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.
Congratulations! You have the opportunity to make a decision that will impact the rest of your child’s life for the better. Your child will learn and grow in a beautiful prepared environment perfectly suited to his or her age and learning speed. If they attend Hershey Montessori School, your child will learn math, science, art, history, humanities, and language by researching in depth, working in groups with other students, going outside and working with the land to see the practical applications of what they’re learning, creating art from a specific time period using authentic materials, writing and performing a Dramatis Personae of a historical individual from that person’s perspective, and many more ways that foster creativity, understanding, and curiosity about the world around them.
They will develop an appreciation for the earth and awareness of where their food comes from through making meals for the community using produce from the garden and meat from the animals they help raise. They will learn about other cultures and alongside students from around the world, which stimulates an understanding of the world outside of their experiences, thus promoting peace. They will be encouraged to follow their specific interests and to get their hands dirty sometimes. They will be inspired to have quiet time, time to create, time to sing, time to plant, time to read, time to run, time to build, time to ask questions…
They will be well prepared for life after Hershey Montessori School both academically and emotionally. Nikhil, an alumnus says, “…my Montessori education sets me apart from other applicants to college and while seeking employment.” Another alumna, Gaelle, says, “Learning hands-on helps me visualize better during my thought process. [I] can think more abstractly. [Hershey Montessori School’s] education placed me directly into honors classes for high school.”
They will be joining a community that truly cares about children because Dr. Maria Montessori believed that, “The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
They will be attending a school that is on the cutting edge of Montessori education with the development of the Upper School, and once the new building is finished, your child will be able to learn at Hershey Montessori School starting at birth through age 18.
If you decide that Hershey Montessori School is the place for your child, their life will be impacted, and so will lives around them.
“Although there are many ways, without a doubt the strongest way in which Montessori has helped me was by building a constant desire to learn, and to show me the many ways in which I could learn. I have taken that with me everywhere I’ve been.” – Benjamin Weinberg, Hershey Montessori School Alumnus
The Hershey Montessori Alumni Community
Alumni, what insight would you share with someone considering Hershey Montessori School for their child? Please comment on this post or email me at email@example.com.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
We put together a map of all of the cities that we know alumni are currently living in, and the reach is global (click here to see it). Based on the experiences we had at Hershey Montessori School, it makes sense that the alumni would live and work all over the world!
As a young student, I remember seeing the flags from around the world in the classrooms. Through the humanities, history, arts, and language classes, we were exposed to a wide variety of cultures from a young age. Starting in Children’s House, we were taught to learn the continent names, promoting knowledge of the world outside of our day-to-day experiences. There are so many ways that Hershey Montessori School celebrated cultural diversity and prompted students to learn about different cultures and civilizations at each plane of development. It was also wonderful to get to attend school with students from all over the world as well – not only were we learning about different cultures, we were learning alongside those with different cultural backgrounds.
Montessori education promotes peace, and the study of other cultures and celebration of differences is one of the ways peace is promoted and integrated into the classrooms. Dr. Montessori said “Establishing peace is the work of education…” and she brilliantly intertwined this into so much of her pedagogy.
Here are some examples of alumni who are learning and working around the world: Tristan Quigley from Australia is working at Universidad Externado in Bogotá, Colombia, Brian Vadakin returned from Costa Rica this year where he was researching rural tourism on a U.S. Fulbright research grant, Collin DeWalt is currently teaching in Daegu, South Korea, Ursula Wilkinson interned at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and Joel Smith is in Amsterdam.
Looking at the global reach that the Hershey Montessori School alumni have, we can see a one-to-one correlation with the peace-promoting education we experienced and Hershey Montessori School alumni’s desire to go out into the world to learn and deepen the cultural experiences we all began having as students.
If you have any exciting travel plans or would like to share how Hershey Montessori School impacted your understanding of culture and the world, please either comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
Please take a look here at the selection of some of the careers that alumni have pursued. It makes sense that the Hershey Montessori School alumni have pursued such varied interests. Hershey Montessori School encouraged us to pursue what we loved and what we were curious about and there were opportunities to be as involved as we wanted. We had the freedom to explore and dive deeper in those interests.
