Beth MacDonald ... is the founder and Director of MacDonald Montessori. "She started in March 1986.The Infant Toddler centers and preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy have been a constant source of inspiration to me during most of the 25 year life of MacDonald Montessori School. The educators from Reggio Emilia, in particular Amelia Gambetti and the other educators in our country inspired by this approach have supported us in our journey to envision a deeper, richer, more powerful image of children, parents and teachers. The collaboration of all three of these protagonists-children, parents and teachers have created a school that welcomes, encourages and sustains love, learning and creativity. I am grateful for the 25 years and for the every day experiences of this school."
Pat Daly ... Joined the MMS staff in September 1986. "I began at MMS in 1986 with the motivation of teaching young children and sharing with them the joy of learning. Soon after, I attended a conference in Philadelphia and heard a speaker tell of her teaching experiences in a town in northern Italy called Reggio Emilia. She shared a fantastic project of five and six year old children involved in a year long dinosaur exploration. The competency, commitment and autonomy of these young children in endeavors of math, science and art amazed and inspired me. This was a turning point in my vision of the images of the child and teacher. The realization that the young child in the United States could have these experiences drove us to explore in depth the Reggio Emilia philosophy. The knowledge that we could be co-learners with the children began a deepening of my commitment to their education. Observation, documentation and collaboration with my colleagues helped me form strategies to nourish and sustain their interests. While I am no longer in the classroom, I value the opportunity to work with the younger teachers and help them on their journey to realize the richness and excitement of exploring the world with these incredible children and all they have to teach us as educators."
Shannon O'Connor ... Joined the MMS staff in February 1990. "I see children as complex individuals who offer to adults many insights into the world of the child. Children are capable and competent and have a drive that continuously motivates them to actively seek out opportunities for independence. Children have a right to this independence and to be a part of a community that supports them in their quest to develop their own selves. When we as teachers support the child in their drive, the children learn to trust in us and make visible to us, many more possibilities that they are capable of. When we see things through the eyes of a child, our image of the child cannot help but become more open. I am continuously amazed by the children’s insights and their abilities because the children make every day something different and exciting. Teaching to me also becomes very exciting and dynamic. Each year is a new journey and something that I anticipate."
Aaron MacDonald ... Joined the MMS staff in January 2001. "The parent has the obvious role of nurturing, shelter, love, education, and a million other essential tasks. The one task that parents struggle with the most is letting go…allowing the child to explore, create, and make mistakes on their own. I’ve noticed that children transition and adapt to change a lot easier and quicker than the parents. Whenever a child moves to a new classroom, they tend to be more ready than the parents. It is a difficult challenge for the parents to let go, but an important one."
Liz Watzl ... Joined the MMS staff in September 1999. "A child is full of wonder, knowledge, curiosity, and joy for learning and life. Children do not think small. Children know what they are doing and why. I believe a child is a collector of knowledge. Personal experiences and relationships within their environment make up the content of their collections. A child is capable of using many languages to gather and organize their developing life stories/collections. With the appropriate adult support, a child is capable of becoming an expert in their world and the limitless ability within themselves. Teachers often get stuck in one way of seeing things. When we, as teachers, take a minute to slow down and look at the world through the eyes of a child, we have the capability to see the classroom, the school, and the world in a whole new way. Children have the ability to get teachers excited about learning just as teachers have the ability the get children excited about learning and exploring the world in different ways. Seeing the joy in the children’s eyes makes me want to find that same joy."
Amy Strunk ... Amy joined the MMS staff in August 2011. "The image of a school is a place of peace…where all children can come together and combine their knowledge and experiences. A school must provide experiences, tools, and staff who fully believe in their philosophy, curriculum and most of all the children! A school is a family, who are all coming together to nurture, educate and guide one another. A school is a family where dreams are made. Where children are being heard and laughter is celebrated. A school is a place of hope, encouragement, and support, where all possibilities are endless."
Anna Johnson ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2006. "To me a school is a living thing that functions best when all its parts are working together with a flow of collaboration and dialog between them. Everyone who enters our school is a part of its vitality. We are all responsible for its growth and energy. When teachers, parents and children come together they bring life to our school community. As is true with all living things, a school is constantly evolving and changing yet remaining true to its original roots. A school is a place where children and adults can grow and succeed alongside each other. Not only does a school support education in its traditional sense of teaching math, language, science and art; a school also fosters and revitalizes the more important subjects of how to be happy, how to be a good friend, to express care and thoughtfulness and to work through problems that arise. It is my goal as a teacher to support children in their development of a lifelong love for learning."
