“How do you do what you do?” …. Marianne Barlow

Marianne is one of the greatest people, not to mention teachers, that I have ever met. She is an accomplished singer/songwriter; an animal lover; defender of all things righteous and one of the most authentic advocates for young children I’ve ever worked with.  She is fair, funny and never met an avocado she didn’t like.


What or who inspired/encouraged you to work with young children?

My mom is a preschool teacher so I grew up in that environment. She taught me how to talk to children and instilled in me a love of teaching. She encouraged me to get an elementary credential (because it pays better) so I did, but I found my way back to preschooler because I like to let kids play rather than make them do work they’re not interested in.

If money was no object, what would your dream life look like?

I would hit the road with my ukelele and guitar to play gigs all over the country. Eventually the Indigo Girls would discover me and I’d get to go on tour with them as their opening act.

What is your greatest gift?

Never growing up; always loving to play.

What is the best part of the day?

Snuggles, smiles, laughter, reading.  Discovery, kindness, singing, playing.  Jumping, running, pretending, sharing, solving problems ……. and figuring it out.


Getting frustrated when kids get stuck in a pattern of not-so-great choices.  Why can’t my patience to bottomless?!

Why The Room To Grow?

I’ll tell you the truth:  I can always tell if I’m in a right new place if it feels familiar even if I’ve never been there before. It was like that when I went to Girl Scout Camp (where I worked for six Summers) the first time. It was like that when I went to my first Women’s Music Camp. It’s like coming home.  Stepping into RTG was like that, so I knew I would take the job and it’s proven to be a wise choice. I’ve learned so much from working with Kris and Marie, the kids and teachers and from delving into Reggio and democratic process. I love RTG.

Do you have your own kids?

My children are my pit bull “Daisy” and the CD I did of my original songs. (available on iTunes and CDBaby!!)

What gets you up and out on those cold, dark mornings?

Coffee and smoothies.

What are some of your favorite books, kid and adult?

Kid — The Old Woman and the Wave by Shelley Jackson is my current favorite, but it’s so hard to choose. I love P.D. Eastman, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, Robert Shropshire and so many others.

Adult — I just finished We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I can’t tell you what it’s about because that would be a spoiler, but it’s a family drama and it’s really good. I love the Harry Potter books. (umm, can you tell I’m a preschool teacher when that qualifies as and ‘adult’ book?!)

One thing you’d like to have on a deserted island?

My ukelele.


What are some of your hobbies?

Singing, songwriting, guitar and ukelele. I also want to learn to play the cajon drum, trap set, banjo, mandolin, jazz piano, etc. etc. I am in a unkelele trio and direct The Organic Women’s Chorus in Berkeley.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate ice cream.

Do you root for any sports teams?

Here’s the thing. (Kris, do not edit this answer or add any comments from the peanut gallery. Thank you.) I grew up in LA watching the Dodgers with my dad. He also grew up in LA and got his first radio when he was 10 or 11 when the Dodgers moved out from Brooklyn. He still listens to Vin Scully call the games on that radio, so I can’t HELP IT that I still have Dodger blue in my veins even though I don’t follow the team hardly at all anymore. Can you learn to like me anyway?! I have tried to become a Giants or even an A’s fan but it hasn’t worked. Think of it as an illness if you must. I also root for UCLA because I went to the lab school for K-6th grade and I root for the Sparks because my moms have season tickets (thank you Magic for saving the team, really all my teams). Mostly, I don’t watch sports so this long winded answer is really just a way to come out to the world as an LA girl. So, there you have it.

Unsolicited ed. note: I’m a die-hard Giant’s fan. The Dodger thing is pretty hard to take, but Marianne is so wonderful that I must forgive that one flaw and by doing so, practice what is at the heart of our program; community building through the understanding and acceptance of the rights and needs of the individuals that make up the whole.

About Kris Taylor

I am the very fortunate director of two small, mixed-age preschools that are finding their unique paths by interpreting and incorporating the best of the progressive, constructivist early childhood philosophies. I never forget that the community of teachers, families and children are what makes it the amazing place that it is. Each day is another precious opportunity to practice and perfect valuing, respecting and loving one another; creating and exploring community; and having immeasurable fun in the process.
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