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Maria Zafuto

GROW Consultant

Maria is a lifetime resident of Niagara Falls, NY, and proudly served her community. Having

recently retired after 35 years with the Niagara Falls City School District, Maria began her career teaching biology, chemistry, and physics at the former LaSalle Senior and Niagara Falls high schools. She also served 19 years in district administrative positions at the high school, middle school, and elementary levels. Early in her career, Maria found her passion working with teachers to bring about systemic change. During her tenure at Niagara Middle School, faculty chose to implement America’s Choice Comprehensive School Reform design model, where Maria served as Design Coach and later building principal. NMS was recognized by University at Albany as a high performing Best Practices school prior to its closing in 2007.


Maria has extensive experience in helping establish a positive school climate due to the consolidation of schools. She noted after her first closure that with change came opportunity, and she worked closely with all stakeholders to process the many emotions they experienced, channeling them to best help not only themselves but more importantly to serve the school community at large. Faculty, staff, students and parents were all active participants as schools established their own identities.


Maria has been associated with CITRS since 2019. Most recently, she introduced Character Counts to Maple Avenue School, which saw a 75% decrease in disciplinary referrals after its first year of implementation. She believes that building relationships is pivotal to creating



Maria holds a bachelor's degree in Biology and Masters degrees in Foundations of Education and Administration and Supervision. She also holds an advanced certificate in School District Administration (SDA).

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