Like many of our readers, I grew up watching Sesame Street on my local PBS affiliate. Besides my family and teachers, I credit my lifelong love of learning, in part, to the lessons taught to me at an early age by Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and the rest of the cast of Muppet and human characters. One of those friendly humans who lived on the eponymous street was Maria, who was always a joy and always made viewers and the cast of the show feel like she genuinely cared about them. My guess is that it’s because Maria, portrayed by Sonia Manzano, actually cared about kids and education, which made her performances feel so effortless.

Earlier this week, Ms. Manzano announced that, after 45 years with the folks at Sesame Street, she would be retiring. While I would say that the world just got a little less shiny, that would take away from the decades she’s put into educating children everywhere. Godspeed, ma’am. In honor of this extraordinary lady, here are a few clips of some of Ms. Manzano’s best moments on Sesame Street during her tenure with the series.

Maria and the Blue Man


Maria Discusses Her Jobs

Placido Flamingo and Maria

Maria Helps Telly Feel Better