Upper Elementary classroom students enjoy growing from seed, harvesting a beautiful crop and enjoying a healthy, organic salad. This year’s garden program was supplemented thanks to a generous donation of seed from Sow True Seed!
Bending, reaching, sifting and very gently pulling on the root systems, Ethan and Daniel work with focus. “We are working on the garlic mustard because it is an invasive species” and with enthusiasm, they show me how to identify the plant both before and after its flowering phase. “This plant came from Europe, – actually England – and the deer there love to eat them.” “Someone brought the plant to North America and the deer here do not like to eat them at all!”
The two boys work together in rhythm and the enthusiastic chatter is all about the deer, insects and human’s inadvertently causing this great change. Their mathematical minds turn the talk to “each patch has many plants and each plant sheds many seeds. Next year this patch would create thousands more and then the next year those thousands shed more seeds” and Cheryl McGovern, who provides the outdoor education support, offers “yes, they grow exponentially don’t they!”
What did they get out of their afternoon at school today? Collaboration, responsibility, effortful work, focus, ethics, accomplishment, contribution, self-competence, math, science, language and great joy!
What is life like after Hershey Montessori School? On March 16, four alumni of Hershey Montessori School will be participating in a Panel Event at the Concord Campus at 6:30 PM. We will share some of their life experiences and perspectives after leaving the Montessori method of education, and answer your questions about our life choices such as college and/or careers and giving back to the community.
If you’re not able to attend in person, the event will be filmed and posted online.
The four panelists participating are Leigh Emelko, Katie Vadakin, Connor DeWalt, and myself, Makella Webster.
Leigh Emelko is currently a student at Case Western Reserve University and studying Anthropology. She is also in Sigma Sigma Sigma National Sorority serving as the Goals Coordinator for Honor Council. She is also involved in Global Health Design Collaboration to help improve medical waste handling in Uganda, has studied abroad in the UK, and is planning on studying in Amsterdam in May. She also volunteers at Urban Squash Cleveland teaching kids how to play squash and tutoring them as well.
Katie Vadakin is currently a student at Bently University in Boston, MA and interns at an application security company called Veracode, Inc. She is studying Finance with a double minor in Marketing and Spanish for Business, and will graduate in 2018.
I am a Marketing Coordinator for Provident Label Group, a division of Sony Music Entertainment located in Nashville, TN. My husband and I moved to Nashville about four years ago. I have worked at two nonprofit organizations and did marketing for a band from home and did a few national tours with them before being hired at Provident Label Group two years ago. I attended Ohio University for undergrad and graduate school and have my Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Production with a double minor in Music and Business, and my Master’s Degree in Media Management.
Connor DeWalt is currently a House Parent at the Huntsburg campus. He attended Hiram College and received his Bachelor’s Degree in History. While attending college, he was on the ultimate Frisbee team and was the captain of the men’s rugby team. At Hershey Montessori School, he teaches outdoor skills and is involved in other classes and activities with the students such teaching snowboarding, leading a book group, etc. He plans on pursuing his Montessori training to become a guide.
We hope that you will attend the event on March 16th!
Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
In honor of Montessori Education Week, honoring the sense of community that was fostered in us as Montessori students is important.
Many people go about their lives looking inward, asking questions like ‘How can I help me?’ ‘Is this going to benefit me?’ ‘What can I get out of doing this?’ ‘How can that person help me get ahead?’ While Montessori promotes independence, decision making, and helping the child to think for themselves, there is also an external focus to the work done, the lessons taught, and community that is fostered. In many, if not all, of the lessons that we learned as students, there was a thread that runs through them which is the betterment of the world and mankind – sometimes through the connection with nature and other living things, sometimes through projects that help the community run smoothly, sometimes through knowledge about historical issues and issues facing society today, sometimes it’s through the Practical Life work. Almost every lesson we were taught had a connection to the greater world – what we learned was to either directly better the world and those around us, or to equip and inspire us to make the world around us better.
Dr. Montessori called children ‘a hope and a promise for mankind…’, said that “An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live…” and that, “The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity.”
Dr. Montessori said these things because she believed that her curriculum and the way that she designed an educational system are meant to educate children as a whole, not just academically. By educating the whole child and interweaving peace and community throughout the pedagogy, these statements she made are attainable because the alumni and former students will be living out the principals of peace and community knowingly and unknowingly.
Looking at the basic needs of an individual, the desire for community (and thus peace within that community) is one of the essentials. According to Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs,’ once the basics are met (food, clothing, shelter, safety), the next level of need is belonging, followed by esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence, which is helping others. Dr. Montessori designed a curriculum and a system that educates, develops, and encourages these innate needs which is a big reason why it works. She knew what mankind needed – belongingness, esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence – and developed an environment where those needs are met, fostered, cared for, and grown. The environment that Dr. Montessori envisioned was created by Hershey Montessori School 39 years ago with over 1,000 students having had the chance to experience it. In honor of Montessori Education Week, that is worth celebrating!
As students, we were taught that we have something to contribute, that we were capable of much, and that we could make a difference. We were recognized as unique individuals and given freedom within limits to foster our individuality within the greater community. Being encouraged in this way inspires us to better the world around us and to contribute.
Katie Vadakin, a Hershey Montessori School Alumni Ambassador who attended Hershey from 1998 to 2010 said, “…it has become extremely clear to me all that Montessori has provided me with. From people skills, to academics, to leadership abilities, Hershey has given me a perfect base for success.”
To sum it up, promoting community and peace alongside providing an education for the whole child results in students being prepared to make an impact.
Makella Webster, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
It’s Montessori Education Week celebrating the 110-year anniversary of Montessori Education! One of the amazing things about Montessori education is that the pedagogy can be replicated all over the world, throughout time and is still successful at educating the whole child.
The screenshot from this video of a Montessori classroom in Bhutan below looks so similar to the classrooms at Hershey Montessori School (the second image). Dr. Montessori, an Italian herself, developed principles for education that are universal to all children.
In a research article about the evaluation of Thai Montessori schools, the results showed that “the overall intellectual performance and language skills of Montessori children were significantly superior” to the other children tested. More proof of the power of Montessori across the world!
In looking at Montessori education throughout time, even though some things change with advancements in technology, research, etc., the principles taught by Dr. Montessori still hold true today. Below is a historical photo of a child working on the Cylinder Block material – a material that is taught at Hershey Montessori School today.
The 110th anniversary of Montessori education is worthy of celebration – without Montessori education, countless children would not have been prepared to better the world around them. Without it, the more than 1,000 alumni of Hershey Montessori School would not have been impacted the way we have been, and our lives would not be as enriched as they are now.
Makella Webster, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator