Journal Entry

Meet Stephanie Jamison: ‘I don’t work for a vision, I become it’

Admissions director for Manhattan Guidepost schools rooted in identity to excel in her work

Maria Montessori once told us, “The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.” 

For many of us, that means seeking and maintaining that which brings us joy, challenge, or achievement. It means striving toward something not to satisfy others, but for our own good. It can mean time, patience, courage, and perseverance. What does the essence of independence mean for you?

Stephanie Jamison is a new member of our Guidepost Montessori team in New York, and for her, independence means the birth of identity — a discovery that has become the start of everything.

“My work is not just work,” she says. “It has to become a part of who I am in this life.” 

A journey toward home

New York City is home for Stephanie — she’s from the Bronx and grew up in the Westchester area — but she comes to Guidepost Montessori from West Palm Beach, Florida, where she served as the marketing director for the Chick-fil-A corporate team. She and her 11-year-old daughter, Faith, lived in Florida for eight years before she felt called to move back home.

“I only met my biological father 11 years ago, and before then, he didn’t know anything about me,” Stephanie shares. “And when I met him, I found out he was a pastor and a leader in the church world. I was automatically a minister’s daughter before I had even refined what my own identity was, like who I was as Stephanie and not what everyone else expected of me. So I left to grow apart from New York. You know, it’s crazy here, and Florida is isolated from the planet!”

Stephanie and her 11-year-old daughter, Faith.

She went to school, started writing and did some work in radio broadcasting. She spent time with her daughter, grounding her and helping her to discover her own identity, too. And, she got to know her dad.

“Today, we’re really close,” Stephanie says. “It didn’t start out that way, but I needed that separation to know who he was in my life. And now, we’re best friends. We travel all over together, and I do a lot of missionary work with him.”

Stephanie travels to Spain, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic to teach, help women, and mentor Hispanic communities.

“I work with interpreters, teaching scripture and helping women figure out who they are outside of their life experiences,” Stephanie says. “And I’ve been able to use not knowing who my father was as a means of sharing with people how important it is to know who you are in order to be successful. It means a lot to me to do that, and it’s become a big part of who I am.”

Along with the missionary travels, her time away from home afforded Stephanie the clarity she needed to move forth steady and confident.

“I needed a clear grasp of who I was just as me by myself,” Stephanie says. “Now that I’m back in New York, I’m a much more secure individual because I know who I am and what I want to be connected to, which is a passion for learning and helping people.”

Gratitude and action

When Stephanie moved back last fall, she felt a pull toward education.

“I had this really strong desire to be at a school,” says Stephanie, who has former admissions experience in higher ed. “I can’t even tell you why, I just knew I loved the teaching setting, no matter the age, so I randomly started applying to different schools.”

Amid her search, she found Guidepost Montessori, and she now serves as the admissions director for our Manhattan campuses.

“I am responsible for getting individuals into the school, and, oh, my gosh, I love it,” she says. “My philosophy is that I don’t work for a vision or in a vision, I become it. So right now, I’m becoming Guidepost. I want to become who we are so that when I’m presenting it to families, it just oozes out of my pores, you know? That’s my mindset when I’m passionate about something.”

She’s selfless in her pursuit to learn.

“I know I could have gotten hired for various jobs out there, but I need a job that’s rooted in something bigger than me,” she says. “I need stuff that’s of substance — I think that’s the only way you can grow actually, being connected to something that’s far beyond who you are.”

She sees that in Montessori.

“The teaching that our students get in our Montessori curriculum is so far beyond what I experienced as a child,” Stephanie says. “Not knowing who my dad was left me vulnerable. I kind of had my innocence stolen from me, starting at the age of three years old, so to now come into these beautiful classrooms, it’s really deep for me. 

“I look at these young children, I look at the guides, and I see how much attention these students are getting — how we’re giving them the freedom to discover who they are and to be a part of our society. What I’m seeing now is an experience I never had as a little girl — I never had an opportunity where someone would sit down and spend time with me like that. But these children do, and that’s so special to me.”

She’s grateful for the opportunity to help children discover their own identity, the way she took the time and energy to do for herself. She’s ready to give back in many ways. 

“I feel like this place is something that’s very unique,” she says. “And I want to share it with families! I also want to show Higher Ground why they hired me, and I feel like the only way to interpret my gratefulness is to produce. I am a woman of action! So that’s my mission.”

To learn more about our Guidepost campuses in the Manhattan area, visit www.guidepostmontessori.com/nyc.

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