Episode #76: Leading by Hand, Heart, and Mind with Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran has served as an associate professor, middle school teacher, principal and library media specialist. She is a researcher, keynote, international speaker and TEDxYouth speaker. Marialice is a pioneer in digital citizenship and is Founder and Executive Director of the Digital Citizenship Institute.

Marialice’s mission is to turn negatives into positives and help to transform participants into designers, creative thinkers, global collaborators, problem solvers, and justice-oriented digital citizens. Enjoy her story and podcast!
Your background and passions
I’m really proud I’m from Boston. My story starts outside of Boston in a town called Winchester. That community has been instilled in me and impacted the choices I’ve made. I moved to Connecticut when I got married and have lived there for the past 14 years. I miss seeing people as I saw in Boston. There are rolling hills, and homes with garages. They click a button and go in their garage and then we never see people as I used to see in Boston.
My dad was a professor at Boston College, and I grew up going to the Campus School with my dad. This is where I truly believe the leading by hand, heart, and mind was modeled for me as a young child. Think you’ll like this influence in my life: http://cs.bc.edu/~gips/EENewsS03.pdf and https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/schools/carroll-school/sites/eagle-eyes.html/
Your Family

My husband, Sean Dee, is also an untraditional learner. He is Deaf and always said that it is not a disability but a serious inconvenience. Our son, Curran Dee, has parents who are role models that are very unique with different gifts and talents. Sean grew up lip reading and on our first blind date, he held onto my every word. I thought this guy really digs me, but I didn’t realize that he has to look at everyone that way. He didn’t learn Sign Language until he was in college and has often commented that sometimes he feels like he doesn’t belong in either the hearing world or the Deaf world.
Curran is the true introvert in our family. He is a fabulous traditional learner who does really well in school. I wish he broke the rules a little bit more, but he does not struggle academically. My husband and I are happy about it but also a little sad because all of our struggles have defined us. I know he’ll have his own struggles different than what we had.

What it was like for you as a student
I went to Winchester Public Schools K-12 and I was a failure as a student. I had parents who believed in me and told me how smart I was and that I could do anything. When you are young, you believe anything your parents said. Yet, I bought into the teachers and high school counselor who told me I was not college material. In first grade, I was diagnosed and that is the worst word in the world. For me, it is like a four letter word. They used the “R” word when I was in the first grade.

My parents did some outside testing and finally found out that I was dyslexic. I feel like there was a lot of education that my parents did for the school system because nobody in the system knew about dyslexia in the early 70s. I never fit in in elementary school. Every Friday there was a test in math and we need to transcribe the problems on the board. Every Monday you would check the board to see if your test was on the bulletin board. I never transcribed the question right. Those examples of not fitting in and always failing and feeling like a failure definitely defined me for the majority of my life. I didn’t want anyone to know because it was embarrassing and you feel like you are that diagnosis.
I remember in junior high, hiding in the bathroom so people didn’t have to see me go down that corridor for “those” kids.