Greensboro Montessori School has been celebrating eighth grade graduations since 1997, when our first class of three eighth graders completed their Montessori journey and excelled into high school. These early graduates are now young professionals with families of their own and many choose to enroll their children at our School. This year we welcomed another legacy alumni family to our School – Michelle Todd and Steven Todd '03. Michelle is a speech language pathologist in Gastonia and Steven is a professional pilot. Their son, Andrew, is a member of our Toddler community.
GMS: Michelle and Steven, thank you for taking time to share more about your family with us. Before we jump in, what can you tell us about yourselves as individuals?
MT: I grew up in a rural area of Indiana with my parents and younger sister. I knew early on I wanted to be in a profession that helped individuals. I attended Purdue University for my undergraduate degree and UNCG for my masters degree. I primarily work with the adult population specializing in stroke/traumatic brain injury, head and neck cancer, and dysphagia within the acute and inpatient rehabilitation settings. Outside of work I love to craft, bake, organize, spend time with our dog (Maisy), and travel.
ST: Thanks to my dad, aviation has always been a love story to me. With all the ups and downs, a love story is about passion, goals, and dreams. And those dreams started young for me!
I remember teachers at GMS helping me learn certain concepts by trying to explain it in aviation terms. Part of my graduation speech included my goal to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. This eventually became a reality. While I originally wanted to fly professionally, I pursued aviation management after heeding the advice of my dad that I should learn every aspect of the aviation industry to truly find my passion.
I started on the ramp loading baggage and cleaning jets at the Greensboro airport for Piedmont Airlines during college. Following graduation, I moved to Phoenix working on the ramp in management. The following year, I secured a position in Charlotte for US Airways (and later American Airlines post-merger) as a customer service manager. I eventually managed AA’s ground operations from the tower. Throughout this time, I still had a desire for flying professionally and pursued completing my flight training. I later moved to Florida where I instructed international students how to fly. This is where I think Montessori helped me the most. I was now sitting where my teachers sat, except it was in an airplane teaching someone how to fly an amazing machine. I found the teaching techniques I remembered from my time at GMS successfully influence how I instructed. Following a year teaching, I moved on to Envoy Air, a Regional Airline for American Airlines flying an Embraer 175 out of Chicago.
Presently, I fly a Boeing 767 for Atlas Air flying Amazon Cargo and US Troops and their families around the world. Along with everything you do in life, the hard work and the passion with which you approach your goals and dreams are everything: from a baggage handler loading and cleaning jets night after night to working one of the coolest jobs I think most children dream about when they look up in the sky. I wholeheartedly believe if it wasn’t for my upbringing in the Montessori environment, it would have been a lot harder to pursue those dreams. A child can truly be or do anything that they can imagine which is what I think Montessori is best at. The passion and the imagination of a child is truly an incredible gift that we all get to take a part in developing and fostering.
GMS: You both have great personal stories. How did these stories come together?
MT: We met during college at a young adult church function. We later learned we actually lived in the same apartment complex one building apart. We ended up dating long distance upon graduation; however, distance certainly made the heart grow fonder. We feel the strong foundation in communication we made has allowed us to continually grow together. We love the beautiful life we are making and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
GMS: We are excited as well and grateful your family has chosen GMS to play a role. Michelle, do you remember when Steven first told you about his time at GMS and the moment when you decided as a family that Montessori was right for your family?
MT: Steven first shared his educational journey during our time while dating. He always expressed such fondness of his experiences with Montessori from approachability and helpfulness of his teachers to his fun learning experiences that helped foster confidence and responsibility.
After getting married and discussing more in depth our goals for future child(ren), we both agreed a strong educational foundation was of upmost importance to us. Knowing Steven’s positive outlook from his time in Montessori, it certainly was in the forefront of our plans. Once Andrew had his first birthday, we knew Montessori schooling would be perfect for our very curious and active little boy to help further nurture his independence.
GMS: Yes, Andrew is so curious and independent. We see it in the classroom every day. Steven, how does it feel returning to GMS as a parent? What’s the same, and what’s different?
ST: I think it’s absolutely incredible to return to GMS as a parent. And it’s wonderful seeing adults sending their kids to GMS that I grew up with as well. I think it’s truly powerful to step back into a classroom that I once worked in helping mentor children as a middle schooler. Even as an adult, I still get the same excitement as when I was a student stepping on campus every day, as well as the strong feelings of being loved and cared for as an individual. On that note, I think it’s extremely important for a child to have those same feelings and the same environment to be able to grow into a wonderful caring person throughout the years, which is why I wanted Andrew to be at GMS. I think it’s the best gift in life we could ever give him. I think it’s absolutely incredible what GMS has become since I graduated in 2003 and very much look forward to seeing Andrew grow in the same atmosphere.
