Mary Jo Finney, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Education

Education: Oakland University, Ph.D., MAT, Michigan State University, BA

What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I enjoy most about my work is the challenge of preparing students to teach in the urban environment.  Urban centers require teachers with grit, compassion, open minds and unshakable resolve to help children believe in themselves.  Helping my students see these attributes in themselves, as future teachers, is thrilling work and my passion is fueled day in and day out by my students’ dedication to their profession.

Who has had the greatest influence on your career?

There are many people who have influenced my career.  The first individual who comes to mind is my mentor in graduate school, Dr. Dorsey Hammond.  Dr. Hammond believed in me and saw a talent for teaching I was not aware I possessed.  Dr. Ron Cramer was another professor of mine in graduate school who deeply influenced my confidence in myself as a writer.  I am able to publish because of him.  My children, of course, influence me every minute of every day.


  • 2011 Genesee County Priority Children Children’s Champion Award, nominee.
  • 2009 YWCA Woman of Achievement, nominee.
  • 2007 YWCA Woman of Achievement, recipient.
  • 2006-2008 UM-Flint Golden Apple Award student acknowledgements of excellence in teaching.
  • 2005 Celebrate Literacy Award.  International Reading Association.  Flint Area Reading Council Annual Awards Ceremony.
  • 2005 Distinguished Professor Award, University of Michigan – Flint Student Government Council, nominee.


I love traveling to learn of life in all its forms.  My favorite domestic locales are the mountains of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Montana because I love hiking.  My interest in finding potential places for my students in the Secondary MAC program to study abroad has taken me to the overseas communities of Chile, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and England.  Besides traveling, I find great pleasure in studying nature, writing, and reading.

Current Projects

I am engaged in several projects.  The one most directly related to the Secondary MAC is a partnership with Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.  The students from Charles University and those in the Secondary MAC program created and exchanged digital stories about a day in their lives studying to become teachers.  The stories documented Prague and Detroit as unique venues for learning and teaching.  After exchanging the stories, the students and faculty met via skype.  In June, a faculty member and two selected students from Prague came to Michigan to meet face-to-face and further discuss the similarities and differences between the two cities.  A small group of Secondary MAC students will visit Prague this coming fall.