We inspire and guide children to love learning, to love one another, and to love the world around them.
Teacher Tuesday: Get to Know Upper Elementary Teacher Baylen Wagner
MSNV is fortunate to have a phenomenal team of teachers. On this Teacher Tuesday, we want to introduce you to one of our dedicated educators, Upper Elementary teacher Baylen Wagner.
As a former Monterssori student, what led you to pursue a career as a Montessori teacher? Even as a child I valued curiosity above all things. I studied cello performance in my undergraduate and loved the arts for their collaborative nature but disliked the competitive aspects. By the end of my degree I realized I wanted to guide others toward fulfilling life work, but I could never be satisfied teaching only one subject. My mother went through training to become a Montessori elementary teacher when I was still in grade school. She was inspired by my Montessori teachers. If I was going to become a teacher myself, the only approach that made sense was Montessori. I knew I could foster curiosity and avoid diminishing it in the next generation.
What led you to MSNV? My wife (then girlfriend) and I were trying to find a place to live together after a couple years of long-distance dating. She was interested in international development research based in DC. Having just finished my Masters of Education and AMI Montessori certification I was ready to start my teaching career, and DC seemed like just as fine a place as any. In talking to my contacts in Minnesota, a few schools, including MSNV were recommended to me. I reached out and Besty Mitchell said she'd keep my resume on file in case something came up. I was surprised and delighted when she contacted me a year later! The upper elementary was expanding and looking for a second guide for UE7. My mind was made up the minute I stepped through the door and heard ukulele music floating down the hallways.
What are the benefits of a multi-age classroom where you have students for three years? One of the greatest benefits, in my opinion, is the time we teachers have to build trust and understanding with our students. A year is almost never enough time to create a bond and leverage that relationship to guide children toward their best selves. We see them grow and learn to a greater extent than any single-grade classroom could allow. Equally significant is the relationship each child builds with the classroom. They benefit from a connection with the classroom environment that changes over the years. As a new child they are guided by their older peers, and eventually they become the leaders who uphold the classroom values and inspire others.
What do you love most about MSNV? MSNV impressed me almost immediately with the quality of human connection I saw between adults and children. The students are confident, the teachers are invested, and the administration is authentic. There is no "package" being marketed and sold to parents. Instead, the school is carefully searching for kindred spirits that value healthy human development above all else. I love my coworkers for their inspiring talents, their years of experience, their incredible sense of humor, but most of all for their dedication to one another and to the community.
To date, what has been the most rewarding as an Upper Elementary teacher? Nothing is more satisfying than to see a child become a guide to others. I'm very grateful to teach the age I do. The children's capacity for abstract thought and compassion reaches new heights during Upper Elementary. I get to witness the journey of children, who have struggled with some emotion or skill, discovering newfound confidence. Then they recognize and move to assist that same struggle in a younger student. Observing and guiding children toward greater self-awareness is one of the many sublime rewards that come with being a Montessori teacher.