Spotlight Catalina Murcia of Casa de Paz Montessori
Catalina Murcia, director of Casa de Paz Montessori in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, shares her story here. Enjoy!
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
My name is Catalina Murcia, I am a native of Bogota, Colombia. I came to live in the states when I was 9 years old. I have always been interested in psychology and child development. So I graduated from UNT with a major in psychology and minor in early childhood development and family studies. I got my AMI diploma from MINT and am a huge advocate for Montessori education and children’s rights. I own a school, Casa de Paz Montessori, it is 10 years old and it is my third baby. It is my passion project, my gift to families and children, a place where children can come get their spiritual, physical and cognitive needs met while also providing a social and supportive community for families. I have two daughters, Bela, 10, and Aurelia, 7, they are my life, my inspiration, and they provide a lot of practice and a lot of great stories for my parenting courses. I am passionate about mindfulness, I enjoy teaching and helping adults connect with children in respectful and meaningful ways. I love to travel and meet people from around the world. My dreams continue to be to travel the world teaching and supporting parents and teachers and in doing so providing better emotional environments for children.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
I’m a book geek, I own all the psychology, education, development books out there. I also enjoy good novels and other spiritual books. Right now I am loving the book, The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell and John Gray.
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
Traveling through South America, training and supporting parents and educators.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
When I first stepped foot in a Montessori classroom when I was a teenager I was struck by the level of independence and respect that both children and adults showed. I had never experienced adults treating children with such high regard and I fell in love instantly and I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do.
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
Find a mentor or coach, find a community of other educators, teachers and administrators to support you. This is an extremely demanding profession and you cannot do it alone and take care of yourself. We cannot provide for the children what we cannot provide for ourselves. So take care of all your needs including finding support.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
This quote from trainer Sarah Werner Andrews, during her keynote at the NAMTA/AMI conference in Maryland really spoke to me and I’ve been really diving into its meaning. “To follow the child is to teach for mutual liberation.”
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
Read Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Montessori Speaks to Families by Dr. Montessori. Take only one new strategy to apply at a time, give that new strategy at least 2-3 weeks before incorporating a new Montessori tool. Don’t get overwhelmed with trying to do everything by the book. Get support from other families also in Montessori. Stay out of Pinterest! Montessori is a way of life, a way of respecting the needs and the development of your child, it is not cute crafts or pouring exercises on a shelf. Be creative and flexible all while always thinking about how best to meet the developmental needs of your child.
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
Observing a Montessori classroom if possible. That’s how most of us fall in love, when we see something we’d never experienced before, peace, harmony, respect and busy busy little people all doing important work while being kind and mindful of one another.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
I recently attended a conference, and had the pleasure of listening to an amazing trainer from Washington who made the entire audience cry. She reminded us why we do what we do: the peaceful revolution. I regain my strength after I remember first, I am not alone, second, this revolution is hard work and it’s a struggle, but it’s worth every high and low if it will create peace and lasting change in the world.
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
I am really hopeful that parents and adults will have more knowledge about human development and developmentally appropriate practices and therefore will demand better standards from all educational and care facilities. This will cause schools and daycares to step it up and provide quality developmental education that is individualized. I am hoping that education is regarded as the profession it is and educators will gain the respect and salaries they deserve to do the immense, creative and emotional job of educating others.
Q: Where do you see Montessori in the next 100 years?
It’s difficult for me to think that far ahead. However, I have seen so many positive changes within the Montessori movements and organizations. I imagine we will continue with what I am seeing happening now: A lot of partnerships and collaboration, a lot of expansion of Montessori through the world and into the public sector and into other areas such as orphanages, foster systems, parenting courses. I see our new Montessori leaders as energetic and willing to be flexible and meet people where they are. This I feel will help the movement to continue to grow and evolve to support more and more people through the world. I look forward to additional trainings on the fourth plane of development, on adult development, I’d love to be involved in the expansion into parenting trainings and more accessible trainings, resources, support and information for the public.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder