I was a Montessori child, attending the Cobb School for 9 years. Then, after college, I attended MTCNE’s Primary training course and have now spent the last 5 years assisting in a Lower Elementary classroom and most recently leading a Primary classroom at Moore Montessori Community School (MMCS), a public charter school in Southern Pines, NC.
I was working on a horse farm the year after college and had many moments while mucking stalls and exercising horses for deep reflection. I found myself constantly thinking about my childhood and all the experiences I had-one of the most prominent ones being the vivid memories of my childhood Montessori experience: The lasting friendships I made, the gentle guidance through real-life experiences, the sequential learning that followed my pace and made me always stretch for more information, the connection to nature and living things, the responsibility required to be a member of a community… all of it truly prepared me for the world ahead of me. I realized then that my Montessori roots grew deep and that I would find my way back to it somehow. The training course just happened to be starting at the right time, in my hometown, with my old primary teacher, Gretchen Hall, leading the training. It was just meant to be to complete the full circle! The training course gave me the opportunity to learn how to give all of the gifts I received in my Montessori childhood to other children and ever since graduating from the training course, I haven’t doubted that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing in my life.
In June 2023, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Africa with my aunt, Ashley Washburn, who runs a nonprofit organization called Asante Sana for Education (ASFE). Her organization not only provides students of all ages and communities tools and resources needed to support their education system, but it also founded its very own Montessori school (BEE Montessori) when it became apparent that early childhood education was a wonderful key to kick-starting education to students in the region. I had the great pleasure of consulting with ASFE and providing professional development to the BEE Montessori guides during my trip. I was able to share my knowledge of lesson planning and record keeping, present model lessons on some of the math materials they were unfamiliar with, and answer questions about English language and reading development. In turn, they showed me a whole new level of how song and dance can recharge a community and the pure happiness that comes from singing and dancing together. They also gave me grace as I attempted to learn and remember basic words in Swahili that I could bring back to my own classroom, allowed me to observe their days and even shared traditional Tanzanian lunch of ugali with me. Working with these incredible guides completely inspired me. The care they take in presenting their lessons to their children is meticulous. Their movements and language are extremely precise and the energy that surrounds them builds a sense of safety and confidence for the children. I was reminded during this trip how amazing Montessori is that it can cross countries, oceans and continents and each child who is a part of a Montessori community anywhere is the luckiest in the world. And I feel the luckiest of all to have been a part of an amazing experience that brought together enthusiastic Montessorians who are striving to change the world, one child at a time.