I had a beautiful start to my Sunday morning at the ASCD Conference. I had the opportunity to be inspired. There is no greater feeling that hearing passionate educators tell their school’s journey to discovering what works for their students! I have been fortunate to hear many schools’ stories at this year’s ASCD conference, but this experience was extra special. I had the rare chance to eat breakfast with educators from Washington Montessori School in North Carolina. The school was the recipient of the 2014 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award Winner. It was a beautiful start to my day – at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning.
You can read more about the school and reasons behind their ASCD award here. But behind the excitement and honor of the award are compassionate educators, just like so many educators around the world. Educators who are brave enough to look at the challenges they face and embrace them. When Washington School was slated for closure, the principal and staff took it upon themselves to research effective models to implement and turn their situation around. The school decided on the Montessori method. They embraced the philosophy, a child-centered educational approach. They diligently wrote grants to transform their old elementary school building and their educational methods. They established a PUBLIC, neighborhood Montessori School – a school that surrounds the whole child with love and support – to serve their student body, 78 percent of which qualify for free or reduced lunch.
The educators I met on Sunday made me believe anything is possible if a school staff moves forward with the collective belief that all students can and will achieve at high levels. What is happening at Washington Montessori can happen in other schools. The educational approach doesn’t matter – what matters is that they COLLECTIVELY BELIEVE in the approach or practice and all move forward with that COMMON FOCUS. As the educators spoke I witnessed the deep sense of pride in their school and their students. They each articulated the practices of the school in a similar manner – right down to the consistent routines and expectations for students and staff. It was evident that classroom practices were not acting as isolated silos.
They mentioned that their principal, Sharon Jacobs, often says You Can Only Get It Right Here and all staff members believe that to be true. After our breakfast together I thought more about that statement. The statement isn’t unique to Washington Montessori. Shouldn’t all schools have a deep sense of pride and be able to express that their programs and approaches are the best fit for the students they serve.
Thank you for the inspiration, Washington Montessori staff! Congratulations on the recognition of your dedication to your students! They are truly fortunate they can only get it right there!
During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge! More Slice of Life posts can be found on Two Writing Teachers.