By: Debra Hall (1/16/14)
When it came to be my turn to write an article for the Compass, I thought and thought about which topic I could write about. I had many different ideas, but then I thought that maybe this would be a good opportunity to sort of introduce myself. I remember being interested in each of the staff member’s stories when Natalie first started at OakHaven!
I first came to know our beautiful school back when Natalie was little. My aunt suggested finding a Montessori school (which I had never even heard of) for her. I did a quick search online and wrote down a few schools to tour. OakHaven was my first stop. I remember observing a classroom and being totally shocked. I couldn’t believe how many very young children were peacefully working individually. I had never seen such concentration in such small children. I watched a three-year-old cut celery with a sharp knife all on her own and probably looked at Miss Sarah like she was crazy for allowing that. I watched a four-year-old put together a map of Africa and thought to myself, “I couldn’t do that!” I spoke with many different staff members and couldn’t get over how passionate each of them were about this Montessori that I was just beginning to learn about. After touring, I was completely overwhelmed with so many emotions. Somehow, it just felt like where we were meant to be. I went home and read a bunch of books on Montessori and watched videos online. Before I knew it, I was dropping my baby off for her first day of school!
The first year of Montessori was such a thrilling experience. At first it was hard to get used to dropping Natalie off every day. She had never even been to a babysitter’s house! It didn’t take long for her to feel completely comfortable with her own place. I trusted the OakHaven staff 110% and never worried when she was there. Most importantly, I knew that she was genuinely loved at school. I watched my daughter grow, mature and blossom. I couldn’t believe how much confidence emerged. Suddenly, my once attached-to-my-hip baby was doing her own thing all the time- with a purpose. I attended every parent education and sat there soaking in every bit of information that I could. I idolized the teachers! To me, their knowledge of children was (and still is!) absolutely astonishing. They just really “get” children and how to communicate with them and help them grow. They give them the respect that they deserve. Then I started volunteering to help with after hours, filling in as assistant, on the playground, cleaning, whatever I could do just to be involved! I couldn’t get enough of OakHaven!
Over the summer, I was offered the most wonderful opportunity to work after hours for summer camp. I was thrilled! I dropped Natalie and Alyssa off at camp, worked full-time at Gymboree (where I got to know a lot of you parents!), then at OakHaven in the evening. Talk about a busy summer! Although I was only there for three hours each day, I got to know more children and parents. I really felt at home every time I was there. As the end of the summer approached, I was sad to think that my time working at OakHaven was ending. So when April offered me the position as Heather’s assistant, I was beyond excited!
Getting to spend every day in the classroom with Heather has been such an incredible experience so far. It is such an honor to greet your children and see them so eager to learn. I enjoy watching them master new lessons and progress to the next. I can honestly say that I learn something new every day in class. I’m gaining such a better understanding of how each and every lesson is leading up to something bigger. Now when a relative asks me, “Why does a three-year-old need to know how to polish silver?”, I can confidently answer. My favorite and most valued times are when I get a chance to sit and observe. It’s amazing to watch each child get so involved in their work that they seem to be in their own world. I see so much growth in each child even in the short amount of time I’ve been here so far. They make me so proud!
Working at OakHaven has forever changed who I am. I feel like Montessori is a huge part of me now. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so passionate about anything in my life (other than my children, of course!) I’m planning on attending training to become a teacher when the time is right. Thank you so very much for being so warm and welcoming to me, and to every parent that joins our wonderful OakHaven family. Most importantly, thank you for sharing your precious children with us every day!