Magazine article Montessori Life

Heading Forward

Magazine article Montessori Life

Heading Forward

Article excerpt

I am honored to be serving heads of schools, some of the most passionate Montessori leaders I know, as your representative to the AMS Board. Having been a head of school for more than 30 years, it is a privilege to know many of you personally and to have been inspired by countless more of you at seminars, conferences, and retreats, by your tireless efforts on behalf of and commitment to your school communities.

Some of you may be starting out in your careers as heads of schools. We welcome you on this journey; we share so many things in common and, as we move forward in this new century, we will encounter greater challenges that will require sharing our collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom. If you are not on the AMS Heads of Schools ListServer, I encourage you to sign on.* The questions posed on the listserver involve everyone in our realm of influence teachers, students, and parents - and the e-mail responses come flying in from all over the country. Some discussions are unique to running a school; some require greater expertise in law or a particular state's codes. I will try to keep my finger on the pulse of the concerns that register on this larger worldwide community "party line" and respond to particular needs by recommending the addition of experts to the tracks for heads of schools at AMS conferences.

I grew up in a small, rural southern Indiana farming community named Popcorn, where our family of 7 was immersed in the glorious abundance and realities of nature, daily experiencing the interdependence of humans and animals, and appreciating neighbors who had hearts to give and hands to help when needed. Even now, in the middle of Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, I have cultivated those childhood feelings of loving connectedness to the world. At Montessori Country Day School, our school's culture and many traditions are similar to those of the community of interconnected beings I so loved back in Popcorn. We are all connected to a greater whole and our base, our anchor, is the child. This sense of being rooted by the child in Montessori is our connection; in this day and time, when people can feel alienated and overwhelmed, know that you have a worldwide network of like-minded, collaborative brothers and sisters, who are ready to share what they know.

One of my most memorable moments as a Montessorian came at a New York annual conference, the year Fred Rogers of PBS fame was our keynote speaker. I remember there were more than 4,000 people who came to hear him speak. He played the piano, sang some songs, and spoke to us as the extraordinary gentle, powerful soul we all knew him to be. For some reason, as he was ending his presentation, most of the 4,000 people in attendance started crying. Elena, a colleague who had traveled from Russia just for the conference, found herself crying, too, but she did not understand why. She said it was the deepest, most "connected to the universe" feeling she had ever experienced, and yet, she did not even know who Mr. Rogers was.

My wish is that we can maintain connections to each other by our commonalities in "Mr. Rogers/ way" without having to know each other. One of the books I often give as a gift is The World According to Mr. Rogers, a small tome of quotes. On page 40, he says:

Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else. I've felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that "the miles we go before we sleep" will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring - delight, sadness, joy, wisdom - and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see the new beginnings. …

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