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. 

Shakiyah on an outing with her Half-Day Toddler students. Shappily waves at her fellow faculty members through the window.

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.