Spotlight Lizzie Gheorghita
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
My childhood was spent in my father’s home country of Romania, and England, until moving to Missouri at age 10. I was happiest when playing volleyball, chasing around my 4 younger siblings, and spending summers on the sailboat-filled waters of Lake Michigan.
Two years post-college, I took a professional leap of faith over to a Montessori school just outside of Washington, D.C. I’d never heard the term before. I supported the school’s three levels — Toddler, Primary, and Elementary — and was struck by how unusual it felt to start looking forward to work every day.
I began the following school year as the assistant to one of their incredible Primary Directresses, and we had a wild, amazing class of 28. It was unequivocally the hardest gig I’d had up until that point. But, I was hooked. In 2016, I received my Primary AMI Certificate from the Washington Montessori Institute and Master’s in Education from Loyola University. Now, I teach in a Primary classroom of 24 just north of San Francisco.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
Q: What’s your most recently read book? How about a film watched?
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, which was a poignant and rich memoir, and a major perspective changer. And I just watched the movie adaptation of A Man Called Ove, which was a touching reminder of what our human spirits can do for each other.
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
Easy. Designing and building a sprawling, farm/cabin-inspired Montessori school nestled in the shores of Lake Tahoe. Let’s put in cabins for all my closest friends and family, too.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
Recognizing children as capable individuals! The scientific basis! The importance of movement! The importance of nature! The 3-year cycle! There were so many layers of Montessori that jumped out at me right away — it was a little addicting.
Most genius of all was how Dr. Montessori intended for education to be an aid to life. Nothing made more sense to me than that, and it was all I could do not to literally shout it from the rooftops.
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
It is a constant discovery process. I guess I’d say that wherever you start, be kind to yourself and find some incredible mentors. Acknowledge that you’ll need to carve out space for your own transformation and that it will take great effort. Get ready to be humbled :)
Q: Did you have a “Montessori Moment?”
I think my first came during my year as an assistant, when I was eavesdropping on a boy in the reading nook. He was just so focused on sounding out each sound in this sentence, repeating it diligently, and gaining speed each time. He paused, and finally let out an excited whisper, “I did it! I just read that!” Witnessing his joy in that moment was… moving.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
“I did not invent a method of education, I simply gave some little children a chance to live.” Maria Montessori
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
In a time when everyone seems to be on a faster track than yours, consider slowing down life at home. Hone in on ways you can slow down your own rhythm, as well. Invite more nature into your child’s life. Begin a dialogue with your child’s teacher to pinpoint ways to make your home child-friendly, and perhaps how to make the transition between home and school harmonious as well. The point is to make it work for your family, so setting up the stage is an important step.
Also, I’d say don’t do anything until you’ve researched what “Montessori” really means. Make sure glossy blogs and Pinterest boards aren’t muddling your understanding of what this approach to life and education really entails.
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
Observing. 100%. Find an authentically run classroom, and nothing will ever compare to being in the middle of that magic. Also, read everything you can about Dr. Montessori’s life. It will knock you off your feet how revolutionary she was.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
How incredibly relevant it is, and how today’s scientists continue to verify what Dr. Montessori discovered over 100 years ago.
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
I’d like to envision a future where education has shed this competitive, breakneck mentality of “winning at the start line.” Where we can acknowledge it more as a holistic journey, not a race. Ultimately, a future where it doesn’t feel so radical to say that education should be aligned with a child’s true developmental needs.
Written by:Charlotte Wood