What inspires you about education?
I truly believe that education is the key to creating communities of people who care about each other, care about our collective future and learn from our past.
The problems we are facing today will not be the same problems our children will face in the future, so we need to give them the skills to think critically, ask questions and problem solve without fear of making mistakes. We all make mistakes, but if we reflect, tweak our approach and try again, that is the result of a high-fidelity education.
How did you discover Montessori?
When my daughter was three years old, I started looking around for a preschool for her to attend. I must have toured 10 different schools and none of them quite felt right. Then one day, I was talking to my dad and he said, “Why don’t you find her a nice little Montessori school.”
I really had no idea what that meant, but I started searching and discovered there was a Montessori school about 6 blocks from my house that I didn’t even know existed. From the first day I walked in, I was hooked; I discovered that what I was naturally doing at home as a parent and how I was managing my colleagues as a business executive was an educational approach called Montessori.
Since then, I changed careers, completed my Montessori certification, guided hundreds of three- to six-year-olds (and their parents!), worked as a teacher trainer and practicum advisor, delivered Montessori workshops, and lead a community as a Head of School.
In 2017, I was thrilled to join the Higher Ground team as we together work to support our network of schools to mainstream and modernize Montessori.
How does Montessori philosophy inspire your daily life?
I am a true believer that, as adults, we are responsible for creating "prepared environments" for our colleagues. As a Senior Director of School Success, much of my day is spent supporting our school leaders on the path to independence and autonomy. Much like when we give the child a Montessori lesson and then step away to let them focus and work independently, the same methodology is applied everyday with the teams that work at our schools.
We provide training and coaching and set the stage for each adult to be successful on their own timeline. The overarching message is, “I am here in the background if you need me, but I have confidence that you are capable of trying, practicing, and asking for help when you need it."
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say the children are now working as if I did not exist."
I have lived these moments with both teaching adults and children, and it is truly rewarding when you get to be a part of someone’s growth and development that they have taken ownership of and find joy in their own personal journey.
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?
Over the past two years, I’ve had the good fortune to meet many, many talented and passionate people who are also looking to spread Montessori -- not as an alternative, but as THE choice for education.
These are not just the “true believers” who are already part of the established Montessori community, these are our school neighbors, our local city councils, our real estate agents, our chambers of commerce members, our construction crews and even the janitors who clean our schools. As we continue to open more schools, I love meeting and connecting with the next community of Montessori ambassadors.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
This is an interesting question, because I’ve had experience working both in the business world and in independent Montessori schools. One of the things that is starkly different is that each person working for Higher Ground has a strong bent toward continual learning and growing as part of their core. As we work together, we openly question and discuss questions like, “Well, that went better than last time, but how can we improve it for next time?” and, "That is an interesting idea, how will that impact the child and parent experience at our schools?”
Because our culture is one of transparency and feedback, we can give and receive it freely and truly view collaboration as an opportunity for vulnerability that leads to growth.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
In addition to really loving meaningful, challenging work, I am passionate about relaxing and having fun as well. I love traveling with my husband and daughter with almost no plans in place other than tickets, a hotel reservation and a good book. As a life-long Chicagoan, I am passionate about eking out the most of the non-winter seasons and can often be found running or biking or generally doing anything outside once the snow melts.