GMS: Thank you, Steven, and welcome home! We're so glad to see you every day and thankful you've introduced us to Michelle, and she is also part of this place. What is it about Montessori that most appeals to you as parents?
MT: It is certainly different from the “traditional” or “standard” model that I grew up with; however, I think I appreciate that the most. Maria Montessori stated, “The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.” I am encouraged to know this learning model focuses on the individual with development of foundational life skills for becoming a successful, independent person. I never want my child to have his curiosity or creativity diminished. I want him to be supported and surrounded in an environment where he doesn’t feel insecure to seek out help with challenges and recognize his capability in doing hard things. I also love the encouragement of fostering his constant desire for movement!
ST: Growing up in Montessori, I absolutely loved school. Maria Montessori quoted, “As we observe children, we see the vitality of their spirit, the maximum effort put forth in all they do, the intuition, attention and focus they bring to all life’s events, and the sheer joy they experience in living.” I think this is a very powerful quote for children when it comes to the learning process. A learning environment should be exactly that. That’s why Montessori really spoke to me as a child and really helped foster my personal learning style ... because every child learns differently, and the Montessori environment in my opinion is the best at that.
GMS: What are your dreams for Andrew as he embarks on his Montessori journey?
MT: I hope to follow Maria Montessori’s statement “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” During this phase of toddlerhood, I hope he will continue to develop his love of learning by supporting his curious nature. I also think promoting independence will help his self-confidence, perseverance, and initiative. I know these aspects will help develop a strong foundation for skills he will utilize for his lifetime.
GMS: Thank you for your time, your thoughtful words, and your support of Greensboro Montessori School. We love being on this journey with you and Andrew.
Greensboro Montessori School hosted two teacher workdays this fall, each dedicated on professional development. Classrooms were closed giving our team uninterrupted time to focus on learning new skills and growing as educational professionals. So how did the team use their time?
During our September 20 workday, faculty paused to reflect on the work we do with students every day and our approach to guiding them in their meaningful work. Nancy VanWinkle, instructional coach, and Jessica White Winger, director of student support, led a workshop designed to build teachers’ tool sets for preparing the environment, particularly expanding the resources of the prepared teacher. The theme was building a “Community of Reflective Practitioners,” with a focus on leveraging the collective experience of the educators in the room.
Teachers worked in mixed-division groups, with varying years of experience in the field. The morning opened with a grounding activity in which teachers were shown photographs of individuals who have affected positive change in the world. These individuals have raised awareness around difficult issues, often putting their lives and work at risk to do the “right” thing. Teachers were asked to work with their groups to list the qualities of one of those changemakers. Following a share-out, the group reflected on how we can encourage these qualities in all of our students. This impactful exercise grounded us in the knowledge that each child is under “self construction” and we have the big responsibility of allowing their true light to shine, while helping guide them in becoming their best self.
Following this exercise, Nancy and Jessica shared what resources and experiences they have to support teachers during the 2023-24 school year. As our instructional coach, a role dedicated to support faculty in their professional development, Nancy worked closely with Jessica to design a collaborative problem-solving approach for schoolwide implementation. The model offers teachers a practical tool for seeking input from one another and leveraging the cumulative knowledge of our faculty and staff.
This collaborative problem-solving model has teachers sharing a specific behavior they are experiencing with a child in their classroom. A group of educators, with one facilitator and one recorder, reflects on the overall question, “What’s going on with this child?” and what are the unmet needs, lagging skills, or obstacles that the student might be encountering? By looking at the heart of the issue, we honor the child and seek to better understand what their behavior is telling us. The facilitator then takes the group through a series of brainstorming questions, while the recorder writes strategies and suggestions. In the end, the teacher chooses a strategy to try out for a week and agrees to report back to the group. At that point, they may revisit the brainstorm and select another strategy to try.
After modeling this process for everyone, teachers split into their mixed-division groups to practice the model. The value of this collaborative approach is vast, as it’s an opportunity for teachers to gain new perspectives and insight, helping create a shift in paradigm and introducing new ways of responding to student needs. It’s about connecting with colleagues and taking a child-centered approach, as much as it’s about reflecting on our own vulnerabilities and finding strength in the process. It is not about “fixing” a behavior, but opening ourselves to trying new approaches and embracing the spirit of the child.
