About Author
Mary R. Massey, Ed.D.
Mary R. Massey, Ed.D.

Dr. Massey is a former public school music teacher, elementary school principal, and college professor. She believes all children are SMART in their own, special way and it is up to us to view them through a lens that reflects their strengths. Dr. Massey has been involved in research of Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and uses her book series, SMART Parts, to help children understand their strengths, in order to fortify their sense of self and help build a strong foundation for growing and learning. Her passion for teaching and learning fuels her belief that our perception of young children must be dimensional and fluid, as we are all continually experiencing life and, therefore, learning through our experiences. Children come to us eager to love and to learn. Our response to them may very well determine their success at both.

Mary R. Massey, Ed.D. Books

(1) Paperback, Signed Paperback,
(1) Paperback, Signed Paperback,
(1) Paperback, Signed Paperback,
Jimmy, the Nature SMART Ninja: A book about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligencesby Mary R. MasseyPublish: Dec 30, 2018Series: SMART PartsChildren's
(2) Paperback, Signed Paperback,
(2) Paperback, Signed Paperback,

Mary R. Massey, Ed.D. interview On 07, Feb 2019

"A former public school music teacher, elementary school principal, and college professor, Mary R. Massey. The author was drawn to writing her first book when she had searched for children's books about Multiple Intelligences and couldn't find any. Mary is a lifelong learner. She loves learning new things and she continually challenges herself to learn. Her daughter, Alexandra, was the inspiration for Alex, the Music SMART Maestro. She is currently in the final publishing stages for book #4, Jimmy, the Nature SMART Ninja. Her books are more of an attempt to contribute to the educational community some vital information/research that she believes could change the face of education."
What did you enjoy doing the most while growing up in northern Indiana? After moving to Alabama in 1970, did you miss spending time in northern Indiana?

I lived on a pig farm in Indiana. As a child, I loved feeding the pigs, running around the field and chasing the little pigs. I also enjoyed helping my Dad when it was time for our sows to deliver. They were kept in farrowing stalls and the deliveries needed to be supervised and the piglets attended to. I learned a lot about the life cycle and what it takes to run a farm. I definitely missed the four seasons I was able to enjoy in Indiana, as south Alabama was a lot warmer and I never experienced snow there, although there you will find the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen!

When did you decide that you wanted to become an author?

I was really drawn to writing my first book when I had searched for children's books about Multiple Intelligences and couldn't find any. It was important to me, as a life-long teacher, that young children have an opportunity to hold books in their hands, or to have books read to them, that helped them understand their potential in growing their intelligences.

How do you incorporate your research of Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligence into your books? How do you think your books will help your young readers to fortify their sense of self and help build a strong foundation for growing and learning?

I have researched Gardner's theory since the 1990s. My Master's thesis centered around a practicum I was involved in, incorporating MI into a 4th grade math class. Students participated in activities that involved all eight intelligences to solve basic and complex math problems. My Doctoral dissertation involved working with preschool teachers to create a classroom environment that provided students multiple ways of learning in the classroom and out in nature. My book series is meant to provide children with simple examples of different strengths in order to help them understand intelligence is fluid and expandable and to encourage them to tap into all of their intelligences or "SMART parts."

When children understand their strengths, value the strengths of others, and learn how to work together, their sense of self is validated. They are not comparing their abilities with others, rather they are honoring individual and unique strengths of others, as well as themselves. With a solid self-confidence, children can then move forward in learning, knowing their potential has no boundaries or limitations.

What developed your passion for Multiple Intelligence teaching/learning? How did you become friends with Kelly Baloun?

When I was a public school music teacher, our elementary school received a grant to implement MI teaching/learning into the daily curriculum. We replaced our annual Field Day with an MI Olympics. We created an MI Garden in which eight different centers were set up to allow students to flow from one center to the other, exploring their eight intelligences. We held MI Day every Wednesday in which students rotated throughout eight classes, each one designed to focus on one of the eight intelligences. Through these experiences, I saw first-hand how students blossomed when given the opportunity to learn through their dominant intelligence. I was convinced MI was an effective instructional strategy and I became eager to tell others about it.

Kelly came to me for an interview for a teaching position in the school where I was principal. I hired her and quickly realized she was one of the best teachers I'd ever observed. She eventually took on the role of Curriculum Resource Teacher and worked along side me in planning curriculum, teacher training, special events, etc. Kelly married and her husband, Eric, and they became best friends with my son, Will. When Kelly's daughter, Ellie Rae, was born, Kelly and Eric asked Will to be her godfather. Our families continue to grow close and spend a lot of time together.

How did you begin writing the SMART Parts Book Series? Where did you meet your fabulous illustrator, April Bensch?

I began writing this series as a single book. I didn't think about it becoming a series until after the first book was written. The first book originally had a different title character, but after Ellie Rae became like family (she calls me "MiMi"), and I watched her growing and learning, I knew I wanted to make her the title character and I asked Kelly if it would be ok.

One of my college roommates, Susie Shoman, introduced me to April and I'm so grateful to have her as part of the SMART Parts team! She is an exceptional artist and is gifted in understanding how to tell a story through her illustrations.

What memories do you have from spending an entire day at Ellie Rae’s school? What do you owe to Ellie Rae for making her the title character in your book?