Ashley Moren ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2012. My image of a school is to provide a comfortable and engaging environment that sparks creativity and inspiration for each child. The teachers offer different learning strategies adapted for different age levels, noticing each child’s needs and providing the tools to learn through all mediums. Schools provide the materials to grow mental, physical, and emotional development in each individual.
Christina McNulty ... Joined the MMS staff in May 2011. "My image of a school is a loving, caring, and comfortable environment, which fosters children’s independence and growth as individuals. It is a place where students’ differences and interests are embraced. A school is a place full of teachers who are passionate about helping children learn and grow. It is a place where children are allowed and encouraged to explore and learn more about the world they live in. A school is a place where not only do the parents and teachers teach the children; the children also teach e the teachers and parents. A school is a place of learning, laughter, and love."
Corinne Till ... Joined the MMS staff in May 2003. "To attempt explaining the intricacies of a child’s learning process is no simple matter. The child, much like an adult, encompasses a wide variety of aspects that connect together as a whole. So, to say children have 100 languages or more, truly captures how children learn. They are always actively searching to make connections and form further knowledge. Each child learns in many ways both as an initiator and as an observer. You see evidence of this in their work both creatively as well as intellectually. "
Elise Jahnke ... Joined the MMS staff in March 2009. "I find children to be some of the most creative, energetic, curious, honest and humorous individuals I’ve ever met. I feel that these qualities help them in developing the tools and skills that they need to be in a constant state of learning. It is my belief that we as teachers are here to help encourage that learning and growth as it takes place, without discouraging the ideas and expressions that the children provide. They are bright, competent and unique individuals with an immense capacity for exploring and learning about the world around them, through the experiences that they have on their own, as well as those that they share with others. It is for the reason that it is so important that they be provided with a warm, loving, open and creative environment in which they can flourish and expand their knowledge and the way they view the world around them."
Emily Bowman ... Joined the MMS staff in March 2012. My image of a child is not singular, but rather it is a collage of many parts. Much like how a quilt is made from hundreds of tiny cloth pieces, I feel a child is made from the many experiences that touch their life.
Children are sincere and enjoy sharing their discoveries just as much as learning from them. As an observer, I see children constantly expanding and redefining their awareness of the world. I enjoy this process of seeing their experiences interact and multiply with one another, each affecting the next. As a co-learner, I participate in the children’s journeys and investigations. The steps within their learning are just as vital as the intended information.
My image of the child is measureless because their experiences should never end. As an adult, I add to my own quilt of knowledge and every day I am inspired by this shared journey.
Gina Heldberg ... Joined the MMS staff in October 2009. "I have the pleasure of being a teacher as well as a parent at MacDonald Montessori. I believe as parents we must be co-learners with our children. Our children are eager to show us their view of the world and as parents we must be eager to share in their experience. We must be an active participant and share in their joyful learning. As partners we are the encyclopedia for the world and we must be willing to explore with them. I believe as parents, we are also co-teachers with their classrooms. We are partners with their teachers and must have an open and honest communication. Together with their teachers we are the most active participants in the learning. ."
Jen Backes ... Joined the MMS staff in September 2009. "I believe each child is a unique individual. They have their own talents, strengths, and challenges to face. Every child has his or her own ways of learning, which, however unconventional I believe each child is a unique individual. They have their own talents, strengths, and challenges to face. Every child has his or her own ways of learning, which, however unconventional they may seem to an adult, lead them into new worlds of knowledge. I believe a child’s ideas are powerful and can teach us so many meaningful things about our surroundings. Children remind us that there is so much potential around us, if we only take on different perspectives. A child is born with endless ideas to be shared and nurtured. They have endless possibilities for the world around them, and endless creativity to make those possibilities into realities. As a teacher, I view the child as a co-researcher; someone whose ideas are deserving of respect, value and incorporation into each day in our classroom. Children are deserving of control and independence, worthy of love and admiration, and can do anything they set their minds to."
Jenna Henderson ... Joined the MMS staff in February 2011. "A school is a place where children, parents, and teachers come together as a community to learn, discover and create. It is a place where a child’s imagination can run free while exploring their surroundings. It is where a child’s thoughts and ideas are incorporated into the everyday learning of the classroom. School is a place to develop relationships, to grow and to have fun!"
