Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been in commercial real estate for 20 years. I began in the appraisal and consulting side of the business, then worked with a large investor who was acquiring high-rise office buildings and major resort and hotel projects.
I was doing a lot of the analytic work to support those acquisitions when I quickly realized it wasn’t a good substitute for being passionate about something. The work didn’t excite me, so that’s when I transitioned into the education space and started building charter schools throughout California. I did that for about six years until I went out on my own doing brokerage work and consulting. That’s how I learned about Higher Ground education, doing some consulting work with them. I’ve been at Higher Ground Education for over six months now with the expansion team.
What inspires you about education?
I have been on the real estate side of education for more than a decade now. What captivated me and drew me in to education was that people are really passionate about what they are doing. That’s contagious and inspiring, and when I think about the difference that education made in my personal life, I can see that education is the only way to really implement positive change in the world.
How did you discover Montessori?
I first learned about Montessori education while looking for daycare after I had my son. It wasn't a good fit for our family at the time, but I was always very curious and wanting to learn more, and now I’m learning about Montessori here at Higher Ground.
I have always found Montessori to be a really creative way of empowering young children, in terms of becoming independent and making their own choices. I like how we call teachers “guides.” To me, that speaks to the way Montessori approaches children. In our classrooms, we guide their personal developments and support them in their own journey as they develop their minds and bodies.
How does Montessori inspire your daily life?
Now that my five-year-old son has completed kindergarten, and as I’m learning more about Montessori, I want to take him to a Montessori school! Even taking on this role at Higher Ground has pushed me in different directions in terms of how I think about the priorities around education.
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?
In my professional career, I had always been accustomed to building traditional schools, where the classrooms were a perfect rectangle or square — these perfect boxes where everybody could face the front and look toward the white board.
Here at Higher Ground, we work with the Prepared Environment team to create beauty, structure, and order in a classroom, and not in a perfectly designed box, but in these irregular shaped classrooms. We have a child-focused approach, where we think about the height of furniture and the orientation at which we place things. There is method and order to the way we design buildings here, and it obviously has a positive impact on children.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
The level of talent, passion, energy, and strength on the expansion team is exceptional. I also don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team with this level of honesty. In this environment and culture, we are very open with one another. We do not hold back! But it’s always very productive, non-judgmental, and collaborative. We have a lot of respect for everybody’s opinions, and it’s been so great in terms of growth and development. It has pushed me to different levels, and I find it very motivating to be a part of a team with such talented people.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
Fifteen years ago, I was into Muay Thai kickboxing. I trained on my own in Thailand for a while, and I actually had a real fight in Muay Thai.
It helped me to learn that I’m a fighter at heart, and it speaks to my mentality. I’m results- and goals-driven. I like big ideas, and I like to tackle big projects that seem like impossible tasks.