Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be shifting my focus a bit closer to home as I profile each of the classrooms at my wonderful home away from home, The Montessori School of Ojai. Along with photographs of each classroom, the students in action, and a peep into the daily schedule of each of class, you’ll also be treated to a brief Q&A with the head teacher.
Jenny received her own early education at Montessori School of Ojai. After attending Chico State University, Jenny returned to Ojai and came to work first in the Child Care program and then as an assistant, while pursuing her Child Development Education. She has completed Montessori Teacher Training under Dr. Victoria Matthews and Montessori Infant Teacher Training and the Preschool-Kindergarten Teacher Training Courses through the North American Montessori Center. She has worked with every age group at the school, but her love of infants inspired her to be instrumental in the development and start of the Infant Program at MSO. Jenny serves as a Montessori Teacher Trainer.
What does the school day look like in Room 3?
Room 3 is always a hive of activity. Children come in the morning and find work. I feel that the children in my room are eager to find work right away. They are excited to explore the room and help me create new works. When they are done eating snack, they discard the snack they don’t want, pour the water into our water bucket, then they wash their own dishes. The contents of the water bucket are used by the plant monitor to water the classroom plants. When we line up to go outside, we go over who is here and who is not so the children are involved in learning about the children in their classroom. Group is a time when we can go over our unit, read stories and sing songs. We also end our day with a song so the children know its nap time or time to go home!
Describe your classroom in six words:
energetic, eager, absorbent, passionate, loving and enthusiastic
What’s your favorite area of your classroom?
I love the Science and Geography area! Lucy, our Bearded Dragon is there! I enjoy Science and Geography because the world fascinates me. I feel this age group is really into learning about the world around them.
If you were a student, which work would you choose first?
Hands down, I’d choose the Knobbed Cylinders! Knobbed cylinders have been my favorite work since I was a little girl at MSO. They are very calming but also challenging when you are doing more than one block.
What do you find gives your students the most internal satisfaction? When they complete a specific task? When they help others? When they do their classroom job?
I notice that my students receive the most internal satisfaction when they a complete task like one of their works or their classroom job. I call it the internal smile coming through. The pride on a child’s face when they complete a task is breathtaking. You truly can see the warmth of the child come through. My kids are amazing!
What do you bring to your classroom? Your enthusiasm? Your love of learning? Your large heart?
I bring my loving enthusiasm to the room. The children allow me to bring out my creative side and explore different ways to teach the children. I also bring a respect for the children to my classroom. They are awesome little humans that need respect just like everyone.
What about the Montessori teaching philosophy most speaks to you as a teacher?
I love that we teach individually. Every child is different, so every child learns differently. I like figuring out how each child learns and functions. It’s exciting to figure out how each child sees the world. I just feel lucky that I was raised in a Montessori world and I can help other children see the world how they need/want to see the world.
What is the most important thing for parents to understand about Montessori schools?
Not all Montessori schools are the same. The philosophy is the same but how you interpret it can be different. Maria Montessori was a pioneer for both women and children. With her philosophy the world changed. We started to understand the importance of children. Montessori schools try to create individuals and the whole child.
If money, time and energy were no object, what would you want most for your classroom and your students? The school?
I would love it if town (Ojai) were closer to us because there are so many places to explore and take the children. It’s hard to pack up my classroom and go on field trips with all the car seats. If town were closer we would be able to walk more places. I love our campus and all it has to offer, so I wouldn’t want to leave it, but I would love to move our town of Ojai to us.
What are your goals as an educator? (These can be long-term or short-term)
To keep growing as a teacher and a Montessorian. I want to continue growing. I love my job and the feeling of happiness it gives me. I want to prepare the children for the future and the challenges they might face.
Thank you, Jenny!