During our October 6 teacher workday, our group of reflective practitioners reunited to share how our new system of collaborative problem solving is helping them in the classroom. Mixed-division groups reported out on strategy successes and areas of growth. More teachers had the opportunity to share a new challenge with their groups and seek strategies to try. Faculty feedback for this process has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are excited to be working closely together to authentically support students and to address their most critical needs.
Teachers spent the latter half of the workday looking at the scope and sequence of their Montessori curriculum, evaluating it with a fine-toothed comb to ensure fidelity and best-practice in every classroom. This “big work” is just one more way we are reflecting on our practice and ensuring that every student at GMS is engaged in meaningful work as they progress from Toddler through Junior High.
Through intentional planning, we make professional development at GMS relevant and meaningful. We consistently follow-up with faculty to ensure we are meeting their needs and supporting their professional growth. From workshops, trainings, and conferences to observations at other schools, professional development offers inspiration and connection for GMS teachers.
Greensboro Montessori School partners with Scholastic Book Fairs every fall and spring. All students in Primary and older have an opportunity to visit the Book Fair and purchase books during the school day. We prefer students do not bring cash to school. Instead, Scholastic Book Fairs has an eWallet payment option. Simply set up an account and have funds immediately available for your child to purchase books.
Set Up Your Child's eWallet
Follow these steps to set up your child's eWallet:
- Visit our Scholastic Book Fair homepage.
- Scroll to the "eWallet" section of the page, and click "Get Started."
- Review how it works, and click "Create eWallet."
- "Sign in" or "Register" with Scholastic Book Fairs. Note, if you have previously created an account, please use the same login information.
- Complete the form to set up an eWallet. Follow the prompts to fund your child's eWallet. (Note, after creating one eWallet, you may add others for additional children. Click "Manage My Funds" to visit the eWallet tab. Click the arrow in the bottom right to show your first child's full account, and click "+ Add eWallet.")
- If you have funds that your child(ren) did not use during a previous Book Fair, you will see an option to fund your eWallet with a "gift card." This "gift card" holds the balance from the last fair, and clicking that option will transfer the balance to your child's current eWallet.
- If you had a balance on multiple eWallets, the balances have been combined on this one "gift card," which will transfer to the new eWallet you create.
- Once complete, you may print a paper voucher for your child to bring to school, or we can look up your child's eWallet by their name.
Come to Our Book Fair
We look forward to welcoming students, parents, and family members at the following community shopping times.
- Tuesday, October 10: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 11: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Thursday, October 12: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Friday, October 13: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Sunday, October 15: 2 to 5 p.m.
If you are interested in volunteering at the Book Fair, please click here to sign up.
If you have any questions about the Book Fair, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Over the course of the next few months, nearly half of the Toddlers in our School will be making a foray into the wonderful world of Greensboro Montessori School's Primary program. This transition brings with it a mixed bag of emotions for young children (not to mention their parents and teachers). Though the idea of becoming one of those big kids in the enchanting world on the other side of the playground fence can be very exciting, the thought of leaving behind beloved teachers and classmates and mastering the challenging materials in the Primary classroom can be very daunting for advancing toddlers. At times, well-meaning adults discuss this transition in ways that can actually heighten young children's apprehension. Here are a few things to consider as we prepare our little ones for a classroom transition:
Avoid "overtalking" about the impending changes. For adults, having ample opportunity to ask questions and share our feelings about an upcoming transition can be a comfort. We may worry that our children won't know what to expect from their new classroom unless we initiate frequent discussions and provide ample detail. For young children, though, too much information can be overwhelming and confusing. Because they learn experientially, young children may not grasp the reality of how things will feel in their new classroom until they have physically visited the space, met the teachers, and absorbed the sights, sounds, and sensations first-hand. It's perfectly fine to mention the change - conveying that you are excited about it and confident in their readiness for the new classroom - but, for the most part, it's best to follow your child's lead. The most helpful discussions will be the ones your toddler initiates!
Avoid tying new skills to Primary advancement. It can be tempting to entice children to practice new skills by pointing out how important they are for Primary students. However, suggestions that toddlers learn to use the potty, dress themselves, or tackle other developmental tasks "so they can go to Primary" can sometimes backfire. Even children who seem excited about the prospect of "moving up" can harbor anxieties about the transition ... and may not be so sure they really want to go. In fact, they may even delay the acquisition of self-care skills to avoid the prospect of being moved into a new and unfamiliar environment. It's wonderful to express the love and pride you feel when your child attains a new milestone, but keep the topic entirely separate from expectations that may be attached to their classroom placement.
