Tell us about yourself.
I was born on a pirate ship. Well, actually, that's just something my friends would try to get me to say with my fingers pulling the sides of my mouth tightly when I was young and dumber.
The truth is, I share the same birthday as George Washington, my childhood crush Drew Barrymore, and the late Steve Irwin who famously once said, “I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message,” and, ironically, I hold the same view.
I try to regard each day as a new adventure where I get to actually learn something. To me, learning equals failure plus reflection and adaptation. I chose to become a Montessori educator in spite of my education, not because of it, and silently rued all the opportunities I missed as a result of not having been educated in this unique way.
I am the oldest of four siblings. I have one brother (an Irish twin 15 months younger than me) and two sisters, all of whom I adore as people. I was born in Canada and left for adventure to the U.S. of A. in 1998 and have been working in Montessori schools in various roles ever since.
Someday, perhaps, I'll get the infant/toddler training because I have EC, EL 6 to 12 and Secondary and have guided children at each of those levels. I am presently SINKITH (single income no kids in the house) as my own “Montessori kids” are now 19 and 21 years old and off to practicing adulting.
What inspires you about education?
When I think about what inspires me about education, it is that the human spirit prevails in many cases and has great capacity to prevail despite the coercive and strictly performance-based models that dominate the status quo.
How did you discover Montessori?
I discovered Montessori because my partner had already decided to become a Montessori teacher and she was just so happy — I was working at a Staples as an assistant manager to earn income to support her, and was not very happy. She shared the “Absorbent Mind” with me, and I knew after reading it this was something I could dedicate my life to that was much bigger than strict self-interest.
How does Montessori inspire your daily life?
In my daily life, I try to live with a Montessori mindset (what does that mean?) In all things, I am potentially modeling for myself and others how I want the world to be, so I attempt (and fail often) to be impeccable with my thoughts, with my words, be precise and deliberate with my actions, such that I am part of creating the “more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”
Do you have a favorite Montessori quote or book?
My favorite Montessori quote is not very wide-spread or known and pertains more to adults:
“If the prejudices concerning the child are directly and exclusively aimed at, a reform of the adult will accompany it step by step because an obstacle in the adult will have been removed. This reform of the adult is of enormous importance for society as a whole. It represents the reawakening of a part of human consciousness, which has been covering itself progressively with layer upon layer of impediments. Moreover, without this awakening, all other social questions become obscure and the problems raised by them insoluble.” (Basic Ideas of Montessori's Educational Theory, The Forgotten Fellow Citizen, p. 6-7)
What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?
From my time at HGE so far, I have learned I am working with wicked smart people who will only challenge me to be my best, because of a real and genuine belief in what we are attempting — to mainstream and modernize Montessori education.
What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?
What I most enjoy about working with my teammates is that a) they don't mind that sometimes I'm secretly wearing pajama bottoms when I Zoom with them, b) they accept that sometimes I'm going to swear and it is just part of how I amp myself up — it isn't because I lack vocabulary, and c) they are all wicked smart.
What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
In Australia, when they ask you, “What do you do?” they don't mean for work. They mean, how are you an interesting person — what’s your soul dance? (not your survival one — though some people are lucky enough to combine both, and working at HGE might be that). So, I guess what I do for fun is to wear flip-flops in the snowy winter of Minnesota as much as possible.
In addition, I take cold showers almost every day and get the occasional pedicure and always get my nails painted. I am an amazing cook and love to cook for friends and serve them, my second home is often the gym and I do a lot of boxing. I love to dance and go to this thing called Dance Church on Sundays when I'm not traveling for work, as I'm a recovering Catholic turned atheist.