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An Interview with Hershey Montessori School Alumni
Hershey Montessori School delights in welcoming back its graduates and former students. We love to hear how they are tackling life and college after high school. We seek to know how their Montessori education helped shape and prepare them for the paths they chose. We love learning more about where they are today, and how their skills are helping them on life’s journey.
At the last alumni gathering, Hershey graduates shared with us what course of study they are pursuing and what university they are attending. We then asked them to speak to how they felt prepared for where they are on their journey. Below is what they shared.
Ilana Rosenheck ’18, Psychology, University of Cincinnati: “I think the farm, or Hershey or Montessori in general, has really prepared us for public speaking. We all did countless presentations and that really developed a confidence in all of us – or most of us. I feel like if we had an issue or a question, we all felt comfortable with going to our professors and talking to them just because we have that close relationship with the staff here. It’s something I feel like traditional schooling won’t teach their students. Hershey taught us about being a functioning adult. I feel like Hershey really prepared us for life.”
Cameron Zona ’18, Theater and Entrepreneurship, Lake Erie College: “Yeah, I have to agree. I was here on campus on Monday and I sat in on a class of Middle School students and they were giving presentations, and I was like ‘these presentations are better prepared and they have better public speaking skills than the students that are in some of my college classes.’ I was very impressed. I definitely think that it is something that when students graduate, they have a firm grasp on.”
Makenna Venaleck ’18, Chemical Engineering, Ohio University: “I don’t do a lot of presentations or public speaking in my area of study, but I will say that I felt very prepared to talk with my professors and have a little bit of an up because even though a lot of people in STEM are very good at math and science, they can’t really communicate what they are studying or how they are feeling or talk to their professors or to a potential employer. I went to the career fair and I felt very prepared because I could set aside ‘What are my skills? What are things that I am good at?’ and I could have a conversation with someone that maybe would employ me or was a professor. I felt very prepared for interpersonal communication.”
Erin Finan ’19, Journalism, Ohio University: “I think Hershey helped me (or Montessori) in a lot of ways, but especially when I went to college and I was trying to find my friend group. The people I connected with like at Hershey really helped me to know the kind of people I wanted to be around and know how to find my tribe. Taking that to college made it a lot easier to find people and know that these were the people that I wanted to spend time with and be around, and that I wanted to form my friend group with. I mean, college has more people so you have to adjust because of that, but you also have to know that there are people like you and for you at college that you’ll be able to connect with in the same way you connect with people here. You might have to look a little bit harder because it’s such a bigger environment, but like I said, Hershey helped me and a lot of us know who we wanted as our friends and the things we value. When we find those [values] in other people, it’s easier to make those connections.”
Elise Spintzyk ’18, Psychology, Ohio State University: “I think Hershey prepared us well because we had a lot of leadership opportunities. I think students who are looking to move forward into a graduate program or even to apply for a job are able to step into a leadership role. While you are in college that is something that is really important and important for your resumé. Already having had a leadership role with experience, I can bring that in as a freshman student when applying for a position on an executive board of a club, something in your department, or looking for a research position if that’s something you’re interested in. Those are things that you wouldn’t already be taking with you from most high schools. I think a lot of students haven’t had the opportunity to do so. When you step into those roles when you’re in college, you are very well prepared for them and you’re able to thrive in that position and keep moving forward.”
Thank you, alumni, for sharing how your Hershey Montessori School experience and skills have helped aid you in your college education and beyond. We are please that you were able to take leadership, communication, interpersonal skills, public speaking, real-life capabilities, and tools to navigate and find your way in the next steps of your education. We wish you all the best. We truly look forward to seeing you all again very soon!
“For the adolescent, it is critical that we make our learning child-directed and that we continue to make student choices a priority.” ~John Buzzard
Hershey’s John Buzzard recently shared with the International Montessori Training Institute how he’s transitioned his Upper School Integrated Humanities projects to a distance, online education learning model. Below is an excerpt of what Buzzard wrote:
Because we value face-to-face, social interaction and hands-on learning in Montessori education, we must strive to keep these as key elements of the learning process, despite our current social distancing situation. This requires some adjustments, but can still be accomplished. As we consider our move towards working with our students in an online education environment, we should pause to consider how to make this approach as true to the Montessori pedagogy as possible. Even using technology and new methodologies, we know that the truths of Montessori remain valid and will want to design our educational program with them in mind.