A few setbacks are perfectly normal. At times, parents are surprised to find that their "big kids" suddenly takes three steps back in behavior, separation anxiety, or even toileting before or during classroom transitions. Don't worry; this too shall pass. Translated from the toddler speak, these setbacks are children's way of asking whether they will still get the nurturing and support they relished as infants and toddlers, even though they are heading into big-kid territory. A little extra cuddling and reassurance will help your child get back to their independent ways in time.
Rest assured, you are in for a treat! Call us biased, but we're not exaggerating when we say that the Primary faculty at Greensboro Montessori School is one of the most talented teams imaginable. You'll be astounded by the many ways your child will learn and grow during the Primary years - and by the dedication and expertise of their teachers. Watching children leave our classroom nest is the hardest part of teaching, but knowing they are going into such incredibly dedicated and capable hands makes things much easier. We can't wait to gaze at our "alumni" over the playground fence next year, and marvel at the ways they are spreading their wings!
Dr. Maria Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950, and again in 1951. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, becoming the youngest man to receive the honor at the time. They were both influenced in their work for peace by Mahatma Gandhi. In the 1930’s Maria Montessori met Mahatma Gandhi while she was living in India, and Gandhi gave a speech to Montessori teachers in training in London in 1931. There he said of her work, “You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.” While Dr. King did not meet Gandhi in person, he referred to him as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”
These three peacemakers have been great influencers across cultures. Dr. Montessori established educational training programs that have led to thousands of schools all around the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized peaceful protests that changed civil rights laws in the United States and inspired future peaceful protest around the world. They all changed the world through peaceful efforts.
At Greensboro Montessori School, we implement the peace curriculum at every age level - from guiding toddlers to self calm to teaching peaceful conflict resolution in our preschool and elementary classrooms, to visiting the United Nations in Junior High. We seek to provide experiences for children to understand and access the peace within themselves, to relate with other people, cultures, and the environment, and to embrace the complexity of humankind. When children are given opportunities to practice peace within themselves, they will be able to share it with others and seek it out in the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” These peacemakers have influenced generations. And inspired by their work, Greensboro Montessori School is educating the next generation of peacemakers and innovators.
Shakiyah Stephens joined our School in 2019 as a member of our Lower Elementary CASA team. She holds her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Guilford College, and prior to joining us, she worked with children from 2 years old through school-aged in various roles with early childhood and after-school programs. Shakiyah most recently led our Primary Encore and Primary CASA Blue programs during the 2021-22 school year.
In the morning, Shakiyah partners with Anna Betina in the Half-Day Toddler classroom. In the afternoons, she reunites with her friends in Primary who still take a nap after lunch. While 2022 may be her first year teaching in Toddler, Shakiyah has a passion for our youngest students, and her personal experience as a new mother only expands her compassion and respect for her students.
GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School
SS: My first time hearing about Greensboro Montessori School was from a close friend, who at the time had started working in the after-school CASA program.
GMS: Word of mouth is always our best source of referrals. What was it about GMS that made you choose to work here?
SS: Upon moving to Greensboro, I drove by the school and it caught my attention because we had just learned about Maria Montessori and her philosophy in class the week before. I had never seen a Montessori school before. But in the moment of driving by, something inside told me, "this is where you belong." I was eager to get in and get started on this new journey. I honestly believe the school chose me, and I'm glad it did!
GMS: You have a degree in early childhood education, and you have several years of experience working with elementary-aged students. What excites you most about returning to a toddler classroom?
SS: I’ve always had a passion to work with toddlers. What excites me most about returning to a Toddler classroom is that I get to see the world through their eyes again.
GMS: Toddlers are pretty special in their wonder and awe of the the world around them. Shifting to Montessori specifically, what aspect of the Montessori method inspires you the most?
SS: Having respect for each child. We tend to forget that children are humans too, with feelings and needs. It has been very helpful for me remember that with Savannah.
GMS: We can't wait to hear more about Savannah. Before we get to her, what are you excited to learn from your students, and what are you excited to bring to them?
SS: I'm excited to learn how to be an explorer. They are master explorers. You would be surprised at how much they actually know about a topic from just exploring and their own concept of things.
I’m bringing confidence. I want every child to feel confident in everything they do.
GMS: What are you excited to learn from your fellow faculty members, and what are you excited to share with them?
SS: I’m excited to learn more teaching strategies from each level and how they are applied. I’m excited to share my team efforts and willingness attitude.
GMS: Now we come back to Savannah. Is anyone else from your family part of our GMS community?