Jenna Franke ... Joined the MMS staff in September 2011. I believe that a school should be a welcoming place where staff, parents and children work together as a collaborative team. As a result strong relationships can be built in this environment. By building a classroom community a child will feel comfortable to explore and learn things every day. A school should provide the opportunity for a students strengths and individual qualities to be showcased in the classroom. Each student, family and staff member can learn something new from learning more about each other’s lives, experiences and interests. Working together as a collaborative team gives our students the tools and opportunities to reach their highest potential.
Jenny Sinesio ... Joined the MMS staff in January 2008. "I believe children learn through play and the explorations of materials in their environment. Children learn through their interactions with others including peers, adults and other living things. I feel children learn through their experiences and interactions with the world around them. The role of the teacher is to provide children with the least restrictive environment that fosters learning and allows children to explore the world in a place they feel safe and secure. The teacher’s role is to provide guidance that encourages children to explore things in new and different ways. It is the teacher’s responsibility to be an active observer of the children. This will help the teacher to better understand the children’s interests within their classroom. This way the teacher is equipped to provide activities and materials that expand on the children’s interests and previous knowledge. I am committed to being an advocate of children and to improving education for all young children. I believe early childhood education is extremely important because it is where the groundwork is laid for a good educational experience and to create life long learners."
Joni Reynolds ... Joined the MMS staff in June 1999. "MacDonald Montessori is not just a place for children to be looked after but a place that reveals children’s riches in searching for knowledge-a place that gives children many opportunities to reveal these riches through the many languages they posses. It is a place that gives credit to children for thinking. It is a place where children have rights and must be respected as people. It is a place that does not think of children in terms of what they are not able to do, but thinks of them it terms of what they can do and tries to see wonder of the world through their eyes. "
Karen Potyondy ... Joined the MMS staff in August 2007. "A school is a place of interactions, where parents, teachers and children all interact with each other along with the environment. The environment not only stimulates play it also engages discovery and research. The environment is not only aesthetically pleasing it is carefully thought out to engage the participant. The child generates hypotheses daily, it is the teacher and parents right to help guide the child to an answer. As the child embarks on the journey to understand, teachers encourage children to communicate, learn, and wonder using the aid of "symbolic languages." (ex. drawing, painting, sculpture, dance, music, writing). Parents are partners and bring many gifts and wisdom to the school. Together we work to form one community that sees all children as powerful individuals."
Katrina McMahon ... Joined the MMS staff in May 2011. "My image of a child is that they are very free and open to see things that adults sometimes do not see. They explore everything around them and discover what is unknown with an open mind and a great imagination. Their imaginations can lead to a wide range of learning and creating new things. Children like to test the waters with everything. They explore and try new things to figure out how the world works and to see what they are capable of doing or what they are even allowed to do. This is a great thing to observe and see when a child discovers something, to watch the process taking place, seeing them thinking and then some sort of discovery in their faces and body movement. I think children should always be encouraged to explore and use their minds to go their own unique ways and to not only teach themselves at times but also teach the other children around them as well. Children should be encouraged to imagine and create whatever it is they dream of. "
Kelly Kritsberg ... Joined the MMS staff in April 2004. "At the heart of every school is an image of the child. I believe our school has a strong image of the child. Children play a unique role in our daily lives here at MacDonald Montessori. Children are full of potential-competent and capable of developing their own theories. Along with the teachers, the children can co-construct their knowledge to develop a unique bond and open doors to new possibilities. The image of a child is displayed on a daily basis through the teacher’s documentation. Documentation is the children’s and teacher’s daily experiences and on-going projects that gives meaning and identity to all we do."
Leah Golden ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2009. "A child is a collector. Personal experiences and relationships in their environment make up their collection. The child is capable of using many languages to gather and organize their collected work. The child naturally explores, discovers, learns and communicates ideas. A school is very important to a child. It is a place they can belong and learn. The environment is set for them to have access to the knowledge and materials they need to learn. "
Lori Scottrussel ... Joined the MMS staff in October 2007. "A school is defined as an institution for the instruction of children. On its basic level, I guess one could agree with that definition. My image of the school goes much deeper than that. In a school, learning happens not only for the children within its walls but also for every person who steps through its doors. A school is a community that is welcoming to all who choose to be part of it. A school is a combination of many different people with many different skills who work together towards providing a safe environment and endless opportunities for the people who pass through. A school bears the responsibility to instil a lifelong passion of learning, for learning is what keeps us develop as a society. A school is much more than an institution for the instruction of children. It is a philosophy that all, children and adults alike, have the right to experience."
