On March 16th, five Hershey Montessori School Alumni shared insights into our lives after Hershey Montessori School. Each of us are in different places in our lives and careers so it was interesting to see how we each have ways in common that our time at Hershey Montessori School impacts us in our lives, school, and careers today. Katie Vadakin and I participated remotely and Andrew Yarger, Connor DeWalt, and Leigh Emelko participated in person at the Concord Campus.
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!
Makella Webster Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
Since attending Hershey Montessori School I have reminisced many times about all the incredible experiences I had there. Even now, as I sit hundreds of miles away surrounded by the warmth of a Florida winter, I can remember in the most vivid detail the lessons and memories I created at Hershey. From the fresh winter cold that was only alleviated by the warmth of the steam evaporating off maple sap in the sugaring shack, to the nervous jitters I had acting in my first production in elementary, to the joy I experienced crossing the bridge from one plane of my Children’s House education on to the next. So much of who I am and what I have learned is entwined with the people and place that makes Hershey Montessori School so special to me.
Despite the many vivid memories, until recently I have not been able to encapsulate my experience into a singular cohesive piece. In all truth, I doubt I’ll ever be able to perfectly capture how Heresy has affected me and how meaningfully and deeply the person I am in my adult life was altered and crafted by my education at Hershey. Yet, with writing this, I will make an attempt at putting into words all that, until now, has eluded me about my experience.
Having spent the majority of my formative years learning and developing at Hersey Montessori School, I learned to take ahold of my own life and education. I learned at a young age to invest in myself and to be inquisitive of the world around me. I developed in a nurturing environment that encouraged and promoted initiative and self-discovery; learning from my peers, mentors, and experiences. Hershey gave me the tools, time, and encouragement to not only learn, but to also lead in areas that sparked my interest.
In a time when seemingly daily more schools are making the decision to cut art programs and focus their resources solely on STEM related courses, Hersey is the outlier. A Montessori education, and specifically a Hersey education is an education that values holistic and interconnected learning within a community. The education I began at Hershey taught me the value in both a conventional schooling in the sciences, math, english, and history; as well as the value of an education in music, arts, foreign language, environment, humanities, and occupations. I could continue to endlessly detail every intricacy of my education at Hershey; however, I believe it is much easier for me to simply say that my time at Hershey taught me to understand that the world truly is my classroom.
After my graduation from Hershey Montessori School, I continued to see the value in learning in an environment that focused on the arts as a pillar of a well-rounded education. I pursued my interest in performance art and specifically theatrical design that I found and that was nurtured during my time at Hershey. Now as an Entertainment Technician at Walt Disney World, and quite a few years after my time at Hershey, I still hold the lessons I learned there dear. I remember the lessons learned on cold winter mornings when the animals at the Huntsburg campus needed fed and the fire in the bioshelter needed fuel. Surely my fellow alumni understand the value of hard work, determination, and selflessness that came from those frigid mornings.
From all I learned at Hershey though, I would have to say that no lesson was as valuable and impactful than the one that almost goes unnoticed but is experienced in every little moment. It is a lesson I learned with every obstacle I overcame, all the quiet morning spent listening to my friends play guitars, each thanksgiving meal, every time I struggled to craft a written work, and even every time I mucked the stalls. I learned to make the most of everything I experienced – to treat every moment as more than just an opportunity to learn and grow, but also as a chance to live with intention and joy surrounded by my classmates and friends. That is a lesson that can’t be taught, it can only be experienced in a nurturing and thought-out environment focused on both individual and communal growth. Now, more than ever it seems, this is a lesson that needs to be shared and experienced. As education becomes an institution it replaces excitement with rigidity, taking what I see as the joy out of learning. Hershey is the complete antithesis of that, making learning a communal activity, having taught me more than simply names and dates, but teaching me that learning and growing truly is a delight.
Jake Hines, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Ambassador
About the Life at Hershey Blog
Imagine a beautiful place filled with activities that are designed around your needs, calling to your curiosity and imagination. Picture a community where children are surrounded by people who understand, encourage and challenge their strengths. Envision a child learning each day, immersed in a culture of respect and a course of study based upon personal interest and engagement.
Serving children from birth through age 18, Hershey offers challenging, highly individualized programs that focus on the uniqueness of each child.
Hershey offers an exceptional experience on two campuses, including the truly unique, world class farm school.