SS: This school year, [my partner and I] enrolled our daughter Savannah into the GMS All-Day Toddler classroom. I believe she will do great things at GMS! We are exited to see.
GMS: What do you love most about motherhood?
SS: Her joy of life itself. When I’m with Savannah, nothing matters in that moment, but her. I love seeing her grow into herself. She loves music and dancing, so we do a lot that together. She always runs into my arms for a hug. It's a feeling I wouldn’t trade for the world.
GMS: Where did you grow up, and do you mind sharing one favorite memory from childhood?
SS: I grew up in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Its a small town, where everyone knows everyone. 9 times out of 10 you will marry someone from town (my partner is from Kings Mountain), but it was a great place to grow up. One of my favorite memories from my childhood was creating club houses off in the woods, with my neighborhood friends. We would be out in the woods for hours after school and during the summer. My clothes and shoes would be so dirty, but I would get the best sleep at night!
GMS: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work
SS: Besides the gym, I would like to get back into hiking.
GMS: One current hobby and one hobby you'd like to add. You sound like a mom with a 18 month old who last little time to herself. With your limited free time, what's something you don’t get to do often but it still feeds your soul?
SS: Go out with my friends and just vibe together. I don't get to see them often, but when I do, it is ALWAYS guaranteed good time!
GMS: So the next time you go out with friends, will it be for coffee or cocktails?
SS: Cocktails all the way. I think only one of my friends drinks coffee. We are a brunch and mimosa group of friends.
GMS: When you're at the gym, what is your favorite exercise and why?
SS: This is hard! I have three, but if I have to choose, it's weighted squats and weight lifting. It's the feeling when you cleared a set, and go up on another set. Just to see if you can do it (for both). It's the preparation period in that moment when I’m pumping myself up and getting ready to take the bar off the rank ... when I squat and drive my heels into the ground to get it back up. Just strong and proud in that moment.
GMS: I have a feeling that answer will inspire someone to get back to the gym to experience that power, strength, and fulfillment. I've loved our exchange, and it's time to wrap up. Let's close with a question we've ask in all of our faculty spotlights. Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?
SS: Frederick Douglass. I recently watched a documentary about him, and during the documentary I got a sense that he was a man that had strong determination. It was felt through many of his speeches. One of my favorite speeches of his is the one he gave on the Fourth of July. It was one of those speeches that had so much power and attitude that you just can't forget.
Liz Haff joined us this year after a 25-year teaching career in Maryland, where she also served on several committees focused on parent family connection and student relationships. In addition to her wealth of experience, Liz's academic résumé includes a Montessori teaching credential in Early Childhood (2 1/2 to 6 years old), a Master of Science in curriculum instruction from Western Maryland College, and a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Binghamton.
Liz partners with Shyla Butler in our Primary 2 classroom. While 2022 may be her first year at GMS, Liz already feels like family. Her warmth and intentionality shine through our interview for this Faculty Spotlight.
GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?
LH: Last school year, I knew I was looking to return to Montessori education. I also found the city of Greensboro which seemed to be everything I was looking for in a place to live. I asked myself: “I wonder if there is a Montessori school in Greensboro, so I typed Greensboro Montessori School into my Google search, and there you were!
GMS: We wish we we could thank our SEO strategy for that perfect Google result, but you guessed our School's name on the first try! What made you choose to join our School?
LH: Greensboro Montessori School basically swept me off my feet. I discerned it to be a heart first school, and one in which I very much want to be a part of now.
GMS: We're so happy you're here. You’ve spent the last several years teaching elementary students, yet you've chosen to join our Primary team. What do you love about Primary-age students?
LH: So much. Mostly it’s the openness that I most love about this age. Every time I meet and become friends with people in the age group of 3-6 especially, I feel as if I am communicating with people who are awake: interested in learning, curious about the world, and in love with life.
GMS: You just reminded anyone who knows a 3- to 6-year-old how magical this age truly is. Now that we know why the age group inspires you, what is it about Montessori that you love?
LH: Choice, for sure. I am sort of obsessed with choice. It is such a wonderful experience for humans to choose what to read, think, touch, see……. It is our ability to choose that helps define us and create us. I believe in providing choice to students and watching how they respond.
GMS: What are you excited to learn from your students, and what are you excited to bring to them?
LH: I am looking forward to getting to know a new group of people: their likes and dislikes, what makes them laugh, and how I might help them better navigate their world. I will bring respect to them: for how they see the world, and how I might help them learn from it.
GMS: It's hard to change topics after that answer, and we have to know: did anyone else move with you from Maryland?
