Hello, and welcome to The Absorbent Teacher! My name is Ruby Cossairt. I’m the Upper Elementary teacher at the Montessori School of Ojai, a small private school in Southern California. The Montessori School of Ojai (MSO) has students ranging from infant to Middle School and I’m lucky enough to count myself as one of the staff. If you’d like to learn more about MSO, please visit the school’s website.
I was born and raised in a small town in Southern California. As a child, I went to the Montessori school where my mother taught. I attended my mother’s school from my toddler years to the sixth grade. After a brief, painful stint in the local public junior high, I returned to independent education for high school. For the first three years of college I attended The George Washington University. I finished my Bachelor’s at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.
While I was finishing my degree, I worked full-time at a chain bookstore. I was Young, Foolish, and Full of Energy, so when my mother’s school needed someone to work a few days a week in the toddler room, I agreed. (My school does mixed age classrooms, but our demographics don’t allow us to do 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, exactly. More on that at another time.) When I graduated, the school offered me full-time employment as an assistant and I accepted. There followed a number of years assisting in the different classrooms. I worked with all ages, from 2’s to 14’s and found that I liked Upper Elementary the best. The kids are still kids, but the work was intellectually challenging.
When a head teacher position opened up, I was offered my choice of the Pre-K-K room or the Upper Elementary. I thought about it. I do like four and five year olds, but I also like working with kids who are more independent. Montessori students are resourceful and can (and do) a lot for and by themselves, but they’re still children. I chose the Upper Elementary because I felt it was the best fit for both me and any potential students I might have.
My school has a Teacher Training program, which I completed as an assistant. Our Teacher Trainer, Dr. Victoria Matthews, was also the founder of our school. She worked with Margaret Homfray and Phoebe Child, who, under the direction of Maria Montessori herself, created distance learning programs for teacher training. (For more about Margaret Homfray, please see her teacher training videos.) Feeling that I wanted some more formal education, I completed the Lower Elementary Training through the North American Montessori Center. The reason that I chose the Lower Elementary training was twofold: I call myself an Upper El teacher, but in reality, the ages I teach shift according to our demographics. At the moment, I teach second through fifth grades, with the majority on the younger end. I felt (and feel) the 6-9 curriculum had more to offer me. Plus, the 9-12 curriculum doesn’t include Advanced Practical Life! Honestly–this was a huge consideration for me.
It’s worth mentioning that I taught for a while before I realized that I’d actually become a teacher. I’d gone through a lot of career-fantasy phases up to that point: actress, doctor, physical anthropologist, editor, baker and writer. I still haven’t really given those last two up. Somewhere along the way, education became my passion. I’m very excited to be starting a blog that combines my enthusiasm for teaching with my love of writing.