Where are you now?
I’m currently at Trinity University studying a wide variety of subjects and… of course, music and theater. Looking back at my MVM years, analyzing and understanding Shakespeare was one of my favorite things we did in class. Any word or phrase we didn’t understand, we highlighted and Dr. Hans explained. Thanks to those hours of getting into The Bard’s head, I have a much deeper and insightful connection to his works than my peers, even in college.
How did your experience in Montessori School prepare you for the life you have now?
Throughout my years of Montessori experience, one of the greatest skills I learned has been independence. This applies to how I search for knowledge and how I keep myself on track with my work. Many people around me were concerned about my transition from Monte Vista Montessori to Saint Mary’s Hall high school, thinking that I would be at a disadvantage because of lack of experience with homework and traditional evaluations. However, as I quickly found out, I was better prepared than many who had been in private traditional schools all their life, because Montessori teaches skills of self-guidance and self-discipline.
Because I grew up in a Montessori environment, grades do not control my academic motivations. Instead, developing personal interests and harnessing the power of curiosity are what really fuel my pursuit of knowledge. I am extremely thankful that Monte Vista Montessori has taught me that the number grade on a page does not define my abilities or who I am.
My middle school years with Dr. Hans gave me a well-rounded education that was not limited to discrete 45-minute blocks where learning happens on some one else’s schedule, with no connections formed between subjects. I was free to pursue what I wanted, but there were also parameters such as daily Euclidean geometry, analysis and close reading of a Shakespeare play, and group writing times. Taking dictation of a proposition, constructing the figures, and writing the proofs taught me to think critically about math. We involved all of the senses in learning geometry (except maybe scent), which made the information more meaningful and understandable. Analyzing and understanding Shakespeare was one of my favorite things we did in class. Any word or phrase we didn’t understand, we highlighted and Dr. Hans explained. Thanks to those hours of getting into The Bard’s head, I have a much deeper and insightful connection to his works than my peers, even in college. The group writing sessions gave me a deep and solid foundation in editing, writing, and research. To research for essays about art and art history (interests that Dr. Hans fostered, and which continue now in my first year at Trinity University), I read Dr. Hans’s large coffee table books of the Louvre’s collection and other masterpiece anthologies.
When it came time to edit our essays in the group, rather than making us memorize dry grammar structures from textbooks, Dr. Hans taught us the craft through careful listening to and reading of other people’s writing. When a grammatical issue came up, he explained why it was incorrect and then we wrote in the proper form. Thanks to those experiences, I developed an ear for what is grammatically correct—learning nominal grammar rules in high school felt like an afterthought since I knew how they were applied.
The availability of an impressively varied library was a huge benefit as well. Good writing simply cannot happen without a large amount of good reading. I developed my own writer’s voice with the help of extensive reading of fiction and nonfiction from Dr. Hans’s collection and from the local libraries. Weekly walking field trips to the library were excellent gifts to my reading and writing abilities.
I am immensely grateful to my parents for trusting in the Montessori system from my infancy to eighth-grade graduation. Monte Vista Montessori is a treasure that formed my intellect and personality in a unique, exceptional, and nurturing way. The community of teachers still feels like a family to me now, almost five years after my graduation. I will never forget their influence, since I owe so much to their dedication and mentorship.