A Deep Respect for the Child

Dear Friends,

I had the pleasure of visiting Hershey Montessori in Huntsburg, OH this past Monday. Hershey Montessori is a middle school/high school program near Cleveland. I was interested in visiting because it serves as a national model for Dr. Maria Montessori’s intentions for an adolescent program. It sits on 97 acres, and the students participate in caring for the land and animals (goats, chickens, bees, pigs). It was inspiring to see Maria Montessori’s vision for an adolescent program come to life.

While I was there, it made me reflect on our own elementary program and how closely it aligns to the vision and values Dr. Montessori set forth. One of her revolutionary ideas that shook the foundation of education was very simple: have a deep respect for the child. A primary action for showing respect is through careful observation. The child deserves our attention. We cannot understand their needs and how they can best flourish unless we understand who they are, what they are interested in, and how they learn.

You will see our teachers sitting, taking notes, and meeting with colleagues to discuss what they’ve observed – shifting their approach to help a child feel successful, seen, and understood. It is a courageous endeavor because it means they might need to rethink what they thought was “best” for the child and adjust their preconceptions. Or they may need to have difficult conversations around parental desires for certain outcomes that don’t align with where the child is at. Ultimately, these are all healthy tensions. Pushing, reflecting, balancing the act of loving a child for who they are at this moment – while encouraging them to grow, fail, learn, and develop resilience and independence.

In this balancing act of helping children flourish and develop, I think The New School Montessori stands as a national model. The partnership our teachers have with parents, combined with the deep respect the teachers have for the child, serves as an exemplar for other Montessori communities. We follow the child together. We guide, observe, adjust, respect, and learn together. Thank you for being a part of this amazing community.

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