Baan Dek

Jill Turbak


Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?

I live in Brandon with my husband Chris, our daughter, Harlow, and our three rescue cats, Miu, Prada, and Gucci. I grew up in Sioux Falls before going to South Dakota State University and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English. I love to travel and some of my favorite places I’ve been include Banff, Belize, and Texas – my number one bucket list travel destination is Rome. I love to volunteer and work with many area nonprofit organizations. I have also founded my own nonprofit, focused on mental health advocacy and suicide prevention, called “A Different Kind of Lifeguard”.

Q: How were you first introduced to Montessori?

I was first introduced to Montessori when my daughter was about a month old. The Internet is full of information for first time parents, but I was lost in so much conflicting information that didn’t make sense to me. Once I started reading about Montessori, I realized that it was exactly how I wanted to parent my child and help her learn. Everything about Montessori makes so much sense to me and I’ve enjoyed watching my daughter grow while we follow the Montessori methods.

Q: What was it about Montessori that resonated with you?

I love that so much of Montessori is based on children learning practical life skills. It’s so apparent that children want to be helpful, productive members of our families and of society, but they aren’t always given the opportunity to learn by doing things for themselves. In the Montessori classroom we give even our youngest students a chance to learn skills that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Q: What brought you to Baan Dek?

When I was looking into when my daughter could start at Baan Dek, I noticed that they were hiring and emailed to inquire. I’m so passionate about Montessori at home and now I get to spend my whole day immersed in Montessori and helping children learn. I feel so lucky to have found this opportunity and that Baan Dek exists in our community.

Q: What is your favorite part of your day at Baan Dek?

My favorite part of the day is observing the children during their work periods. I am so amazed at how capable they are, not just in doing their work but respecting their peers, the adults in the building, and the classroom itself.

Q: What is your favorite life quote?

“The two most important days of our life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” I feel that all of us have a purpose in life and it’s such a blessing when we become aware of what that purpose is.

Q: What is your favorite color?

Green! I’m drawn to all different shades; bright kelly green, deep emerald, calming sage, they’re all beautiful to me!

Q: How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to read and I’m usually reading multiple books at a time because I can’t pick just one. I do a lot of crafts and DIYs and enjoy figuring out how I could make something on my own rather than purchasing it. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends; something that I no longer take for granted after our long period of social distancing this past Spring.

Q: What is your favorite animal and why?

Cats! We have three as a part of our family and they all have big personalities. Our cats are all very self-sufficient but will also read our emotions and come to cuddle when we’re feeling down. Our family feels so complete with each of them as a part of it and I don’t think any of them could be replaced.

Q: What’s a fun fact about your life?

I’m a pageant girl! I started competing in pageants during college and found that they were a wonderful way to share about my mental health platform. I was named Miss South Dakota International 2012 and during that year started speaking about mental health all across South Dakota. Since then I have spoken to thousands and also hold the titles of Mrs. South Dakota International 2018 and Ms. South Dakota International 2020.

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