For the adolescent, it is critical that we make our online education child-directed and that we continue to make student choices a priority. Our choice of strategies in the online environment can be shaped by philosophy, and just as in other environments, we find teacher-centered learning and student-centered learning occurring. Because students are working more independently, there are many ways to structure the learning to be student-centered, and we want to take advantage of the computer and the students’ home environment to emphasize these possibilities.
Creating social elements is also key to making the online learning experience truly meaningful to adolescents. Don’t merely focus on academic interactions – think closely about how to use video, dialogue, discussion, and activities to build connection and social dynamics with the group. Although we accept that this will be a less authentic community experience than actual face-to-face interaction, we must continue to make that element of adolescent development primary.
As always, there is a tension between the need for student-centered learning and the need for a prepared environment. In a Montessori school, guides know that maximizing student choice often begins with carefully constructed environments and experiences. We must shift this thinking to the online world, creating prepared virtual environments and experiences that continue to support student learning without superseding it.
Ultimately it is the three-stage learning cycle that shows us the way to structuring our online education environment. This approach maximizes student choice while providing the prepared environment structure that students need to do their best work. This three-stage cycle is built on three natural stages to the learning process – key lessons, individual research, and meaningful presentation.
This approach maximizes student choice while providing the prepared environment structure that students need to do their best work.
“To say it is a good school is not enough. If you have a chance, come here and observe. You will feel the difference. It is so peaceful and calm. Even the teachers and adults are calm. You will see real Montessori.” ~Derek Tsai
An Interview with a Teacher in Training
Hershey Montessori School was pleased to host Derek Tsai for five weeks of teacher training recently. We extend a special thank you to Jennifer Finan, Early Elementary Guide, for her exemplary role modeling and her passion to help others live, teach, and share Montessori.
teaBelow is a short interview between Head of School Assistant, Saren Peetz, and Derek Tsai.
Saren: What is the correct spelling and pronunciation of your name?
Derek: Derek Tsai (Tsai sounds like “Thai”).
Saren: Where are you from?
Derek: I am from Taiwan originally, but moved to Austin, Texas about 4 years ago.
Saren: Do you have a school you would like to work at in Austin, or are you starting your own school?
Derek: When we moved from Taiwan, my wife and I started a small school. It is a bilingual school with Mandarin and English.
Saren: Does your school have an elementary program yet, or is it only Children’s House?
Derek: Only Children’s House for now, but we are going to be growing to elementary. The parents of the Children’s House students asked for more levels to be added. I also have a 6 year old daughter, so it is good timing. We want the elementary for her as well.
Saren: What interests you about Montessori education?
Derek: I started working in Montessori as a helper to my wife. My wife is the Children’s House lead teacher. She knows a lot about the Montessori theory. I discovered through that work that I really loved Montessori. When I was helping my wife, I knew the names of the materials, but I did not know the use of them. But then, in my training, I took the Foundation Course and then the Elementary Course. After I learned the theory of both the Children’s House and Elementary I thought, “Wow, that is what I want.”
Saren: What does the landscape of Montessori look like in your home country/state?
Derek: I will start with Taiwan. In Taiwan there is not much land, especially in the cities. There are no backyards, only ten story buildings. It is very challenging for preschools to operate. The preschools usually rent out the first or the second floor of these tall buildings and they will use parks for playgrounds. Austin is more similar to preschools everywhere in the United States. There is more room. Hershey is unique, though, especially its playground. The playground has a huge space to run and build with sticks. It is very natural and very Montessori.
Saren: What brought you to Hershey?
Derek: I took the training course in Zhejiang, and a few of my classmates on the course came to Hershey a few years ago to see the upper school (Middle and Upper School) for the adolescent orientation. They loved Hershey, so I thought if I can do my observation there it would be good. So I contacted the school and contacted Jennifer and set up my practice teaching at Hershey.
Saren: When do you finish your training?
Derek: There are five time blocks for my training. The last training block is in February, and that is the oral and written exams. Then I will come back to my wife’s school to open the elementary classroom in September or maybe earlier.
Saren: What is your biggest take away from Hershey?