LH: My husband Tom and our dog Darby (pictures below) moved to Greensboro with me. It has been a great adventure already as we explore the Greenways together, and the little eateries.
GMS: Do you have your own children?
LH: I do! Yay! I have three Montessori children! They are all adults now pursuing their passions in the world. Jim lives in Atlanta and is a martial arts instructor and a musician who performs every weekend in Macon, Georgia! Andrew is my second born son who is a middle school history teacher who teaches in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a Fulbright scholar who taught in Vietnam for a while. He loves harping and singing as hobbies when he is not teaching. My daughter Caitlin is an attorney who attended NYU in New York City. We are great friends and our favorite thing to do is laugh together and be silly.
GMS: We can't wait to meet them! Now, it's your turn to tell us more about you. What are your hobbies?
LH: I love writing, I blog regularly. I love laughing. I have enjoyed singing since I was very young, and I have been a member of many singing groups. Darby and I love to walk the greenways and admire the trees of Greensboro.
GMS: I overheard our director lower school, Missy McClure, mention a faculty and staff talent show recently. Maybe we could all hear you sing one day. In the meantime, it’s a Friday afternoon, and you need a pick-me-up. Do you reach for a salty snack or a sweet treat?
Sweet and salty treats are awesome. I also adore peaches and olives.
GMS: Of all the places you’ve traveled to, what is your favorite destination and why?
LH: My most favorite place is the beach, and Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina in particular. I used to love riding the waves over and over again. Now I love to take my chair down to the water’s edge and dream my dreams.
GMS: If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been before, where would it be and why?
LH: I would like to go to all the toy stores in the world, especially ones where a lot of the toys are out to touch and not wrapped up in plastic.
I also want to see Lake Superior with my daughter-in-law Katherine. I love wild natural places, with hopes of seeing wild animals.
GMS: Okay, so the next toy store you have visit is Toys & Co. in Greensboro. We think you'll have tons of fun. Speaking of fun, what is one fun fact about you that we wouldn’t learn about you without asking?
LH: I have a twin brother whom many people call Uncle Jim. I adore him, and he makes me laugh more than anyone in the world. He wrote a play and it had a debut in New York City for a week! When we were in high school we performed in "Mame." I was Mame and he was my nephew, Patrick. That experience was Awesome!!!!!
GMS: Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?
LH: I would love to meet Frederick Douglass because I am so inspired that he taught himself to read when he was young. I am impressed by Great Ideas and anyone who can express themselves in writing well!
GMS: We have adored this interview. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
LH: I am very happy to be a part of Greensboro Montessori School. Everyone I have met is encouraging, kind and joyful. I know this is where I am meant to be.
GMS: In concluding out interview, we realize we didn't ask you about your extensive volunteer work. We know how humble you are, so we're going to share for you. While working in Maryland, you supported both your local community and those from afar. You raised $1,500 for tsunami relief for people in Indonesia in 2018, and during the height of pandemic, you and Tom assembled 100 care kits filled with toys to help children experiencing trauma. (We used the picture you shared with us from this work as you blog's header image.)Thank you for your caring and generous spirit.
Beth Wilson will join our Upper Elementary teaching team this fall. Beth has spent the last 20 years at a Montessori school in Minnesota. She also has a decade of experience training Montessori educators at the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at St. Catherine's University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beth earned her Master of Arts in Education with a focus on Montessori studies from St. Catherine's and her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She holds multiple Montessori teaching credentials spanning the totality of Elementary and Adolescent education (ages 6 to 18).
As Beth enjoys her last summer in Minnesota, we wanted to get to know her better in anticipation on her arrival. We recently spent some "digital" time with her learning more about her passion for Montessori education and her favorite flavor of ice cream. Here's our interview:
GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?
BW: I wasn’t actually looking for a new teaching position. I was casually browsing the Montessori Jobs group on Facebook, and a few clicks later I came across the job post on the American Montessori Society's [AMS] website. After reading the job description, I knew that I had to apply. It was like fate.
GMS: As an AMS-accredited school, we love that you found us through AMS. Why did you ultimately choose to join our School?
BW: After getting to know Kevin, meeting the staff, and spending time at the school, I knew it was the right place for me. I feel like it’s my “dream school” – the kind of place that every teacher hopes that they get to be a part of in their career.
GMS: We are equally excited to welcome you to our community. What is it about the Montessori method that inspires you the most, that keeps you teaching, learning, and growing in this pedagogy?
