Journal Entry

Meet Steven Rao: Collaboration, mentorship drives marketing team in China

'We're a family together ... self-motivated, detail-oriented, caring, and responsive'

On the rowing team at the University of Oregon, Steven Rao developed self-discipline, self-motivation and teamwork, all values he passes on to his work today. 

“Sports can really help someone grow,” he says. “It’s a new challenge. If you want to do a trick with snowboarding on a mountain or a hill or in a park, you have to analyze it in your brain. You have to separate the movements.” 

He slowly moves his body as he speaks, as if to make his point. “My head is going to turn this way, my shoulders are going to turn this way, my entire body is going to turn this way. You have to separate every movement.”

The story he tells is a lot like Montessori, how the method helps children break things down, piece by piece, slowing the movements to accelerate the learning, going from a concrete explanation to an abstract understanding.  

“And you are going to fail,” he continues. “You’re going to fall so many times until one time, you get it right and you say, Yes!” 

Children in Montessori experience that, too: The opportunity to practice and the courage to make mistakes, allowing their confidence to grow day by day.  

Steven brings this exact spirit to the marketing team at Guidepost Montessori in China. A consummate professional, he’s extremely respectful of his mentors, highly collaborative with his peers, and he’s always pushing himself to take things one step further. 

“The phenomenon in this company is that we’re a family together,” Steven says. “Everything is connected at Higher ground. Even though we’re a separate office in China, the transparency, chemistry, and value of the organization is carried on just as it is in the central team. Everyone is so self-motivated, detail-oriented, caring and responsive, and it feels like, ‘Hey, these are great people, and I want to be a part of this team.’ ” 

Just like a prepared environment in the Montessori classroom, everyone is open and collaborative, supporting each individual as they participate in a group setting. 

“I wasn’t Montessori educated as a kid, but I really like the Montessori method,” Steven says. “We prepare kids for their future. We live in a huge world, but Montessori shrinks that down in a classroom to a world kids can experience on their own.”

Steven says families in China are still learning about Montessori, and part of his effort is not only to introduce this new pedagogy to students in the classroom but to the parents as well. It’s a learning journey for everyone. 

“A lot of families are searching for a great way to teach their kids, but they’re also just looking for a safe environment, a healthy environment, and a clean environment, and Guidepost has all of that.”

They have Steven’s charisma and loyalty, too. 

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