Community Specialist

Jenna Wawrzyniec

Bio

Jenna Wawrzyniec

Ms. Wawrzyniec is a trained journalist and communications strategist with a degree in journalism from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Her professional career has included experience on both sides of the media spectrum, from working as a reporter for print publications to managing and consulting on public relations for nonprofits.

She discovered her passion for Montessori when she became a mother to two children and saw its impact in the home environment, even before schooling began. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, photography, and spending quality time with her family.

My Story

Learn more about Jenna.

  • Tell us about yourself.

    It is hard for me to answer this question because I am so used to being the one to pose this question. I have been attempting to interview people ever sine I was a little girl, producing my own hand-written binders of stories. Writing is my longest-held passion in life, and I always knew it's what I wanted to do professionally. I hold a Bachelor's in Journalism and worked in a newsroom at the start of my career, but as I have grown and welcomed new passions into my life, my writing has evolved beyond the newsroom.

    I'm a proud military spouse and new mother raising two children away from family, moving every few years per the Navy's needs. Through this transient experience, I've quickly come to realize the importance of community, and the role that storytelling has in bridging our lives so that we may learn and grow together.

    When I am not writing or working to build community in this new role with Higher Ground, I am most likely dancing in my living room (former ballerina), attempting to decorate with home projects, or experimenting with photography. I enjoy anything that challenges me creatively.

  • How did you discover Montessori?

    I discovered Montessori as a fragile new mom, long before our education journey began. I had just given birth to my second child and was in search of guidance to help me graduate "survival mode" with two under two. After I picked up a few books on Montessori and how it can work at home, I was immediately enthralled and dove into rallying as many resources as I could find. When I saw firsthand how meaningful these changes were in my children's day to day, I was hooked.

    What initially felt like an intimidating learning curve has now become my most motivating and calming source of support. I've since realized that Montessori is far more accessible and approachable than most families realize – and even though it is a formal path to education, it is a holistic path that has directly empowered my parenting.

  • How does Montessori inspire your daily life?

    Montessori inspires me to form a meaningful, respectful relationship with my children that goes far beyond acquiring academic knowledge. It is a connection I work on actively each day by choosing to respect their autonomy and trust their capability.

    Learning to let my children lead has helped me observe them more and interfere less, which is an active practice that has changed the course of our relationship. It is not my duty to mold my children or hurry them along to my way of thinking. It is my duty to empower my children and slow down to better understand their way of thinking. I always intended to do this, but it took some self-reflection and patience to realize it was easier to under-estimate children than it was to truly trust them. Montessori helped me see the potential I was overlooking within my children, as well as within myself.

  • Do you have a favorite Montessori quote or book?

    There are so many powerful quotes, but the one that stopped me in my tracks is one of the first passages I ever read with the beginner book, "How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way":

    “Children who are treated with respect and who are encouraged to try new skills learn more readily to do things for themselves. Montessori taught that a child who feels respected and competent will develop a greater level of emotional well-being than a child who is simply loved and doted upon.”

    These are simple words, but they impacted me deeply. I realized how important it is to respect my children not just by loving them, but by seeing them as the whole, capable, independent individuals they were.

  • What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?

    It is easy to view Montessori as this exclusive, minority community, but Higher Ground has opened my eyes to just how inclusive and far-reaching the global Montessori community has become today. It excites me to see Montessorians and non-Montessorians alike uniting on this larger vision to elevate the educational experience and bring Montessori's century-old method to the forefront.

    Through joining this community more intentionally, I've also been humbled and inspired by the peace that truly radiates from the Montessori movement. In a time when it feels like we are surrounded by conflict, and when parenting in itself can feel divisive, this peaceful path is refreshing. The grace and courtesy we expect of our children starts with us as the adults. When a whole community leads with these values, it sparks a level of collaboration and connection that will grow to move mountains.

  • What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?

    Joining the Community Team within Higher Ground has been a dream where I have been able to merge my three greatest passions of storytelling, community-building, and Montessori learning. The team is comprised of passionate, creative thinkers and doers who challenge me to grow personally and professionally, which is incredibly fulfilling.

    I appreciate that our team is diverse with people joining from all walks of life, all parts of the world, cohesively rallied around one mission to mainstream and modernize Montessori education. It is clear that the people who've joined the team are not just here because of their unique expertise and skills, but because they, too, are driven by a shared passion for Montessori education. It is impossible to not feel energized by this!

  • What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?

    I am very lucky that the time and energy I devote to work fulfills my specific love of writing, community-building and Montessori. My next comparable passion is simply spending quality time with my family. My children are ages 3 and 2, and so finding time to do nothing more but be present with them fills my cup greatly. Getting to see the world all over again through the eyes of a young child is nothing short of fascinating and endearing. I, admittedly and whole-heartedly, love being "just" mom, and I truly find parenthood to be one of the greatest adventures of my life. Not to get too cheesy, but raising my children is an indescribable passion that energizes me to my soul (okay, and also drains me completely between about 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., too). ????

    And of course, being a military family means travel is a built-in hobby worth embracing. We've gone from Hawaii to Maryland to Texas and have driven cross-country twice. We invest deeply in each place we go knowing that our time is brief, and it has nurtured a love of exploring. We make family bucket lists every season and make sure we carve out time to visit new places and try new foods. It is easy to get set in a comfortable routine with familiar places and faces, but we try to stay curious.

    A newer hobby I've been diving into is learning to cook beyond the basic recipes that got me through my twenties. Likely related to my love of community, I love how food brings people together, and I love trying recipes outside of my comfort zone.

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