Derek: My biggest take away was Jennifer’s attitude and her spirit. She enjoyed her work and all the children are engaged in their work. I hope I can be a guide like that. It is not easy in teaching to get all the children engaged in their work. But she did it! So maybe I can do it, too. Also, the design of the building at Hershey. It is good for children because it is easier for them to go from elementary to another class, or even back to the Children’s House. And also easy access to outside, especially for the Children’s House. They have their own yard and all the windows in their classrooms let them see outside and watch outside. I also loved all the books. There were so many! I loved the library. There are so many things I loved I can’t list them all right now.
Saren: What is one thing you would tell parents about education?
Derek: Many parents are still believing in traditional education and public school more. But when talking about Montessori, the Montessori way is to put the abstract and the physical thing together to make the whole concept very solid. I would also want to really let parents know what the difference is between Montessori and traditional education. I would say the two biggest things for elementary are independence and Cosmic Education.
Saren: What is one thing you would tell other educators about Hershey Montessori School?
Derek: To say it is a good school is not enough. If you have a chance, come here and observe. You will feel the difference. It is so peaceful and calm. Even the teachers and adults are calm. You will see real Montessori. The physical design even looks like home. It makes the whole layout look like a home. If I hear someone is looking for observations or help, I will suggest they go to Hershey Montessori School.
Best wishes to you, Derek. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We enjoyed having you here at Hershey Montessori School, and are glad that you are taking a piece of us with you as you provide Montessori for more children in your corner of the world.
Abriella Minotti, a senior at Hershey Montessori School, recently spoke at the State of Geauga forum held at Kent State University’s Geauga campus. A group of approximately 150 politicians, business owners, educators and residents gathered to hear and to talk about what’s happening in Geauga County. The views shared reflected past progress, current status, and gave a glimpse into the future.
Minotti addressed the topic of Education, including the innovative programs at Hershey’s Huntsburg campus, which is home to the school’s Adolescent program. She extended an open invitation to the Geauga County community to visit Hershey Montessori School.
As a senior, Minotti serves as an adjunct staff member for Hershey’s Admissions Department where she provides presentations and tours to families, individuals, and organizations interested in learning more about the school. You can learn more about the Hershey Montessori School admissions process here
Other speakers addressed the areas of Agriculture, Arts & Leisure, Business, Government, Health & Safety, and Human Services.
You can read more about this in the Chagrin Valley Times.
“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.” — Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
Communication in today’s world has many avenues. Just imagine that it was only 30 years ago that both cell phones and the Internet took hold. Information that was once exchanged verbally is now delivered via texts, emails, tweets, posts, and pictures. It is now more relevant than ever to continue to cultivate and enhance face-to-face, interpersonal relationship skills — and this is something that Montessori education certainly strives for. Instilling the relevance of these crucial interpersonal communication skills in each and every student is one of the hallmarks of our program.
This past week, the entire Hershey staff had the opportunity to attend an all-day workshop on Needs-Based Communication, also known as Nonviolent Communication (NVC). NVC is a method of communication that transforms old patterns of reactiveness and defensiveness into compassion and empathy with the hope of improving both communication as well as relationships.
The workshop was led by Gregg Kendrick, founder of Basileia, LLC. NVC greatly aligns with Montessori pedagogy as it creates a space for attention and respect in every moment. This is something that we certainly can use more of in today’s world. NVC lays a solid foundation by incorporating observation, feelings, and needs with both empathy and honesty. If practiced regularly, this model can enrich and strengthen communication.
In the coming months, the staff will connect what was learned and incorporate more of these skills with students, parents, and each other, to promote a more harmonious and enriching community. To find out more about the Hershey Montessori education you can view more on our information page.
To learn more about NVC, visit Basileia.org.
Members of the graduating classes of 2018 and 2019 recently returned home to Hershey Montessori School for its annual Alumni Day.
The graduates hosted a panel discussion with current students where they reflected on their time at Hershey and answered questions about life after high school. The graduates went on to share valuable insights regarding their transition to college, making new friends, and various tips to help students as they continue their own journey in the years to come.
The alumni were also gracious in their time as they participated in a Q&A session with Hershey parents via video conference.
We are grateful to all who were able to join us for this informative, heart-warming, welcome home event.
Many thanks to Mathematics, Business and Microeconomy Guide, Jennifer Snead, for organizing this event, and to all of the alumni for taking the time to share their wisdom with the Hershey community.
“A shop, or store, could be established…and here the students could easily sell and bring their produce of their fields and garden, and other things that they have made.” ~ Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence.
