I love my job! I get to wander in and out of classrooms every day, talk to little friends, teach a few odd classes here and there, dress up as Typhoid Mary and Queen Isabella and organize teacher workshops, conferences and parties. I get to visit schools throughout Utah and everywhere else I may go. It’s my idea of a very good time to be able to tour a school and discover some of their unique ideas for meeting the needs of their students. Last spring Lina and I visited the Montessori Children’s House in Portland where we saw a wonderful school in a very modern office complex. This summer Lynn, Lina and I visited Seton Montessori near Chicago, one of the most well known schools in the country. This school is composed of three homes in a wooded neighborhood – one is the toddler house, one is early childhood and a delightful walk through the woods takes you to the elementary house. There was lots of space for rabbits and chickens and a pool that was three feet deep so all students could swim confidently. I’ve seen big fancy schools where neither the teachers nor the children were smiling and even the equipment was broken and unhappy-looking. I’ve seen tiny schools in people’s homes where the materials were all home made and everyone was having a wonderful time. I worked in a school where every detail was carefully in it’s place and every rule was followed scrupulously, but the materials were unimaginative, there was no art on the walls, no music in the classroom and no joy in being there every day. I also worked in a school where the building was wonderful, but there was not much money for furnishings and my brick-and-board shelves fell over frequently, but all the parents came happily in wearing their work clothes on weekends and fixed things for us. It was a very warm and supportive place full of generous, caring people. But of all the schools I’ve seen so far, none compare with my favorite school, this one!
I love that over 25 years we have managed to collect just about every cool didactic piece of equipment there is. I love that we have found teachers from all over the country who are each brilliant, loving and talented in their own unique way and together form a working team who knows how to handle anything. Really – anything. The craziest things happen at school and there is always a teacher nearby who knows just what to do. A circus elephant could come stampeding through the front door and teachers would be instantly evacuating children to a safe place while someone else swept up the broken glass while another had already called the police. I love that year after year we get to know some of the most charming little people on the planet. Each of them teaches us something new. And I love that these charming little people grow into incredible adults who often stop by to tell us about their latest adventures out in the world. And I love that their parents are also some of the most charming and supportive people I’ve ever met. They are smart and accomplished and thoughtful. And I love that everyone finds what they need here. Our teachers know just when to hug someone and when to push them toward a new goal and when to just let them be. Children and adults alike. Together it’s a pretty magical mix – just the right teachers, just the right environments, just the right children, just the right families. Think I’ll go wander into a classroom and see what’s going on…I love my job!
Duna Strachan, AMS
Soaring Wings International Montessori School
Park City, Utah USA