Journal Entry

Meet June George: Training experience comes from respect for Montessori

Running a Montessori school in South Dakota helps to inform growth at HGE

As a 15-year-old growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, June George knew matter-of-factly that she wanted someday to work with children.

“My family valued education very much,” says June, who works at Higher Ground today as a developer and coach for classroom guides. “My mother always told me, ‘The only thing I can give you — that which you will have the rest of your life — is education.’ I remember after school, my sister and I would have extra curriculums, and my mom would just sit in the car and wait for hours and hours while we were in class.”

June says her mother was a nurse and didn’t want her daughters to follow the same path. Instead, her mother would say emphatically that she had nothing to give — except a good education.

“She helped me to realize that education is the key to everything in our life,” June says. “And now, I understand that’s why I want to work with younger children, because that’s the foundation. At that age, children become whomever they want to be. Even by the age of five, you can clearly see their personality, and you already know who they will become. That’s why I want to work with younger children — I want to be the one who helps them, because I can see how big the impact will be.”

Today, her impact is beyond magnanimous. For over ten years now, June and her husband, Bobby George, have run Baan Dek Montessori, the first and only AMI accredited Montessori school in the state of South Dakota. It’s there where she greets the children at the door every morning with a smile. She knows their personalities, their families, and whichever work they enjoy most in the classroom. She revels in the opportunity to watch them grow and to be part of the impact that will shape whomever they will become. She’s there, a part of all of it, just as she envisioned as a child herself.

But she has close and personal relationships with the teachers at the school, too, and that means a lot to her.

“We talk every morning, we have meetings on Fridays, and I know all of these people,” June says. “I have a relationship with everyone on staff, and we have built a trust with each other!” 

The relationships at Baan Dek not only inform her work on the Prepared Montessorian team at Higher Ground, they inspire her to be her best as a coach and support system for others.

“To be able to train people, you have to feel qualified and that you have enough true knowledge to help people,” June says. “I have now made that a goal of my life, to become qualified enough and to be prepared. You have to work for it, to be qualified enough to train somebody, and I revel in it.”

Most of June’s trainings are online, with multiple teachers at once, but it’s important to her that she makes time for personal connections.

“I like to sign in ten minutes early, so I can see all the faces and have a chit chat. I like to familiarize myself with them!” June says.

It’s also important to her that the trainings are more than a conversation, but that connections to experiences can be made.

“I grew up in a traditional system of education, where you had to do the homework and memorize things, but when you are done with the test, you never remember anything!” she says. “With Montessori, everything is all about understanding. And what I like about Montessori is that it depends on the individual person, too. In adult learning, you have to want it first. We all learn differently!”

From children in the classroom to guides among the students and even herself, June is making an impact.

“Higher Ground is doing wonderful things in trying to help teachers,” she says. “I think that kind of support is wonderful.”

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