How I was transformed by the power of a Montessori education
Each day in the classroom, under the guidance of our talented teachers, we see how a Montessori education benefits a child in every way. Students are more engaged as learners, explore topics deeply, work at their own pace, learn from their mistakes, become resilient in overcoming obstacles, collaborate effectively as team members, problem solve in real-life contexts, and reach more of their natural academic potential.
Growing up, I did not attend a Montessori school, but I would like to tell you about how Montessori education transformed me, as an adult. When I was named Head of School at Oak Meadow in 2018, I had over 25 years of experience as an administrator and teacher in independent schools. I had served as a Head of School for 12 of those years. Right before I came to Oak Meadow, I was Head of School at a K-12 school, considered a national leader in experiential learning. The educational philosophy there was called the “Immersion Method” and our graduates matriculated to some of the finest colleges in the nation.
I arrived at Oak Meadow with those 25+ years of experience and also a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Columbia University Teachers College. Additionally, my wife and I successfully raised two children who were educated in independent schools. I brought a great deal of experience with children, independent schools, education, teaching, and school leadership to Oak Meadow. But my only exposure to Montessori was through my own individual reading and research.
When the Board of Trustees kindly (and generously) offered to pay for me to go through Montessori training so I could become a certified Montessori Administrator, I jumped at the opportunity. The Administrator program is a 3-year program, and requires almost as much work as a Master’s Degree. I had to devote considerable time during those 3 summers and also many of my weekends and evenings during the school year. It required substantial work and commitment during a time when our school was also facing the rigorous challenge of keeping Oak Meadow open during the COVID pandemic. So while it wasn’t always easy – as nothing worthwhile ever is – it was worth every bit of the work and commitment. It was a privilege to be offered such valuable professional development.
My first course, the Philosophy of Montessori, was truly transformative. It brought a new perspective to everything I already knew about education. Even though I had a quarter of a century of educational experience and an advanced degree, I began to see how Montessori could make me a better teacher and a better Head of School. It also included a dimension that would make me a better person. Montessori also aligns perfectly with Oak Meadow’s important focus on social-emotional learning.
My enthusiasm for Montessori education was noticed by the instructors of my cohort, as I was then asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Montessori Society, an organization through which Oak Meadow earns accreditation. I am in the 2nd year of my 3-year term on the Board, and I have been proud to represent Oak Meadow and our Montessori teachers on a national and international level.
I am “all in” for Montessori. I know from my own personal experience how it can be as transforming to an educator as it is to your child. I feel that my Montessori Administrator Credential is as important and as noteworthy an accomplishment as my graduate degree from Columbia University. I am proud to bring what I learned about Montessori to help lead Oak Meadow in providing the best, most forward-reaching education for our students.