About Mary Kay
An Unexpected Career: Exploring the Neuroscience of Play and Humor
Confidently armed with a degree from Northern Illinois University in early childhood, I was eager to begin my first job as a kindergarten teacher. I was fascinated with the research on how play was a critical factor in brain development. I enthusiastically integrated these brain-based play strategies in my curriculum. I was stunned to realize that as a teacher, I was expected to spend a considerable amount of time preparing for state and federal tests with paper and pencil activities. Play was not recognized as an important part of the learning process. Cognitive research was relatively new at that time, and the school curriculum was based on long-established traditional programs. Strategies to incorporate play were viewed by many as an inconsequential part of the learning process.
As much as I appreciated my various career opportunities, my most valued experiences have been in my role as a parent and grandparent. It has enabled me to have a unique perspective on how grandparents can make a significant impact on the lives of their grandchildren. One of the most joyful aspects of my life has been to collaborate with my grandchildren on my book, Legacy of Laughter: A Grandparent Guide and Playbook.
List of Clients and Recommendations
Mary Kay is grateful for the many opportunities to share her message of the benefits of humor, laughter and play. She has presented to wide variety of audiences which have included international conferences, hospitals, schools, senior living communities and university classes. She has been invited to speak in a variety of settings including a commencement keynote and did a retreat for a bank employees. Her mission includes sharing the power of humor with non-profit organizations to make a difference for those who are making a difference. Non-profit organizations can send a request to Mary Kay for one of her monthly pro-bono presentations.
Her volunteer work with AATH (The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor) included initiating the AATH Humor Academy and Certified Humor Professional program. This has been offered for graduate credit as well as for CEU and CME accreditation. As founder and director, she has overseen the education of over 200 humor scholars who have participated in this unique humor studies program through AATH.
Interview with Drew Tarvin, Humor Talks
Interview with Kevin Polky, The Journey #48.
Testimonial from Mary Kay Morrison’s National Presentation in Turkey
“When we decided to hold a conference about the power of humor in education in our school, I did some research about experts in the field and found Mary Kay Morrison. I emailed her to give information about our conference and ask her if she would be willing to come to Turkey to lecture Turkish teachers. I did not know that I was going to gain a wonderful friend. For months, we corresponded about the content of the conference to meet the needs of Turkish teachers and about cultural differences in humor. It turned out that Mary Kay’s humor is universal!Our conference was for 250 Turkish teachers and academicians from all over Turkey. One of the teachers wrote on her feedback form: “I had great fun in learning today, and I am going to carry everything I learned today to my classroom!” When all the teachers who attended the conference start to use more humor in their classrooms, Mary Kay will have touched the lives of at least 5000 Turkish children!” Handan Oktar, Administrator, Isikkent School, Izmir, Turkey
Mary Kay designed, planned and
implemented the Humor Academy
graduate and certificate program
for AATH in 2010.
Mary Kay serves as past president for
Association for Applied and