Happy Spring, readers! Meet Amy Grandia (M.Ed. ’14), who earned her AMI Primary diploma at Montessori Northwest in conjunction with the Loyola master’s program. Below she shares her reflection on education for peace, the graduate campus and M.Ed. core courses, and life after Loyola.
Some background: When did you become involved with the Montessori method, and what drew you to it?
From a very young age, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. Knowing I wanted to gain experience with children, I applied for an assistant job at the closest school to my house, which happened to be a Montessori school. After a brief time in the classroom, I fell in love with Maria Montessori’s work. I loved how, with Montessori, children can meet their full potential and work at their own pace, the guides meet each child where they are, it fosters independence, the list continues…but above all, what drew me to work in Montessori was the peace education focus. Montessori recognized children as the redeeming factor in the evolution of humankind. To bring about a world of peace and tolerance, where war is an absurdity, it is important to teach peace, collaboration, and acceptance early. Dr. Montessori saw education as the most powerful and universal way to reconstruct society; a way to transition from war to peace. Therefore, it is necessary to think of education as peace, not education for peace.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Frederick Douglass
How would you describe your Summer Session in residence at Loyola?
The Loyola campus is beautiful; when walking to class or working outside you are always surrounded by beautiful buildings. The library offered a lot of research options and was a great space to work. Not having a car there, I took advantage of the multiple offers for buses that would take the students to the grocery store. The gym on campus has great exercise equipment and fun classes. One thing I was able to take with me from my time on the Loyola campus were the friendships I made. If we are thinking of this work as a collaboration toward unity and togetherness, connecting with others dedicated to that same mission is paramount in achieving those large scale objectives and I was able to build some strong connections that are still with me today.
Where are you working now?
For the last four years I have been a guide at SunGarden Montessori Children’s House, a quaint and beautiful AMI school just outside of Portland, Oregon.
In what ways, if any, do you use some of the things you’ve learned about educational research or special education in your daily teaching life, now?
I have kept the notebook I used at Loyola close since I graduated. I often review the handouts and notes I took while I was there. The educational research class strengthened my abilities in finding information as well as sharpened my competency in reading articles more effectively. I have been using this skill a great deal when finding articles for my work with Oregon Montessori Association. The special education class offered at Loyola deepened my knowledge of the different steps to take to assist with all of the diverse and varied needs of children. I have been a part of many IEP’s for my students, and learning about the process before facing it in the classroom gave me the confidence I needed to adequately support the children utilizing them.
What was your final paper/project about? Did you feel that it enriched your practice as a Montessorian?
My final paper was on movement in the Montessori classroom and I do feel the project enriched my practice as a Montessorian. While writing the paper I had to dive deeply into my feelings about movement in the classroom and my approach to supporting it constructively. It forced me to step outside of the Montessori realm to research what other professionals were saying regarding movement and how other groups felt it to be affecting childhood education. During the process, I was able to look at the ways Montessori uses fine motor movement and gross motor movement, and how every movement that is made by the guide is done with purpose.
How do you feel the Master’s degree has affected your career trajectory?
I feel having a Master’s degree has enhanced my career. With the parents of the children I teach, I feel it shows my commitment to education and that I have worked hard to learn as much as I can about this topic. Also, with people that may be unfamiliar with Montessori, my Master’s degree communicates I have a deep knowledge of education and I am proficient in the topic. And lastly, my Master’s degree has given me a great sense of accomplishment and pride. It represents the high level of importance and value I place on what is my life’s work.
Thanks for sharing, Amy!!
Loyola University Maryland ~ Strong Truths Well Lived