Hershey Montessori Middle and Upper School students are excited to offer a special selection of microeconomy products through their new online market.
Available products include hand-crafted cutting boards, wooden spoons and spatulas, beeswax candles, maple syrup products, and more. Many of these items can be purchased as part of the beautiful Holiday Market Chest being offered for a limited time only.
Students have been working diligently on the new online platform and are pleased to have taken the next step in experiencing entrepreneurship and small business through this practical and relevant application known as e-commerce.
The Microeconomy is a hallmark component of Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Community. Dr. Maria Montessori envisioned adolescents participating in and managing small business endeavors in order to experience economic activity in their community – the “microeconomy.”
Today’s students have additional options for exploring and demonstrating the fundamental concepts of entrepreneurship as they manage all the aspects of the Hershey Market. Students are responsible for marketing, sales management, customer service, inventory, order fulfillment, accounting systems, and much more.
Shop the Hershey Market online or view the full array of high-quality products, made from natural resources harvested from the Huntsburg, OH farm campus, by visiting us in person. Contact us at 440-636-6290.
Proceeds from sales go to the Microeconomy to sustain the needs of the farm and Microeconomy activities.
Learn more about our Adolescent Program.
Three Hershey Montessori Calculus students recently attended Youngstown State University’s MathFest, where they competed with other high school students from all around Ohio. Afterward, the group, along with Math Guide Jennifer Snead, attended various workshops aimed at exploring additional math concepts. Some of the available options included Mathematics of Origami, Archimedes, and the Mathematics of Cells in Your Heart. It was a fun math day, and an event Hershey Montessori School plans to continue participation in the years to come. Congratulations ladies. You represent us well!
(Pictured above from left to right: Math Guide Jennifer Snead, Maya Harwood, Lucy McNees and Sylvia Altman.)
It’s True. We Provide School Bus Transportation!
It may have been our best kept secret, though it was never intended to be. Hershey Montessori School offers school busing services for our Middle and Upper School students attending our Huntsburg Campus.
Options include one-way or round trips for our Day and Interim Boarding Students.
Pricing ranges from $780 to $3,900 per year, depending on the service option selected.
We are listening to the needs of our parent community and continually evaluating the need for additional stops to accommodate the busing needs of our students.
We also provide inter-campus shuttle service from Hershey’s Concord Campus to Hershey’s Huntsburg Campus five days a week free of charge.
Learn more here or contact us at 440-357-0918 with your questions.
A Close Look at Immigration
Immigration has been a central focus of media outlets everywhere. Reporters, commentators, and the general public are expressing views and interpretation of law. Hershey Montessori Guide, John Buzzard, saw the opportunity in seeking greater understanding for his students as they are preparing to enter and contribute to society as young adults.
When law meets humanity
John began by extending an invitation to George Koussa to visit Hershey students at the Adolescent Campus in Huntsburg, Ohio. Mr. Koussa, who is a Syrian immigrant, accepted and openly shared his experience as an immigrant, along with his thoughts around current immigration policies in the United States.
John additionally spoke with Hershey Montessori students about their perspectives and thoughts on having Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) come to speak to them as a group. The students were supportive of the idea, knowing that hearing from different perspectives is beneficial, and that this particular perspective is extremely important given it is representative of the U.S. Government.
John and his students extended an invitation, which then led to an informative visit from Valentina Seeley and Kris Crowley from ICE. In spite of the many controversies currently surrounding ICE, Mr. Seeley and Mr. Crowley were gracious and kind as they presented a wealth of information and documents to help inform and illustrate the challenges and protocols of immigration. The students respectfully asked challenging questions of Mr. Seeley and Mr. Crowley. Hershey Montessori School has nearly two dozen boarding students from countries outside the United States. Students saw value in the opportunity to meet with ICE, and several committed to continue their own research on some of the more controversial topics.
Both guests expressed how impressive Hershey students were and how much they appreciated having a reasoned conversation around their work, which is not always the case in their professional work.
A short time later, Hershey students embarked on a trip to Downtown Cleveland to observe a Naturalization Ceremony. It was an invaluable experience that put faces to names and envisioned real lives over simple stories. It allowed students to experience the immigration process as both a logistical matter and a personal one.
Hearing about life-changing issues is important, but immersing ourselves in the process allows for greater comprehension. As adolescents take their place in the next generation of influencers and decision makers, they must be properly prepared and ready to tackle global concerns like these.