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From India to NYC: A Montessori Teacher’s Story

From India to NYC: A Montessori Teacher’s Story

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Isha Joshi came to visit me in my office 2 years ago.  A colleague at the American Montessori Society office, Abby Kelly, told Isha to come and see Twin Parks Montessori Schools and to talk with me. She told me the story of her journey to becoming a Montessori Teacher. Isha’s passion for learning about Montessori and her desire to be a teacher inspired me to support her efforts by hiring her as an intern in our school. I have never regretted my decision to add this remarkable women to our community. Isha is kind, generous and a good friend to all. Read on for more about Isha’s story.

Isha Joshi in her Montessori classroom


What influenced you to become a Montessori teacher?

Being an educator and a parent I had always heard about Montessori Philosophy. Moving to New York gave me an opportunity to learn and experience it. Learning more about Montessori Philosophy, and its methodology and to obtain Montessori Credentials was one of the factors my husband and I had when deciding to move to New York. Montessori helped me rediscover my inner self and it has been a life changing experience as an educator and as a parent.

I moved to New York City with my family in September 2014. I immediately associated myself with the American Montessori Society. Despite my teaching experience of a few years, I had never seen a Montessori class, this was my first experience in a Montessori classroom as an “observer”. I experienced something special: I stood in a Montessori class looking at the red and the blue rods thinking about the purpose of those vibrant, colorful segments on different sizes of the rods. Then I saw a child polishing a shoe, and then my eyes moved around and I noticed a child carrying the Pink Cubes from one end of the classroom to the other end. I wondered, what was the need for the child to carry the work from one end to another. There were many questions popping up, many unanswered. I wanted to find out how it worked, I wanted to learn more about Montessori philosophy, method, and its approach. I was eager to learn how it could make such a difference to children’s lives, how it could brings joy to learning, what is freedom within limits, what is freedom of choice, why a teacher is called a directress in Montessori, what the teachers role as an observer meant, why would a teacher step back rather than intervene in a child’s learning? That moment and those unanswered questions drove me towards learning more about Montessori.

The fundamental basis of Montessori philosophy is so powerful that it provided a sound satisfaction to my teaching needs. I was able to find in it an approach that strengthens my teaching fundamentals significantly. This has resulted in my growing interest and utmost faith in Montessori teaching methods.

Who were your childhood heroes?

I don’t recall idolizing any particular hero during my childhood. However, I was always inspired and motivated by my parents who have always gone out of their way to support me, to teach me to be truthful, to differentiate between right and wrong, and to be emphatic towards others. They have always been by my side during difficult times. My childhood was also influenced a lot by my teachers, friends and relatives who helped me find my place in a closely knit society that is diverse in culture, traditions and values.

Who do you consider your role models?

I have always emulated those women who have excelled in their lives and have reached to the top of their carrier ladder with their grit, determination and sacrifice. For instance India’s first woman Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the creator of the Montessori Methods of Education –Dr. Maria Montessori. All these women have one thing in common and that is that they have inspired millions of women and men, including myself.

I have also been inspired by my ex- colleague Matti Turri, a Montessori teacher, with whom I did my internship. Her guidance drives me to make efforts to reach my full potential. I have also counted on the support and love of both my husband and brother who have held my hand in all of my actions. I, myself, hope to someday become a role model to someone!

Odd and Even numeral work with students


Isha working with the Broad Stair with her students.
Isha working with the Broad Stair with her students.


Do you find working with Early Childhood children rewarding? Why?

Yes, I do think and feel working with early childhood children is rewarding. I love to be with children as each day brings a new, unexpected moment of inspiration and joy.  It is incredibly inspiring watching them work, learn and grow. It gives me great pleasure observing the child immensely pleased, peaceful and rested after the most strenuous concentration on tasks they choose to independently do.

I enjoy the early childhood phase of development. I learn so much from this age group. I love communicating with this age group, I love to see and understand how their young minds work. This age is an age of little thinkers and philosophers. I celebrate their success and achievements whether they are large or small. I feel that being a Montessori teacher is a mesmerizing, privileged experience to observe and support the inner self of the child and celebrate each moment.

What do you hope to share with your children?

My efforts are towards sharing Maria Montessori’s vision of a peaceful world by providing the opportunity to the children to experience and practice respect for humanity. Children have to be prepared to serve their community and learn to contribute to a larger common good. I hope to support the child’s natural curiosity, the inner thirst of the child who is passionate about the world around him. Love, compassion and passion are important in facilitating the child’s learning and development process.

Each child is unique, they have different inner sensibilities and potential. I hope to fulfill the  individual needs of each child by paying attention to their sensitivities, capabilities and by providing them with the prepared environment according to their specific needs.

Anything else that you would like to share?

I am a passionate baby Montessorian. I was born in India, in a small town called Dehradun near the Himalayan foothills. I traveled around the globe from one part to another after every few years due to my husband’s profession, a serving Diplomat who is presently working with the United Nations here in New York. I am glad to be a part of the Montessori world where I can imbibe and spread Maria Montessori’s philosophy and methodology wherever I go.        

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