I am happiest when I am around children who are learning and I have come to realize that children are always learning. I have always been fascinated with the learning process as children explore the world around them and you can see when "the light bulb comes on." The moment when a child grasps a concept, learns a new word, or understands a process, is magical. I always love to see Ellie Rae in her school environment. She loves to learn and she loves to show me her classroom and all the projects she and her classmates are working on.

I've never thought of "owing" something to Ellie Rae, although I am grateful her family is willing to include her in my books and I am committed to honoring and respecting her through my portrayal of her character.

Being able to reconnect with your PHS classmates, how important do you think is social media in today's era? What role does social media play in the life of an author?

Social media presents countless opportunities to connect and reconnect and I believe is very important in today's society for that reason. I now have people in my life that I haven't physically seen for over 50 years, but because of social media we are able to stay in touch and participate in one another's lives, if only from a distance. Like anything we want to communicate, an author's books can get valuable traction from various social media outlets.

How do you think being a former public school music teacher, elementary school principal, and college professor has helped you shape into a writer?

Probably the most important influence would be my passion for learning. I'm a lifelong learner. I love learning new things and I continually challenge myself to learn. Children are natural learners. They are curious and uninhibited as they grow and learn. I have entered every position I've held as one through which I could continue learning and none have disappointed me. Because I am committed to the welfare and education of children, it is only natural for me to work to contribute to them in any way I am able. I was told by Dr. Thomas Hoerr, Scholar in Residence at University of Missouri-St. Louis and Emeritus Head of New City School (an MI school), "You are filling an important need," by writing my books. That means a lot to me.

What was the inspiration for the book, Alex, the Music SMART Maestro? What is the most difficult thing about writing children's books?

My daughter, Alexandra, was the inspiration for Alex, the Music SMART Maestro. She is a musician and her advanced musical/rhythmic intelligence has been evident from a very early age. As she was growing up, I watched her use her musical/rhythmic intelligence throughout her educational journey. I don't know that I would characterize writing children's books as "difficult", however I do work hard to remain true to Gardner's theory and to make my books simple enough to speak to young children, at their developmental level.

How did you come up with your blog name, "Hug the Mountain?" What do you enjoy writing more - blogs or children books?

My Dad always said to me when I was trying to make a decision, "Don't see how close you can get to the edge without falling off. Instead, you should hug the mountain." That has been a very important tenet for me my entire life and I wanted to honor his memory with my blog name.

I don't enjoy one more than the other. They serve very different purposes for me. My blog is more of a public journal, I guess. I write to share my thoughts and I enjoy getting feedback on those thoughts, even if they are contradictory to what I think or believe. My books are more of an attempt to contribute to the educational community some vital information/research (Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences) that I believe could change the face of education. My attempt is specific to the education of young children, but hopefully will have a positive effect because those children will grow into the adults of tomorrow.

Who was the inspiration for the character, Will? How many more books do you plan to add to the Dr. Mary Massey's SMART Parts series?

My son, William, was the inspiration for Will, the Word SMART Wizard. Even as an adult, Will is fascinated with word plays, puns, and jokes. He has a keen sense of humor and that manifests itself often times through language.

The series will include ten books when it is complete. The first book is an introduction to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences and all eight characters. Eight subsequent books each single out one character from the first book and focuses on that specific intelligence. The tenth book will be a combination journal/activity book to assist the reader in their understanding of all of the intelligences, through the characters with whom they have become familiar.

How much do you research to write your books about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligence?Which book in the series took the longest to write?

Of course the bulk of my research took place while writing both my Master's thesis and Doctoral dissertation. However, I continue to follow Gardner, as well as several authors whose writings are specific to turning theory into practice in the classroom. I receive Dr. Hoerr's monthly MI newsletter and I subscribe to Dr. Gardner's Official Authoritative Site of Multiple Intelligences (OASIS), which keep me up to date on the latest research.

My first book probably took the longest because I was trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say and how to say it. I spent years rewriting it. Before the book was published, I also used it, without illustrations, as a teaching tool in my classrooms. Reaction to the book and feedback from students and other teachers was invaluable to me in my writing process.

What does literary success look like to you? Did you expect Ellie Rae Discovers Eight Ways to be SMART to become an award-winning, introductory book?

I'm sure literary success means something different to every author. For me, putting my books in the hands of students, teachers, administrators, and parents who are invested in the welfare and education of young children and seeing teaching/learning become more effective for every individual learner, no matter what their strengths . . . now, THAT would feel like success.

I really had no expectations about awards. Because I had just begun my journey as a children's author, I was totally focused on writing. I have, however, been thrilled with the recognition my book series has received and I am grateful Ellie Rae Discovers Eight Ways to be SMART led the way for other books in my series to be acknowledged, as well.

What are you currently working on? What are some of your upcoming books? Do you plan to write in the same genre for all your upcoming novels?

I am currently in the final publishing stages for book #4, Jimmy, the Nature SMART Ninja. I have completed the text for book #5, Maggie, the Self SMART Sister, and will soon send it to April to begin the illustration process

The two books, #4 and #5, mentioned above are very close to publication. I still have four books to write for the rest of the intelligences and the 10th and final book in this series, the culminating journal/activity book. Once my SMART Parts series is complete, I will move on to something else.

I have had a lot of interest from students to write a chapter book about multiple intelligences. I am working through that in my mind, but really like the idea. I also have another idea for a faith-based children's book that I'm anxious to get working on.

Ask Mary R. Massey, Ed.D. a question

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