BW: I love the freedom to follow sparks of interest, that there is time to explore ideas and curiosities. I also love the interconnectedness of the Montessori curriculum: rather than each subject area being taught as a separate entity, the children learn about how one area cannot exist without another, such as how we cannot have art without geometry or science without math.
GMS: You will join our Upper Elementary division this fall. What is your favorite part about working with Upper Elementary students?
BW: I love the enthusiasm of Upper Elementary students. They are more independent than Lower Elementary students but still so excited about the world. Their imaginations are big and their wonder about how everything fits together is empowering to me.
GMS: Speaking of the students, what are you excited to learn from them, and what are you excited to share with them?
BW: I want to learn all about Greensboro Montessori and North Carolina! I’ve only visited the state once, and that was when I came to spend time at the school. I want to learn all the great places to visit, any cool history about the state, and what they think makes GMS special to them.
As for me, I really want to share my love of animals with the students (my bunny, Hufflepuff, and two leopard geckoes, Pinky and Floyd, are joining us in the classroom), and I have already asked Doug if we can help with the chickens. I also want to share my love of art, and I try to include as much creativity into our lessons as possible.
GMS: So Hufflepuff, Pinky, and Floyd are moving with you from Minnesota. Who else is relocating with you?
BW: My husband, John, and our 13 year old and youngest child, Melanie (pictured below), are embarking on this grand adventure with me. We’re also bringing along our big brown dog, Yoshi and our little kitty, Kasumi (also pictured below).
GMS: The family photo you sent us (at the top of this post) has a lot more people in it.
BW: Yes, that’s my whole beautiful, crazy family. It’s from a few years ago, but it’s the best one I have of all of us. From left to right: My son Zach (24), my husband John, my son Will (21), and my oldest son, Nate (27). Then, it’s me and our daughter, Melanie, who will be joining junior high at GMS.
GMS: We hope to meet the whole fam one day. In the meantime, we'd love to learn some more fun stuff about you. Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t learn from your résumé or CV?
BW: Hmm … I’m addicted to Diet Coke, and I’m a sucker for a good donut. Or cookie. Actually, pretty much anything that’s sweet. But not marshmallows. I hate marshmallows.
GMS: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
BW: My husband would say that I have too many hobbies. Reading and drawing are my biggest loves, and then after that, I love quilting. I’m a big sci-fi fan, and although I do love Marvel movies, I’d pick Star Wars over them any day. I love to go camping and take hikes, and my life would not be complete without a horse in it.
GMS: Once you’re settled here, where are you most excited to travel to on the East Coast?
BW: I really want to go to the Outer Banks. "Misty of Chincoteague" was a favorite childhood book of mine, and I really want to see the wild ponies. I also want to see the mountains. We have lots of trees and lakes in Minnesota, but no ocean and no mountains.
GMS: Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?
BW: Oh, there’s so many people I would love to meet, and it’s hard to narrow it down. Jane Austin is a favorite author of mine, and I’ve always admired the art of Franz Marc. I would try not to pester them about their work so much, but rather I’d like to just hang out with them as regular people, maybe hit a brewery or catch a Twins game.
GMS: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
BW: Anything with coconut in it. I love the Almond Joy ice cream they have at fancy ice cream shops. If grocery store ice cream is what I’m choosing from, then it’s Breyers vanilla bean ice cream.
GMS: We have some great ice cream parlor's in Greensboro. We'll have to go once you're here. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
BW: Just that I am so excited to be joining the GMS family! And no, most of Minnesota is not like the Fargo movie, except those snow scenes. Those are pretty spot on.
Greensboro Montessori School's Upper School students took a leading role in Friday's Earth Day celebration. Upper Elementary students kicked off the morning with readings of original poetry and Spanish. After the program (which we shared live on Facebook), Junior High students hosted Lower and Upper Elementary students at eight different different stations set up on the Athletic Field. Each station featured an activity to to raise awareness for Earth Day, including ideas for recycling, composting, and even limiting our waste. Primary students enjoyed a lesson with our environmental educators, Chelsi Crawford and Sara Stratton. Toddler students took everything in from their shaded mats under the trees, just steps away from their play yards.
The original poetry shared by our Upper Elementary students highlights our integrated curriculum. Students combine their skills in English, Spanish, creative writing, science, environmental education, public speaking, and leadership all at once. We are honored to publish their work for all to experience.