Lori Marx ... Joined the MMS staff in October 2010. "Most people think a child is one that is incompetent, weak-minded and lacks communication skills. A child to me is someone that has an open mind and is ready to take on challenges, which will enhance their literacy, physical and emotional self. Children are what we make them, but want to be accepted and noticed. They are accepting of others and do not discriminate. Children are creative, but love to be mentally stimulated. A child brings excitement and happiness into any room and when they are provided open arms and a positive atmosphere, their growth is endless!"
Madeline Crew ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2012. My image of a school is one that supports each child to take their own path. Each child deserves to have his or her own specific interests and be guided to follow their path, while learning to work as a group. A school where children are people, not numbers or clusters of easily placed labels and cliches. A place where the teachers are flexible to sway in one direction or the other; following the children’s interests. Most importantly, a place that is safe for them to grow, learn and make mistakes. It is place where the teachers love each child as if they were their own. “ It is easier to get some one to take of their jacket with the sun, rather than with the wind.”
Majken Elsberry ... Joined the MMS staff in May 2011. "I find that my image of the child changes much like they do. It’s continually growing and developing. Each child has his or her own experiences, opinions and ideas that further my love and understanding for children. It’s gratifying being able to spend my time with individuals that I am constantly learning from. Children approach life in such a joyful way. If it’s scorching hot they can’t wait to run through sprinklers. If it’s freezing cold they will jump at the opportunity to build snow forts. I love that children are happy explorers ready to take on the world. I find their enthusiasm and curiosity infectious. I am blessed that I am surrounded by people who are filled with such optimism. Each day brings more thrills and more opportunities- and I can’t wait for tomorrow!"
Mallory Swanson ... A child is a free spirit who is eager to discover the world that surrounds them. In providing them with independence and support, a child is able to grow and learn through their endless imagination, curiosity, their adventures, and exploration. With each child’s exploration varying from one another, these simple, yet special discoveries help to shape each individual child. How enjoyable it is to watch these young individuals learn from great curiosity and continual exploration to piece together the world around them.
Mark Sorvari ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2012. Schools are microcosms where we can communicate, develop, discover, share, build, listen, dream, learn, explore, and teach one another. School is community, family, friend, mother, father, brother, and sister. It is a place where we feel safe and free, a place that we take from and give to. It is where we can discover dreams and bring them to life - the spark that starts the fire.
At school we learn to respect, help, and support one another. We discover the many different ways in which we can communicate and express ourselves. It stimulates our senses, our minds, our hearts, and opens our eyes to a ideas, opinions, and methods.
It is a vehicle, a bridge, a road that helps us get where we're going.
Megan Kittleson ... Joined the MMS staff in July 2012. My image of a parent is someone that provides a safe, nurturing, and positive home atmosphere for their child to help them with their biological, social, psychological and emotional growth. A parent is someone that helps teach their child family traditions, and why they are important. A parent is someone that loves to be involved in all aspects of their child’s life. A parent is someone that can be silly, but still has boundaries and routine. Most importantly, a parent is child based.
Missy Hayes ... Joined the MMS staff in November 2010."I believe that children are our greatest resource in exploring creative ways to problem solve, as well as enriching our society and future. Exploring the classroom as a co-learner along with the children gives me passion and makes me excited to be in the classroom each day. My favorite thing about our school is witnessing first hand the many unique creative processes that children take through their own discovery of the world; it is truly inspiring. Collaboration between students, parents, and teachers provides an open dialogue so that we can continue to improve and develop an incredible learning environment. Through encouragement and nurturing new ideas, we can create a place where all children feel that they are capable of whatever they put their minds to."
Molly Rader ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2012. Pablo Picasso once said “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” When I imagine a child I see a person who sees the world through a lens that has not been cluttered by the limits of the adult world. To a child, anything is possible, a simple object can be transformed into whatever the child can imagine. When a child holds a paintbrush in their hands, their goal is not to create a famous masterpiece, but to express the world that they imagine. My image of a child is like picturing a blank canvas, waiting to be filled by the wonders of the world that they discover each day.
Monica Malley ... Joined the MMS staff in May 2007. "Children are rare and precious. I see them as investigators and researchers, desiring to understand. They are in a raw state, ready to adapt at any moment. They bring an honesty and realness to interactions, never holding back. They are listeners, even when we don’t think they are. They are confident artists, seeing beauty in all they create with an open mind, not seeking perfection. They see fresh possibilities and potential in daily encounters. They find delight in the moment, catching important details. Children are strong and competent. All children have the right to learn, to be in a school that welcomes people of all cultures and backgrounds. They deserve an intentional environment that brings joy, that challenges, and comforts, a place where they are encouraged, accepted, and listened to. Children remind me to not take life too seriously and to be spontaneous."
