What inspired you to be a teacher and ultimately led you to MSNV?
I graduated high school wanting to be a teacher. I had been lucky to have had some very influential teachers in my life, including my mom who taught school at various levels for thirty-six years, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. By the time I graduated from college, however, I wanted to be anything but a teacher. The world of education had begun to feel small to me, and I felt that there had to be something else out there. And so, I spent many years being anything but a teacher. It wasn't until after the birth of my first child that I began thinking about education again. When the time came for them to begin school, we were fortunate enough to find MSNV. After two years of volunteering in the classroom and getting to see first hand the elegance of Montessori, I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do and that MSNV was where I wanted to be. Twelve years in, it's still one of the best decisions that I've ever made.
Can you explain the co-teaching experience and how it benefits students?
I am fortunate to have worked with my teaching partner, Amanda Glithero, for eight years now. We have gotten to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and have grown together both as individual teachers and as a team. I feel that our bond is what makes West El such a strong classroom. Because Montessori is so focused on the needs of the individual child, it's important to be able to relate with the students and to form bonds with them. However, frankly, not every teacher clicks with every student, and not every student clicks with every teacher. Because the two of us bring different personalities and skill sets to our job, we are able to reach a wider variety of students than we would be able to working individually. We are stronger together.
Teaching in a Montessori classroom is a very layered experience. You are working in a three-year cycle with a mixed-age classroom with students working on various lessons at one time. Can you speak to what this experience has been like for you?
One of the things that I truly appreciate about Montessori is the three-year cycle. Because I have a student for three years, I have the luxury of patience, a patience that is not always afforded to a teacher in a traditional environment. Some years, we may have a child come into our classroom whose big work is socialization, who is not yet ready to take on more challenging academics. For that child, meeting their needs means teaching them simply how to function in a classroom community. The work we put for that child during that first year pays off later. Additionally, the spectrum of growth over the span of three years, both emotional and intellectual, is immense, and expecting each child to traverse this spectrum at the same rate as each of their peers is absurd. In the end, they all get to the same place, but each journey is unique to the child. Watching them walk their paths is fascinating.
What has been the best thing about working at MSNV?
MSNV has become a cornerstone of my life. Not only did both my children, to their benefit, attend MSNV, but this school has given me an outlet to effect positive change in the world. My life would be very different if I hadn't walked through those doors so many years ago.
Is there anything else you'd like parents to know about you?
I love talking about teaching and parenting and am always available to chat! Well, maybe not during the school day.