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Hub educator pens first children’s book

Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr. | 9/16/2009, 8:18 a.m.
Marie Wade sits at her desk surrounded by materials from “Countdown to Kindergarten,” the Boston Public Schools initiative where she works as a play group coordinator. As a recently published author, Wade hopes to use her first book, “Lucy Finds Her Moo,” to help build an academic foundation for children and parents. Frederick Ellis Dashiell Jr.

Marie Wade’s desk is piled with papers, boxes, books and “Countdown to Kindergarten” T-shirts. Somewhere deep inside the clutter, a phone rings.

Without looking, Wade reaches into the piles, returning with the receiver. She explains to the caller how she can use her first book, “Lucy Finds Her Moo,” to entertain and educate children.

She can read aloud from the book, published this past summer, which tells the story of a young cow that doesn’t know how to moo and asks a number of her fellow farm animals for help in learning. She tells the caller she can also run different types of play groups centered on passages and lessons from the book.

In addition to being a newly minted author, Wade is a play group coordinator at the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Countdown to Kindergarten initiative, which employs a specialized group of educators who work to prepare families and students to succeed when they begin kindergarten. Through programs like the play groups that Wade runs, which take children ages 1 through 3 and their parents through a typical kindergarten day, Countdown to Kindergarten aims to connect the city’s neighborhoods to the public school system.

As the first day of school approached during a recent visit, Wade said she’s finding herself with more work to do and less time to get it done. Despite the crunch, however, she is completely in her element.

“I’m the type of person who jumps into stuff,” Wade said.

Wade, a 27-year-old resident of Dorchester, is a product of Boston’s educational system. In the classroom and now on the printed page, she is working to give back to a city that she said has given her so much.

“I love Boston,” said Wade. “I’ve lived here all my life.”

Born in Haiti, she moved to the Dudley Square area of Roxbury at the age of 4 with her older sisters, brother and mother to live with her aunt. Wade said growing up in that house was “crowded and loud,” but that it prepared her for a career in education.

“I love being part of that family atmosphere,” she said. “It gave me the experience and determination to work with children.”

Wade was educated in the BPS system, starting at the Farragut Elementary School in Mission Hill. From there, she attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Roxbury.

After completing the King school, Wade had a choice to make. Would she take the Independent School Entrance Exam to apply to one of the city’s exam schools, or would she attend a school that did not require a test to be accepted?

Throughout her academic life, Wade, the third-youngest child in her family, dealt with comparisons to her sisters. When looking at high schools, Wade realized that she had a chance to differentiate herself from them.

“I didn’t take the test because I was tired of being compared to my older sisters,” said Wade.

Even though her first choice in high school was Boston Latin Academy, she decided instead to go to South Boston High School, because it was a choice she could control.