Maria Bostian – Kannapolis, North Carolina
2020 NFPA Educator of the Year
NFPA congratulates Maria Bostian of the Kannapolis Fire Department who has been selected as the 2020 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year. Bostian has 21 years of experience delivering fire and life safety to her community through presentations to varied audiences, a robust Fire Prevention Week campaign, and an ongoing social media initiative. NFPA materials and resources serve as the backdrop to all she does.
In 2019, Bostian visited a preschool classroom with the Fire Prevention Week theme, “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.” During the lesson, she emphasized the importance of knowing two ways out of every room in the event of a fire and customized handouts to send home with students. For one student in particular, her work proved life-saving. Shortly after the classroom lesson, Maria learned that after a fire had started in the home of a student. Because of that FPW lesson, the preschooler knew to use a secondary means of egress and helped her two siblings get out through the window to safety.
Maria’s primary role is to serve as educator to her school district’s preschool and elementary students and because of her efforts, a great working relationship has been established. Bostian reaches nearly 4,000 children with fire safety every month during the school year. Using her experience as a former Montessori elementary teacher, Bostian incorporates movement and hands-on activities into NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn lessons to connect with and motivate students.
When Bostian isn’t on duty at Kannapolis Fire Department, she can be found promoting fire safety through the two children’s picture books that she has authored, connecting vital safety messaging from NFPA’s Educational Messaging Advisory Council’s Desk Reference.
In addition, Bostian regularly reaches older adults in her community with the Remembering When Program, including those homebound with special “Birthday Boxes” that are filled with personal items, including NFPA’s safety tip sheets, and smoke alarms are installed where needed. Bostian’s fire safety even reaches her community’s four-legged furry friends as she teams up each year with a local pet supply store July 15th for Pet Fire Safety Day!
For her work, Bostian has been honored with many local and state awards including the 2012 North Carolina Fire & Life Safety Education Coalition State Council's Award of Excellence and the 2016 B.T. Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award. She can now add the 2020 NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award to that list. “We congratulate Maria on this honor. It is always gratifying to have one of our staff recognized for their hard work and years of dedication to our City,” said Kannapolis Fire Chief Tracy Winecoff.
While Bostian will receive her award this year, she will be honored officially at the 2021 NFPA Conference and Expo to be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, June 22-25, 2021.