I remember the very first time I stepped into a Montessori Environment. I was touring Intercultural Montessori in Oak Park, IL. I was five months pregnant. The sunlight poured into the East windows, it glistened through plants and the fish tank. Children were walking, playing/working, and speaking Mandarin. They were purposeful and full of concentration. I was like a moth to a flame, I had to know more. I began to read or listen to all of Dr. Montessori's books that I could get my hands on- Education for Peace, The Secret of Childhood, and The Absorbent Mind. I absorbed it all like a sponge.
The most important piece that stood out to me was not only how to observe the children growing and developing, but also asking ourselves the question, "How can I grow too?" "How can I prepare myself spiritually, for the massive undertaking of raising and educating the next generation to inhabit the Earth?" "How can I be a prepared parent?"
After my life epiphany, I left my job as a manager at an International PR company in Chicago and began working in the kitchen at Guidepost Montessori. My beginnings were humble. Having a college degree and private education my whole life, I was told, "You can't be a teacher–they don't make enough money." While this is true, I was fortunate enough to be able to follow my calling, with the financial and emotional support of my husband, Matt. After two years doing dishes, substituting, and working my way up as the "Friends Club Director" and assistant, Matt and I decided it was time to leave the big city and move to a place that reflected our values.
Moving was a path with peaks and valleys, but somehow we found our way to this precious nook, here in Traverse City. My most recent career ventures have been becoming an AMI certified assistant for the Primary and Elementary ages. I have humbly turned down opportunities to become a lead guide because, as an assistant, I can show up every day for these children with a clear head and a clear inbox. Their passions and emotions are my compass and determine my success.
Through the assistant programs, I have learned the essential role of the support adult in the classroom. It is often backbreaking, but always fulfilling. We prepare the environment, repair materials, sweep, dust, mop, sanitize, vacuum, change wet clothes, protect the lessons, and prepare snacks, but we are also the ones the other 24 children in the room turn to when the guide is otherwise engaged. We are the huggers, the band-aid providers, the watchers, and the "guardian angels of concentration." We do this job because we love the children. Parents, the state, academic achievement, and social expectations are not necessarily our number one. Our main focus is the children and their love of being at The Children's House.
I highly encourage all to take an assistant training course, even parents. Not only does it teach you how to be an assistant, but it also inspires you personally to show up for these young humans as best you can.