Naomi Botchway ... Joined MMS in August 2004. "My image of a parent one who supports positive self-esteem and I think this is the greatest ‘gift’ a parent can give a child. A strong healthy self-esteem opens the world and all dreams. Learning to accept yourself as you are with these essential values:
-Develop discipline and support in a positive way
-Acknowledge in every small achievement and give to every small achievement;
-Have confidence in one’s own self and your ability to solve problems, make decisions, and to encourage positive personal growth;
-To think for yourself and to have a creative thought process that will carry over into any area later.
-To be free enough to become anything at all in a positive direction. "
Nicole Kitzhaber ... Joined the MMS staff in April 2012. Children are amazing for so many reasons. They are not accustomed to social norms nor do they worry about how they should act; children let their true selves shine through at all times. We can teach children how to behave or how to use their words in the right ways but we can also learn so much from them. We can learn their unspoken language of how to be creative, how to have fun, and how to build relationships. As a teacher, I hope to learn these things from children and also teach them how to channel their creative energy, have fun doing tasks that are necessary for independence, and how to respectively collaborate with others to make their relationships last.
Rebbca Saide ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2012. A school is a community where children come to nurture their imagination. It is the foundation to every child’s education where teachers are the branches that support the growth of their students. A school is also a safe environment for children to freely express themselves and a place to explore their interests. Knowledge is easily accessible and amazing bonds are created through the mutual love of learning. A school can be any place where there are people that are willing to learn and share their experiences. There does not have to be a physical building for one to call it a school. As long as there is love, support, and an eager audience anywhere can become a perfect learning environment.
Robyn Spicer ... Joined the MMS staff in August 1999. "A School is a place where many relationships and possibilities exist. Its identity should be personally reflective of those who inhabit it. Participation should be valued as children, parents and teachers collaborate and learn from each other by sharing their unique talents. As teachers, it is our responsibility to be careful observers and listen to the children’s verbal and non-verbal cues in order to discover and follow their interests. Documenting gives visibility to the children’s work and helps us understand the processes of the children’s learning. Revisiting and reviewing documentation together is both an opportunity for the professional development of the teacher and can help assist them in deciding which way to go next with the children. Children should be given ample opportunities to express themselves through rich meaningful experiences with music and movement, storytelling, dramatic play, art, block construction, etc. I feel that inviting children to experience these different “languages” will help them to develop relationships and communicate their thoughts and understanding of the world around them. "
Sara Schulte ... Joined the MMS staff in October 2006. "A child is an active learner ready for new experiences full of wonder and surprises. A child is a citizen of today with rights that are current and not being prepared to be future citizens. A child is a communicator of ideas, both verbally and non-verbally. A child is an observer of their surroundings from a very early age. A child is a teacher showing us that there are many ways of learning. A child is full of potential-competent and capable of building their own theories. A child is a researcher, curious ready to ask questions to learn new things. A child is a creator, using the tools of the many languages of music, imagination, painting, drawing, and sculpture. "
Tiffany Neibaur ... Joined the MMS staff August 2010. "My image of a school is a place where:
-Children are free to be themselves and experience new things every day.
-Learning is a collaboration between teachers and children
-Parents and teachers work together to create a continuous, comforting, and supportive environment for children to explore and learn.
-Children are encouraged to say what they think and are respected for every question, idea, and opinion."
Tiffany Connelly ... Joined the MMS staff in June 2009. "To be a parent is to:
-Make a commitment for the rest of your life
-Protect them for as long as they need it.
-Be there for them though good and bad.
-Love them, but not spoil them.
-Teach them wisely about being polite and having respect for others
-Take time out of your busy week to have fun with them.
-Teach them things throughout their life.
-Tell them stories about you growing up (the funnier the better).
-Give them rules around the house to prepare them for the future.
-Build their confidence up when it is low
-Teach them that doing their very best is the most important thing.
-Give them a good solid background in faith
-Teach them about nature and to respect it.
-Teach them to have compassion and not to label people quickly.
-Know that your children will want to test their independence
-Know when to let your children go and become independent. "
Victoria Okwabi ... Joined the MMS staff in April 2003. "Children use his their minds to research and analyze things around them. A child explores by observing and watching others. Children are educators, collecting information and ideas from their parents, teachers and friends, and use them to explore their world and surroundings. They always try to fit into the society and have nothing to be afraid of, while they manipulate with new objects. Children use sign language and hands to express themselves as they grow. A child uses manufactured and natural materials to create things to play with, as they learn through performing. "
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