Director of School Success

Sam Sharp

Bio

Sam Sharp

Since graduation from the University of Western Ontario, Ms. Sharp has been actively engaged in education.

She completed both primary and elementary Montessori teaching credentials at the MACTE-accredited Toronto Montessori Institute and is certified to teach Montessori to ages 3 to 12. Following her certification, Ms. Sharp held teaching positions as a lead Guide in Toronto; Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Solana Beach, Calif.; Livermore, Calif.; and Santa Monica, Calif. In her work with various age groups, she honed her skills and became a guide to other guides as they translated what they had learned in their training to their classroom practice.

After leaving the classroom, Ms. Sharp moved into roles supporting guides in the early years of their teaching with lesson planning, parent communication, managing challenging behaviors, lesson planning, and classroom management. She also taught the language component of the lower elementary teacher training for prospective guides at the Montessori Western Teacher Training Institute.

While taking several years away from Montessori to raise her four children, Ms. Sharp began and operated a successful event management business, but she felt the tug and returned to Montessori education.

In 2016, Ms. Sharp joined Higher Ground Education as the founding Head of School for Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree in Raleigh, N.C. During her time there, she grew the school to well over 100 students while hiring and managing the guides to support their professional growth in a way that was both fulfilling to them and supportive of the students. Today, she serves as the Director of School Success for Higher Ground, working closely with many schools and their leadership teams to guide their success. She applies the lessons she learned from her experiences to fulfill the mission of spreading high-quality, high-fidelity Montessori education to more children.

My Story

Learn more about Sam.

  • Tell us about yourself.

    My proudest accomplishment is that I have four boys spread across their late teens and early 20s. They are each unique in their personalities and passion, though they are all resilient and independent-minded as they move into adulthood.

    I am a Canadian who has lived in the U.S. for most of my adult, professional life. I grew up in Toronto and traveled the world extensively with my family. After completing an Honors BA in History and Political Science at The University of Western Ontario, I went on to take my certification in Primary and Elementary Montessori education at the MACTE certified Toronto Montessori Institute. After a year in a lower elementary classroom in Toronto, I moved to California, where I taught primary and elementary in Montessori schools in Manhattan Beach, the San Diego area, the bay area and Santa Monica. During this time, I also held roles where I was working to support new guides as they entered the classroom for the first years as guides. I loved being able to support them as they put into practice lessons learned in classroom management, lesson planning, parent communication, managing challenging behavior, and students who function outside of expected norms.

    I taught for two summers at the Montessori Western Teacher Training Program in Southern California to instruct and inspire guides in training in the Montessori method as it pertains to language (reading/writing) in the lower elementary classroom. Helping these trainees understand the materials in a way that provides them a solid understanding of the curriculum, while also connecting to the underlaying pedagogy, was really exciting. As they grew in their confidence of the curriculum and the "why" behind it, I loved to see how they would become creative in discussions about extensions and individualizing the lessons to meet children where they are.

    Time off to spend with my children as they were young gave me an opportunity to help to develop a process-based art program that wove in exposure to some of the masters in the art world. This was implemented by a team of volunteers I trained in the Westport, CT, elementary schools.

    When I was ready to re-engage in Montessori full time, I took on the leadership of Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree in Raleigh, N.C. As the founding HOS for this new school, I managed the hiring, training, enrollment, and establishing a thriving parent and staff culture of engagement in Montessori for this community. As the school grew and began to function successfully with the systems put into place, I transitioned to the role of a Director of School Success.

    In the role of DSS, I have truly found my passion. I am able to support several schools at a time, working directly with the HOS as a thought partner and manager to help them reach their goals. Seeing them grow as leaders and seeing their school thrive is amazing. As they gain confidence, judgement, and experience, I am able to step back increasingly and provide support as needed that matches their level of independence as a school leader. It is an extension of the Montessori concept of classroom normalization: "The children are now working as if I did not exist."

  • What inspires you about education?

    When I finished university with a degree that led to a clear path outlining my next steps, I fell into a Montessori training course as a possibility for my future rather than a clear passion I was aware of at the time. During my own training, I had an incredible awakening of a latent desire to learn more about how to connect with children in a way that could impact their life long beyond my time with them. I actually understood the underlying concepts of math I had been doing according to a formula for the first time.

    As a student who struggled herself in math, this was a real light bulb moment. I was hooked. I continue to be amazed at the idea that we can guide a child to realize their own potential as successful, self-directed humans more than vessels we can fill with the knowledge we determine they need to be successful.

    With my own children, having raised them in a Montessori inspired household, I can see how much more prepared they are than many of their peers to face the challenges and opportunities of their young adult lives. Helping other parents give their children exposure to Montessori at school and then educating them on how to implement the pedagogy at home to double the impact for their child is a personal mission.

  • How does Montessori philosophy inspire your daily life?

    As a parent, it inspired how I raised my own children. As a human, it has given me a strong sense of grace and courtesy that I hope I am carrying into every daily interaction I have. I look for ways to inspire others to find and achieve their goals and not get stuck in what I (or societal norms) think they should do. I ask a lot of "why" questions to dig into a deeper understanding of a person's motivators. I am now more of a keen observer of human behavior and life as a result of learning to flex that muscle as a Montessorian.

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

    I have been afforded the opportunity to be inspired and supported by others. I have been given the opportunity to try new things. With each new thing, I have had varying degrees of success. Each one of these has been an opportunity for growth and reflection, never judgment or reproach.

    This has inspired me to feel a new confidence and commitment to take this growth mindset and feel like the possibilities are endless for me and for Higher Ground. Working with others who inspire me and of whom I am frequently in awe of makes each day a new opportunity. I love what I do and the people I work with.

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

    Collaboration: Every person in the organization makes my ideas better or finds a weakness in a plan I had not considered. This spirit of transparency and "putting our heads together" to solve problems is empowering.

    Friendliness with error: Though we want everything we do to be a resounding success, we are not afraid to try something just because success is not guaranteed. We are honest in our self-reflection and use each of these moments as an opportunity to pivot and grow, not to beat ourselves up.

  • What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?

    Running: I love to run single track trails in the woods of Chapel Hill, N.C., where I live. After time away from this, I am always reminded how much I love it and how it is not only good for fitness, but for my mind and soul.

    Spending time with my family: As my children get older, the conversations and activities are more precious. These moments are golden and have taken on this amazing quality of less direct parenting than learning about them in profound ways. I am continually amazed by the adults they are becoming. I cannot wait to see what is next for all of them. Though success will look different for each of them, it will be theirs to discover, and I have no doubt they will each find their way.

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