The first time I was involved in the recording of music, it was for a CD of meaningful songs that the students and staff were making my eighth grade year at the Huntsburg Campus. That was a seed that grew into eventually receiving my bachelor’s degree in Audio Production and my master’s degree in Media Management. Thanks to the musical experiences given at an early age both by my parents and by Hershey Montessori School, then with the exposure to recording music as an adolescent, the seeds were planted that grew into my passion for music marketing. I am currently a Marketing Coordinator at Provident Label Group, a division of Sony Music, in Nashville. At Hershey Montessori School, I was encouraged to be myself and embrace my curiosity. Being encouraged to ask questions and dig deeper as a student sparked a life-long custom of diving into subjects that interest me.
In a TED talk about Montessori, the speaker talked about how the Montessori pedagogy holds art and science at the same level of importance as math and language – and that “teachers are there to guide to meet each individual’s strengths and each individual’s needs” – how amazing is it that our teachers were there to meet our strengths and needs in an environment where art, science, math, and language are of equal importance? No wonder the alumni have pursued such varied interests! It was encouraged from day one!
As the Alumni Coordinator, it is an honor to continue to hear stories of how alumni continue to be impacted by their Montessori Education in their work today. Justin Weinbaum who attended Hershey Montessori School from 1981 to 1990 shares,
“It’s been a long time. Over 25 years, by my count, since our class left the Upper Elementary to go out into the world, er, Junior High. Still, even this far out, I thank my Montessori education daily for what it provided me. I am a Research Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. That’s the title – in practice what I do is collaborate with other researchers to advance knowledge and produce technologies that can help people with health problems. I also work every day with students at the University helping them to formulate their research ideas and present their work to others. Every bit of this has been informed by my Montessori experience. I love working with others, just as I did in our Upper Elementary performance of “The Hobbit.” I love the thrill of discovery, just as I recall from hikes at Penitentiary Glen with my classmates. And I love teaching, and seeing my students “get it,” just as we all taught each other about math, history, and language at our classroom tables. Your education at Hershey Montessori is an investment that will pay off over your lifetime.”
Special thanks to Justin for contributing! We would love to hear your story – how Montessori is continuing to impact you in your careers and lives! If you’d like to contribute, please email me at email@example.com.
My name is Katie Vadakin, and I grew up in the Hershey community from 18 months old to 14 years old (1997-2010), however, Hershey continues to be a part of me today. I am currently in my third year at Bentley University, a business-centered university in Boston. Additionally, I just returned from Madrid, Spain where I was studying for the last four months. Before I left for this unique opportunity abroad, I can recall my internship supervisor saying to me something along the lines of “Katie, you’re pretty well-rounded and worldly for someone from the Midwest.” Disregarding the classic East Coast jab at the Midwest (long live CLE), this is not the first time I have heard something along these lines regarding my leadership, travels, or general independence. While there is no doubt in my mind that Hershey Montessori shaped me into the person I am today, I believe that it affected my independence and curiosity the most. Montessori’s hands-on learning style, which allows students to explore both their indoor and outdoor classrooms, contributes to a child’s curiosity and develops into an adolescent’s desire to learn. I have always felt a desire to learn – not only academically, but also culturally and introspectively. This ambition fueled by my Hershey education has led to my passions for volunteering, travel, mathematics, Spanish, and much more.
I gained independence and confidence as a child through opportunities such as choosing my own work, performing in short plays, and exploring the nature around me. In my later years at Hershey I further developed leadership skills at the Farm School through activities such as running the holiday basket sales, leading a committee to create a yearbook, and volunteering to work with students at the elementary school. Memories from Hershey like these have stayed with me throughout my personal and professional development. At the time, I had no idea that actions such as building a fort in “stick city,” singing at the Farm’s “Coffee House” night, or serving food at the annual pancake breakfast would each be instrumental in my education. I hold these memories close, not only because they made up my childhood and adolescence, but also because I know that I owe a lot of my current experiences and success to the background Hershey has given me.
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.