Tell us about yourself.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have known that I wanted to be an educator. I began my career as a traditional high school and middle school teacher in a variety of settings (public, private, gifted).
During those years, I was searching for a methodology that truly served the children and was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the current system. Discovering Montessori was a turning point for me; without Montessori, I might very well have left the field of education altogether.
My current focus at Higher Ground is on our elementary program: creating curriculum (particularly in literature), as well as teacher training and professional development. I have discovered that I love supporting adults in their learning and growth just as much as I do with children!
What inspires you about education?
Well, it’s really what inspires me about human beings, and that is: potential. Who knows what amazing potential lies within each child, what he might go on to create, to solve, to master, to build, to discover, to explore?
It’s so rewarding to work within an educational pedagogy that supports each child in reaching his own unique potential. In fact, one of the Montessori titles that first piqued my interest is called "To Educate the Human Potential."
How did you discover Montessori?
Well, I was searching for answers to real problems I encountered in the classroom, problems that could not be solved within the traditional approach to education.
So, I discovered Montessori through her writings, at the library. But I experienced my “a-ha” moment the first time I observed in a Montessori elementary classroom. I arrived early in the morning, when the children were just starting to trickle in, and the teacher was still in the staff room down the hall, preparing for the day. What I saw amazed me!
These 6- to 9-year-olds arrived in the classroom, hung up their jackets, washed their hands, greeted their peers, and …. started taking the learning materials off the shelves to begin their work! Now, by that point in time, I had been teaching for a number of years and had reached some measure of effectiveness: my students were engaged, cooperative, even eager. But I had NEVER experienced children who chose to begin their work before the day started, before the teacher even arrived. I thought to myself: Something truly special is going on here. I have to find out what it is!
Twenty years later, I'm still growing in my appreciation for the power of the Montessori philosophy to motivate young learners.
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote?
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 11)
Why did you help start Higher Ground?
Higher Ground offered me an incredible opportunity to pursue a mission to which I am deeply committed, and to work with people whom I greatly admire and respect. In particular, I have had the good fortune to work with our CEO, Ray Girn, for over 15 years. He never ceases to inspire me with his vision, his ingenuity, and his unflappable can-do spirit. So, for me, the decision to join the founding team was an easy one!
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
My wonderful husband and children fill my life with joy and intellectual discovery. I love the outdoors and am fortunate to call Southern California my home. In my spare time, I can be found running, hiking, biking, swimming, or at the beach! I am also a passionate reader (especially of children’s literature), so when you meet me, you’d better be prepared to answer the question, “Have you read anything great lately?”