Spotlight Lisa Trout
Lisa Trout is the new Head of School at Chesterfield Montessori School. We love her passion for this work and her enthusiasm for her new role. She is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we loved learning more about her in this Spotlight. We think you will, too!
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
I started my career in Dallas,TX as a buyer for a 600 chain specialty store. In a staff meeting one day the group spent two hours discussing the color of a green button. As I watched the people around me arguing and even crying in frustration, I decided right then that I needed to make a career change. Shortly after that, I moved back to St. Louis and discovered Montessori. To my delight, there was an AMI training center close by with a new session starting that following week taught by Dr. Annette Haines (Montessori extraordinaire!). That was 22 years ago and the rest is history. I taught for several years, spent time as an Admissions Director and am now the head of an amazing AMI Montessori school – Chesterfield Montessori.
In addition to education, I also love yoga, cooking, music, hiking and spending time with friends and family.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
For me, this actually IS a hard question! I love color and design so my favorite color changes often. Today, it is coral.
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
My favorite book is Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. It delves deeply and personally into the experiences and emotions of parenting with presence while keeping a sense of humor.
My favorite recent movie is Captain Fantastic. The opening scene is tough to watch for animal lovers, but the rest of the movie is excellent. It explores the relationship of a father and his six children who live off the grid in the wilderness of Washington state.
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
I am currently living out my new adventure since I just started as Head of School in January! Each day I have the opportunity to connect a little more deeply with the children, their families, and our CMS staff. I am staying open to new ideas and am committed to putting into practice all that I learn from one day to the next.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
What first appealed to me about Montessori was the idea of limitless learning and being able to study a topic of interest broadly and deeply. One of our elementary graduates (who is now an entrepreneur in New York and has been in Forbes “Thirty Under Thirty” twice) said to me, “There’s no need to break through a glass ceiling because in Montessori there’s no ceiling at all!” I love that idea.
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
Learn as much as possible about the Montessori philosophy and take advantage of all the learning opportunities your school offers. As Maya Angelou said, “ I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
Q: Did you have a “Montessori Moment?”
During my first year of teaching, I had a new Primary student who was adopted from Russia and spoke no English, but she loved to express herself and explore in other ways. A few examples – while hand washing one day she decided to wash her body as well, she cut her hair when she learned how to use scissors, and she bit when she got overexcited. Needless to say, she was a lovable challenge. After not speaking for an entire year, she arrived on the first day of her second year and announced loudly, “Rainy day, Ms. Trout!” There were hugs and tears of excitement and I knew I was hooked on this type of education.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
“We shall walk together on this path of life for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
This is a topic I could go on and on about! I loved incorporating Montessori concepts at home when my children were little. Changes as simple as moving your child’s dishware to a reachable cabinet or putting small pitchers of milk and/or water on the bottom shelf in the fridge can go a long way in building a child’s independence and confidence. I would advise new parents to check out Montessori parenting blogs/websites and talk to other parents as well. Two more tips (I can’t resist!): Have a low coat rack available for your child to hang his/her jacket and lunch bag and a low shelf with games/toys/books that are rotated regularly.
“[The students] inspire me every day through acts of kindness, a-ha moments of connection with the materials, or ideas that are outside of the box.”
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
The best introduction to Montessori is to tour and observe at a well-established AMI Montessori school. Parents should ask if the school can connect them with current parents to act as mentors as they begin to learn about this amazing approach to education.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
The students. They inspire me everyday through acts of kindness, a-ha moments of connection with the materials, or ideas that are outside of the box. As a matter of fact, I just had a lower elementary student come into my office and ask if her dad could come to her classroom and beatbox!
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
We are advancing by leaps and bounds in the areas of brain development and research on how children learn best, but we have a long way to go in this country, especially when it comes to public education. I would love to see the Montessori philosophy be a bigger part of this change.
Q: Where do you see Montessori in the next 100 years?
In the next 100 years, I think more and more educators and change makers will see the value of Montessori and it will be available to a much larger number of children. Excellent middle and high school programs will grow and we will offer the world students who are capable of solving real problems and who understand that they have a unique contribution to make.
Written by:Charlotte Wood