Spotlight Making Montessori
Katie and Leticia are the brains behind Making Montessori.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
Katie: I grew up in Northern California in a musical and creative family. My father was an elementary school teacher for 30 years, who always told me I would be a great teacher, even though I never thought of going into teaching at all. After working as a paraprofessional in a title 1 preschool during college, I started working at a Montessori school in Salt Lake City, Ut as a co-teacher. This was my first experience with Montessori and I was hooked. 9 years later and I am finishing up my MEPI credential while taking a step back from the classroom to stay at home with my 3 year old daughter. My husband and I have spent the last 5 years remodeling our 1920s bungalow in Downtown Salt Lake City. We are those crazy DIYers. I am passionate about the universal language of music and play the guitar.
Leticia: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a big, diverse family that I love dearly. I’ve been married for almost 10 years and have two sweet boys 6 and 3. It’s wonderful always being surrounded by handsome men. I graduated from Westminster College with my degree and license in teaching with my English As a Second Language endorsement. I’ve taught multiple ages in diverse schools. My Montessori journey started when my first son was ready to start preschool. I longed for something that would give him more and felt natural. I walked in to a Montessori environment and immediately felt at home. I switched gears and started working at a Montessori school soaking up as much knowledge as I could and implementing it in every part of my life. I love to learn, I am currently going back to school to get AMS certified. I have so many dreams I want in life and I tackle them one at a time. My most current one is helping families see the light with Montessori and trying to implement it anywhere and with everyone.
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
Katie: Gold… I know it’s not really a color, but I love shiny!
Leticia: PINK all the way!
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
Katie: I am a huge Harry Potter nerd! I also love collecting children’s picture books. My favorite movie is Once.
Leticia: I love children’s books. I don’t know that I could pick a favorite one. I love home videos.
Q: When you close your eyes late at night, and imagine waking up and starting a new adventure: what is that adventure?
Katie: I would be in Ireland watching my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac, playing of course!!
Leticia: I’m not a risk taker, but starting any new adventure is exciting with my boys by my side. Before getting married I traveled the world with my mom, Asia, Europe, Russia, Islands. I would love to do that with my boys and share in learning about new cultures.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
Katie: My first real job after college was at a Montessori school, and I had never heard of it before. The lead teacher I worked with taught me how the materials were really what taught the children, not us. I also found it fascinating after teaching in a traditional, center based preschool, that children could happily work on their own for 3 hours without incentive!
Leticia: That it felt like home. Seeing children’s potentials shine in their own beautiful light. Montessori was the way I was parenting at home and I loved knowing that my son could be respected, creative, engaged, valued, and loved while still getting educated. I loved that I didn’t have to be at the center of a child’s learning, I’m simply there to support what they already know and help unleash it.
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
Observe, observe, OBSERVE! Ask questions. And keep moving forward. Give yourself grace, the Montessori transformation takes years and will not happen overnight.
Q: Did you have a “Montessori Moment?”
Katie: My “Montessori Moment” actually happened during the year I lived in LA and worked as a teacher in a play and center based preschool/daycare. I found myself trying to replicate Montessori in this environment and yearning to be able to guide the children I was teaching using Montessori principles. I believed it in and saw it work. My employer noticed that my classroom worked differently than the others and I told her what I was using… she was impressed, but asked me to stop. I was heartbroken because I knew my gut was right, and after leaving a few months later, I knew my true path was Montessori. When I moved back to Utah I began my journey to becoming credentialed.
Leticia: I feel like my “Montessori Moment” came when I was in the beginning stages of my Montessori transformation. I was at home with my 6 year, who at the time was 3, I was feeling very frustrated with him because I wanted him to do something and he just wouldn’t do it. He very calmly grabbed my face with his two little hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Mommy I can tell you are frustrated. Please take a deep breath and let’s talk about it.” In that moment I knew the Montessori needed to be everywhere! What a better world we would have if simple things we taught our children, about nurturing their spirits, respecting them, and teaching life skills were implemented everywhere. In that moment I knew that I wanted to make sure as many people as I knew would use the Montessori method in their home.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future… Let us treat them with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.” – Maria Montessori (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook)
Q: What inspired you to share your Montessori story on your blog and social media?
After both leaving the classroom to be at home with our children, we found ourselves wanting our children to maintain the Montessori ideals they had already acquired. We relied on each other as friends and colleagues to navigate how to transition from guiding 30 students in a classroom environment to our own children in the home. It was a real challenge for both of us, even being seasoned Montessori guides, so we knew we couldn’t be the only ones feeling this way. Thus Making Montessori was born. We want to make Montessori accessible and easy implemented in families’ every day life, no matter their situation. We aim to make Montessori a lifestyle. We also want to aid families in keeping Montessori values alive as their children transition in new school environments, especially more tradition settings.
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do it all at once. Implement one thing at a time! Pinterest is great, but doesn’t always give you the background of philosophy needed to practice the Montessori method. Making Montessori is a great place to start to help you understand the philosophy and jargon that comes with the Montessori Method. Making Montessori also provides a community where you can come with questions and receive support as you begin your Montessori journey. Follow us on instagram @making.montessori and our blog on makingmontessori.com
Q: What do you think is the best introduction to Montessori?
Observe! Go to an accredited Montessori school and sit in a classroom and simply observe. Watch how children interact and really see what Montessori can do. You can read all you want about Montessori, but when you see it is when you really begin to get it.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
How timeless it is. It will be and work the same a hundred years from now, as it did a hundred years ago. Montessori truly has the power to change you and children.
Q: In what ways do you envision the future of education?
We hope our nation’s leaders will take a closer look at the public school system and find more alternative ways to educate our children. Even if that means just taking part of the Montessori method and start to incorporate it into schools. The traditional way of learning with desks lined perfectly in rows being lectured to is for factory workers. Do we want a world of factory workers or of creative innovative problem solvers? If we want our future to change then we need to start in the early stages of life.
Q: Where do you see Montessori in the next 100 years?
We view a bright future because Montessori is in a resurgence and families are wanting to incorporate Montessori in their lives. We hope that Montessori will be more revered and widely used, whether through variations or its pure form, in all education environments and homes. There’s not a lot of data that shows the effectiveness of Montessori when used correctly, so we think that if we can have tangible data to prove this then schools would see its value and implement it nationwide.
Written by:Baan Dek