was a great shock. In the days following her death, there was an outpouring of feelings as friends and colleagues remembered their special relationship with Mary Ann and the difference she made in their lives. Mary Ann was a unique person. She went about her work in a gentle, unassuming way with sensitivity to the needs of others. Mary Ann was an outstanding early childhood educator whose support of others reflected her knowledge and strong commitment to the field of early childhood education.


As the Early Childhood Specialist for the Albuquerque Public Schools, Mary Ann was largely responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a nationally recognized Early Childhood Program. In view of her significant contribution to the Albuquerque Public Schools, it was most fitting that the Board of Education named an elementary school in her honor.


Mary Ann Binford was born in Kitzmiller, Maryland, March 11, 1929. She grew up in a small, coal mining community nestled in the Appalachian Mountains where her grandfather was a coal miner. She traced her early interest in education to her mother's profession as a teacher. She often spoke of the influence of her mother in the development of her own personal philosophy of education. This special sharing of their common interest was enhanced when her mother, Caroline Wilson, moved to this area. Mrs. Wilson resides in Corrales and maintains an active interest in education.


Mary Ann attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Her professional training at Antioch included an off campus work study program at Fort Defiance, Arizona where she developed and taught a preschool program for Navajo children. She received her BA degree from Antioch College in 1952.


Her love of the Southwest and interest in its people and cultures was instrumental in her decision to return to the area and settle in Corrales. Mary Ann's professional career in Albuquerque began at Manzano Day School where she taught children ages 4 to 6 for many years. During her early years at Manzano, her sons Grey and Joe Howell were born. At the beginning of HEADSTART, she worked as a teacher in a program in the South Valley. Mary Ann's exceptional skill in working with young children and ability to articulate how children learn led to her selection as the demonstration Kindergarten teacher at Manzanita Center at the University of New Mexico.


In 1969, Mary Ann was asked to direct the first Kindergartens in Albuquerque Public Schools throughout the Model Cities Project. The quality features of the original kindergartens as envisioned and designed by Mary Ann incorporated these unique characteristics: child centered curriculum, home visits, a parent component and on-going inservice for teachers. These exemplary kindergartens served as a model for the development of the state supported kindergartens.


Mary Ann continued her professional training through participating in numerous workshops and conferences completing a Master's Degree in Human Development at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. Mary Ann's marriage to Lewis Binford, a noted anthropologist, added a new dimension to her work and reconfirmed her beliefs about the importance of culture in the child's development.


During her years with Albuquerque Public Schools, Mary Ann made tremendous contributions to young children.  Her strong commitment to allowing young children to develop and learn in a natural, unhurried way was a guiding force behind the development of Albuquerque Public Schools' Early Childhood Program. Under her direction the current Early Childhood Program. Under her direction the current Early Childhood Curriculum Guide, which supports curriculum and teaching strategies appropriate to the learning characteristics of children ages 4 to 8, was developed.


On the day of her death, Mary Ann was conducting a workshop for teachers at the Spring Conference of the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children.  Unknown to her, she had been chosen to receive the Association's Outstanding Early Childhood Educator Award.


The Mary Ann Binford Foundation has been established to continue her efforts in support of quality early childhood education.