Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dallas Dweller: Marnie Glaser

Dallas is full of colorful characters. There are those you see monthly in the society pages, whose stories are legendary in this town. But, this feature is inspired by the people that I think you should know more about because of their fabulous style, interesting back-story or amazing accomplishments. Dallas Dweller seeks to introduce you to these fabulous faces.

Dallas Dweller: Marnie Glaser
by Alison Weinstein

Last week, I met my friend and early education advocate, Marnie Glaser, for coffee. Even in workout gear, Marnie still manages to channel Audrey Hepburn! Envy aside, I instantly became obsessed with her… bar graphs! It had been some time since we had gotten together and to my “What’s up?” – question, Marnie busted out her laptop! What else could I expect from my friend with the Masters in Brain and Behavior Science? For as long as I have known this classy Preston Hollow Mom of Three (including a set of twin boys), Marnie has been pounding the legislative pavement (in her fabulous kitten heels BTW) with groups like Commit! to challenge the status quo of education quality in Dallas County.

“86 percent of students in Dallas County graduate high school without being college ready,” said Marnie who then provided hard numbers on how this impacts our community. So much for my interest in her holiday travel plans. “The breakdown happens before third grade (with reading and writing deficits) and from there it’s very hard to catch up. Imagine the gravity of change if we could aggregate our talents and work together to remedy the problem. Imagine the prosperity our community would have when every child loves to learn, is successful in school and can reach their full life potential. ” When asked what drives her, Marnie responded that the notion of kids being left behind because of gaps in the system is “intolerable and simply doesn’t have to happen. There is solid research to support change. It’s up to all of us, whether our children go to private or public school, to ensure that all children in our community have access to a quality education.”

As a child growing up in Houston, Marnie was affected by the poverty she saw in the city. While most people around her were convinced there was little they could do, her parents and grand parents inspired her to become a change-maker. “They were strong supporters of education as the great equalizer for everyone to succeed. With that, I knew this would be my life’s work.” In addition to Commit!, Marnie is involved with numerous early education advocacy groups like Head Start both locally and at the state level. When I asked her “What’s next?” – meaning ‘was she heading to the gym?’ Marnie naturally said she was off to Hockaday where she was readying to keynote their Day of Service. No cup of coffee could have given me the energy and motivation that Marnie’s will to improve education outcomes for all Dallas kids - did. And as much as I was looking forward to a kick-back visit with my friend, the opportunity to listen to a true community leader intent on moving the needle (big time) in all of our schools was pretty darn terrific.


OSC: What’s next on your agenda to change the world?

MG: (Amongst other things) a blog and website called SchoolsWeLove. It will be a website to help inform parents who want to lead change in their schools and what to focus on. There is a lot of will to get involved and help schools, but people don’t know where to start or what to do.

OSC: How has your research affected your decision on where to send your own children to school?

MG: I am beyond encouraged by changes already underway. While my husband and I originally thought the private school system was right for all of our children, we decided to send the twins to our neighborhood school (Preston Hollow Elementary) particularly after learning it was becoming an International Baccalaureate school. We have LOVED it. We have an incredible principal, dedicated teachers, and committed parents plus we get to ride our bikes to school!

OSC: What are your favorite things to do in Dallas during the fall/winter months?

MG:  I love going downtown and taking advantage of our incredible arts district, as well as taking my kids to the Dallas Arboretum.

OSC: When you need some "me" time to relax, where do you go or what do you do to relax and recharge?

MG:  Relax? That's for vacation, right? My favorite way to really recharge is to either curl up with a great book or go for a bike ride around White Rock Lake. Paddle boarding there is pretty awesome too!

OSC:  What are your favorite restaurants?

MG: Oh, so hard! Love the patio at R&D next to the incredible water feature (joke I have with a friend), Shin Sei for sushi and for a treat, Le Bilboquet.

OSC:  What are your favorite places to shop?

MG:  Calypso, Bel Aire and Grange Hall.

OSC: What's your favorite Dallas festival or event?

MG:  Turkey Trot and the Booker T. Annual performance is pretty incredible.

OSC:  What do you think makes Dallas such a great place to live, work and raise a family?

MG: The emphasis on family, friends and community is incredible here. Since I moved here 15 years ago, I have seen our community come together to create a city rich in the arts, innovation and all types of culture.

About Alison Weinstein  A freelance writer and TV news producer, Weinstein started her career with Condé Nast Publications and ultimately followed her passion to television news at MSNBC in New York. Now in Dallas for over ten years, Alison has worked with NBC Network’s Southwest Bureau and other major network news divisions as a field producer. Making a difference in the community is also a terrific passion and Alison is honored to serve in leadership roles for Heroes for Children and The Dallas Holocaust Museum. Alison loves spending quality time with her husband, Michael and their two children, Carter & Ashley.