Twin Parks Montessori - Largest Accredited Montessori Program in Manhattan

Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

Community Values and Relationships

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Our Montessori school culture is the wide-angle view of our shared mission, values, attitudes and behaviors. Relationships grow out of how we treat one another and our traditions and activities that reflect collaboration and collegiality. It can also be felt in the natural order of things and the unwritten set of rules that adults and children live by. The feel of our culture is so palpable that most visitors experience it immediately when entering our schools. Twin Parks Montessori Schools’ culture is where the journey of learning begins.

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Our faculty and staff sharing values together

Our faculty and staff sharing values together

There are many commonalities within the intimate community of our schools:  children are precious beings in our care; family time is important and protected; excellent education is vital; creativity, independence and intrinsic motivation are important life skills; and, we rely on one another to help our children experience success. The location of our schools in New York City also provides a globally diverse experience for our community.

Twin Parks’ faculty and staff communicate their shared values and build relationships. First, we are all responsible for our students’ learning. Our conversations with each other are positive and collaborative in support of serving our students and families. We are partners with parents regarding the growth and development of our students. We strive for cordial, collegial and encouraging communication with parents. Our weekly “peeks” at the activities in the classrooms, our whole school newsletters, blog, emails, socials, and coffee chats all helpto bring a greater level of understanding to our parents of what we do at school.

We also communicate our values to our students. Children learn how to take care of their specially prepared classrooms. They become keepers of their environments, classroom pets and plants. Teachers model the relationship behaviors that they know result in students’ successful communication with each other by using their words. Students learn how to take care of one another and the classroom community as a whole. Students know they belong and are valued as members of the community.

Our school culture is demonstrated by the way we make decisions. Ultimately, I make the final determinations. However, every employee has the opportunity to share his/her voice in making these decisions. Faculty meetings come alive with brainstorming and sharing of experiences – all of which help with thinking before deciding. Teachers have opportunities to interact around their craft and improve their teaching in a collaborative atmosphere.  We all work together to build a better school.  In addition, Parents’ Voice, a group of parents with representation from each classroom, meets with me monthly to explore ways to enrich our students’ and families’ experiences at Twin Parks Montessori Schools.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of our school culture is our teachers’ attitudes towards their work and their continuous efforts toward improvement. Research has shown that teachers have greater efficacy when they are provided with high quality professional development. We value current research about children and adult growth and development and strive to bring quality presentations to our school.

This first decade of life is the time when children are developing their personalities and moral compasses.  At no other time is overall growth so pronounced and rapidly changing.  Perhaps the most influential teachers are those that a child experiences during his/her first 10 years. These first teachers assist the child and his/her family as they negotiate their physical, behavioral, cognitive and social development. Your decision to enroll at one of Twin Parks Montessori Schools enables your child to experience and excel in an environment tailored to his/her developmental needs with materials that will provide comfort and challenges.

This past year, each teacher reflected on what s/he values.  For many, family rose to the top of the list. As is true for so many of you, family is considered first when making decisions.  Honesty, trust, integrity, love and personal growth were high on the list. Each year we reflect on our personal experiences and best practices as they are demonstrated through our work with our students. And so our cycle of discovery, strategic planning, and renewal that reinforces our shared purpose and values, and strengthens our school community, begins again!

May our love, values and community shine through and allow students’ physical, social and academic development thrive! Twin Parks Montessori Schools are places where the journey of learning begins!

 

Teachers enjoying their time together

Teachers enjoying their time together

Let’s put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.

~Chief Sitting Bull~

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Men in Montessori: A Teachers’ Story

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Everyone has a story about how they evolved in their career path and purpose in life. Over the next month, I will share some of Twin Parks Montessori School’s teachers’ stories about their journey to becoming a Montessori teacher. For the first in the series, I invited Jeff Frank, who has been working with us for 9 years to present his perspective of men in Montessori. Enjoy!

Jeff Frank and his family.

Jeff Frank and his family.

What influenced you to become a Montessori teacher?

For years I had volunteered my time supporting single parent friends, through a non-parent coop. I also volunteered my time as an anatomy teacher in a loosely run “free school.” I have always enjoyed working with kids. During the same time I was teaching adult anatomy classes as well as teaching in a massage school. I had a growing desire to change my career. Once my first son, Milo, was born this desire grew stronger. When he was two years old, I began researching Waldorf school and spending time getting to know different pedagogies. I began studying Waldorf education with a series of lectures. Despite my appreciation for their approach to early childhood education, I realized it was not a good fit for me as a teacher. I began reading The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori which spoke about children in a way that I had never considered. The degree of respect and potential she saw in children was starkly contrasted by the conditions in which children were being exposed to. She referred to children in desks, as butterflies pinned behind glass. As a community activist and a firm believer in progressive education I began to see working with children as more than a career. I relate my work in the classroom to the work I did as an activist defending old growth forests. 

Who were your childhood heroes?

I am not sure I ever had heroes. I found inspiration in music, particularly punk rock music from a very early age. Ironically, the bands I loved would scoff at the idea of being anyone’s hero. However, I learned that change is possible and it is up to me to do my part. I discovered community, do it yourself politics, and a role model for being a male that is different than the dominant gender role men are often expected to follow.

Who do you consider your role models?

I can identify three major role models and key women who have impacted my life beyond my mother and my wife. As a teenager, Emma Goldman, embodied the revolutionary spirit that helped give meaning and purpose to me, when my high school failed to inspire me. I found hope in fighting for change, in believing in people and community. In my twenties I discovered Ida Rolf, a pioneer in the understanding of how our bodies are organized in relationship to gravity. More so, how our emotions and belief systems shape the way we present ourselves to the world. She too, believed in change. However, she explored change from within the body both physical and emotional. She believed awareness proceeds transformation. Lastly, in my thirties, I discovered Maria Montessori, who has taught me how to put all of my hope, anger, frustration, and love into my work. She taught me that work is something we do for ourselves, not for others. She also provided a medium to express all of that and support children in their process of exploring and making sense out of the world.

Do you find working in Early Childhood education rewarding? Why?

I find working with children incredibly rewarding. As a parent I see how important teachers are to my children. I see the power teachers have to cultivate wonder, confidence, compassion, empathy, inquiry, love and so much more. I believe our community both local and global, needs all of these things and so much more. I aspire to offer children all of these things in a fun way that is mutually beneficial to me as well as the children.

What do you hope to share with your students?

A playful approach to learning. I hope to model a way of living that demonstrates the joy of learning and being part of a community. I hope to inspire questions, ideas, and a belief that our potential is limitless.

Anything else you would like to share?

I know many of my students will never remember me, but I hope the effect I have on their lives as well as their families is creating more peace and creativity in the world. I also hope it’s upping the ante on the way men interact with children.

Jeff Frank and his family.

Jeff Frank and his family.

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Kathy’s Insights