STEPHANIE (CONTOS) MANIS
In researching schools and educational philosophies for their children, parents can become bombarded with information, suggestions and opinions about what defines “the best” for their child. The principle of education is to empower the child to become not only a productive member of society, but for the child to have the ability to become the best version of himself. Montessori education allows a child to love learning, and does not force rote memorization. Montessori teaches a child to be proud of himself for his achievements, not to compare his successes and failures to those around him. Montessori gives the child the life skills to become his best self.
My experience with Montessori education began at the preschool level. I was enrolled for the Montessori-typical three-year cycle of age 3 preschool, age 4 preschool and kindergarten. Though I was obviously too young to understand the impact of my learning, I realize now that I was preconditioned to problem-solving, creative thinking and success. At age 3 I learned to follow through with tasks; retrieve a work, begin the work, complete the work and put the work away. At age 4 I was shown how to build on skills I had already acquired and therefore to challenge myself and move forward with goals. At age five I had acquired a love for learning and was eager for the next challenge. As an adult, I continue to accept the inevitable challenges of life with an approach of progress, improvement, and growth.
When my Montessori education was completed, I went on to be a successful reader with strong interests in science and language. I joined and enjoyed sports teams with confidence built on perseverance. I attained membership into the National Junior Honors Society and centered on community service and maintaining academic excellence. I grew to balance responsibilities and seek opportunities. I am currently balancing schooling in Emergency Medicine, working for an attorney’s office, beginning my career in the Fire Service and most importantly being a full-time mother of two, wife, and homeowner. I want to communicate my sincere belief that it was a Montessori education that empowered me to take on challenges and gave me the courage and self-esteem to reach for what I want.
Because of my experience and the success that I feel was due to Montessori, I chose to enroll my daughter in the very school I attended over 20 years ago. In fact, she in her first year of preschool was taught by the very same teacher, Mrs. Marilyn. My daughter moved into the public school system this year and has shown a foundation for reading, social skills and the desire to learn that far exceeds her age. I look forward to enrolling my son in Mrs. Marilyn’s classroom so that he too can enjoy the success allowed to him by an early Montessori experience. I am grateful to have been able to afford my children (and to have been afforded, myself) the opportunity to become our best selves.