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May 2, 2019

Meet Maria Caci – Karen Richards Award Recipient

Earlier this week we chatted with our 2019 Employee of the Year, Clayton Schmidt (if you missed it, make sure you hop over and read). Now it’s time to introduce to you another employee who we honored with the Karen Richards Award!


The Karen Richards Award is a very special recognition that we present annually to a Doodle team member with a really big heart. The award got its name from long-time Doodle Bugs! employee and infant teacher, Karen Richards, who passed away in December of 2016. Over her nearly 20 years with Doodle Bugs!, Ms Karen helped to raise hundreds of children. She will always be remembered for her kindness and dedication to her family, her Doodle Bugs! children, and her colleagues.


The award created in her memory is the embodiment of the dedication, love, kindness, and patience shown by Karen as an early childhood caregiver. Individuals considered for this award have unlimited kindness in their heart, and are always a positive example for the children and teachers they interact with every day.


This year, it is our pleasure to recognize Maria Caci, Infant Teacher at our East Amherst location with this award. We caught up with Ms Maria this week:



Tell me your Doodle Story? What drew you to early childhood education and Doodle Bugs!?

I have been with Doodle Bugs! East Amherst for 15 years. Prior to Doodle Bugs!, I earned a degree in Art Education and taught in the field for 10 years. When I began at Doodle Bugs!, I was a Teacher Assistant for a couple years before becoming the Infant Lead Teacher in Classroom 9.


Karen Richards was a long-time Doodle Bugs! teacher who made an impression on hundreds or people. What does receiving an award in her honor mean to you?

The award is truly an honor. Receiving an award that recognizes the  positive influence I’ve had on my co-workers makes me happy.  I have been overwhelmed by the reaction of my center and my co-workers, I love being a part of such a good team. Last month, they declared “Kindness Day” for me – it was a day filled with expressions of congratulations, gratitude and generosity.


What 3 words would you use to describe your Doodle workday?

Challenging, gratifying, and self-rewarding.


I am happiest at work when…

I accomplish all that I’ve set out to do that day. Every day is different and unpredictable, so if I can cross everything of my list, that makes me happy!


What do you hope to accomplish over the next 5 years?

I hope to be a positive influence for my daughter who is pursuing a career in the field of education.


In Maria’s nearly two decades, she seen so many children grow up right before her eyes– and played a vital part in that process! She has formed so many relationships with families that have fueled her to continue pursuing her passion, working with children. But, don’t take it from us, here’s what the families and teachers she’s touched have to say:


I have been very lucky to work with Miss Maria for the past 2 1/2 years. I always enjoy going into her classroom the amount of love for the children she cares for is incredible. She takes such great care of all the children in her care as if they are her own. Being a new mom, I feel very fortunate to have my daughter in her classroom!


We have wonderful memories of Miss Maria  treating our baby boy like family, thank you for all you do, it means so much!


Loved Miss Maria!! She took such good care of my babies!!


Both of my kids have had Miss Maria as their teacher! She truly is such a wonderful person and teacher!


All three of my children have been in Miss Maria’s classroom, my youngest is there now. I know she is in good hands! Thank you Miss Maria!!

The love Maria has brought into her infant room over the last 15+ years has comforted so many families!