Redbud Tree Lydia, Sixth Grade The Eastern redbud tree, purple blossoms in early spring. Small beacons of colour adorn the dull, monochromatic landscape. Bursts that spring is just around the corner. As the blossoms begin to fade, they get swept away by the gusts of wind that spring brings. Petite purple petals pressed onto the ground as they get trampled by tiny feet. But not all is lost, leaves that are a deep crimson, like garnet, or a sharp, zesty lime the size of a hand unfurl. The leaves are shaped like spades. Desperately trying to hold onto their branches by their paper-thin stems. Through treacherous storms they hold on, not falling yet, for the leaves have roots of their own. The redbud tree is eternally stretching, reaching its roots through the mycelium and soil, while the branches are competing for the warm rays of sunlight. The uneasy cottontail rests by the roots of the tree, protected by the lush canopy from the hungry hawks’ view. During autumn, the leaves of the redbud tree glow orange, like a campfire. Only turning into a bonfire as the chorus of the other deciduous trees chime in in the early November. Then, the redbud tree goes to sleep as the long, cold winter days begin.
Día de la Tierra Upper Elementary Group A
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es el único planeta que temenos.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es nuestra casa y nuestro hogar.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque vivimos en ella.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque hay animales, árboles, océanos y más.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa para todos los tipos de vidas.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque nos da comida.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa de todos.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es muy bonita. Los humanos debemos comprender que no se debe hacer daño a la Tierra.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque o si no nos extinguieremos.
- Debemos cuidar la tierra porque es nuestra protectora y nuestro hogar.
sphagnum Tanner, Fourth Grade The sphagnums dance in the rain like an umbrella being twirled. The sphagnums dance in the rain on the mother tree. The sphagnums dance in the rain in the rainforest. The sphagnums dance in the rain under the shade. The sphagnums dance in the rain and the damp mother tree is playing her music. The sphagnums dance in the rain, their spore capsules open up and the spores fly away. The sphagnums dance in the rain as the 10,000 ancestors watch them. The sphagnum dances in the rain, the calm green color is shimmering on as the rain falls on them, the sphagnums dance in the rain; they have no roots, stems, leaves or seeds. The sphagnums dance in the rain, they can grow until they run out of room. The sphagnums dance in the rain in their fuzzy soft coats. The sphagnums dance in the rain. They are used for medicine to save peoples lives. The sphagnums dance in the rain; they get picked and re-planted to make a garden look nicer. The sphagnums dance in the rain.
You may have noticed an unusual orange fruit in your child’s book bag this week. You may even have asked, "what is this?"
Originally from Asia, and morphologically considered a berry, the persimmon is a lovely fruit that matures to a deep orange color in late Autumn. If you’ve ever visited Greensboro Montessori School's Primary Garden, you’ve probably noticed our beloved persimmon tree, planted over 20 years ago by master permaculturalist, Charlie Headington. In the years since, this tree has been lovingly pruned and harvested by our favorite garden coordinator, car line greeter facilities assistant, and student support pal, Aubrey Cupit.
Generations of GMS students share a collective nostalgia for the flavor of the persimmon. To them, it seems a rare, exotic fruit with notes of magic and pure joy only attainable from our grounds. Students begin asking for persimmon snacks in our Environmental Education classes on the very first day of school, and then every subsequent day until we cut into the first ripe persimmon in October. It would be difficult to adequately describe the infectious wave of excitement when our students find out we are having persimmons for snack.
A firm persimmon tastes like a combination of honey, peach, and mango, with earthy undertones and the texture of an apple. For those unfamiliar with this fruit, I would recommend eating it raw, just like an apple, skin and all. Others prefer to bake softer persimmon pulp into pancakes, bread, or cookies. Persimmons work well in savory applications such as persimmon vinaigrette and other meat-based dishes akin to pork and apples. Dehydrated persimmon pulp creates a delicious fruit leather, while dehydrated persimmon slices make an excellent snack.
Each of the five persimmon trees on campus have produced bountiful fruit this season! In an effort to share the persimmon love, we’re sending at least one persimmon home with every single student within our GMS community. Enjoy!
- NPR: Ancient Japanese Food Craft Brings Persimmons To American Palates
- Martha Stewart: 12 Persimmon Recipes Everyone Should Make This Fall
- Wikipedia: Persimmon
About the Author
Chelsi Crawford is Greensboro Montessori School's lead environmental educator. Prior to joining our School in 2018, Chelsi was the assistant farm manager for Clemson University's sustainable agriculture program. In this role, Chelsi assisted with all farm duties pertaining to planning, food production, and harvest, in addition to managing a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share program providing fresh produce for over 100 families weekly. Chelsi received both her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology (with a minor in biology) and her Master of Science in natural resources from North Carolina State University. She also has a published journal article focused on educational resources and dissemination of information to organic farmers throughout North Carolina.