I’ve often used the phrase, “everything happens for a reason.” That’s what I think about the reasons that led me to return to Montessori teaching after a time away. Upon my return, I had the opportunity to work with someone that would become one of my very best friends. But not only is she a terrific friend, she’s an even better Montessori teacher.
So, today, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d like to introduce you to Sherry Nobles. She’s a Montessori elementary teacher of 1st through 3rd graders at Park Road Montessori School in Charlotte and has been a Montessori educator for almost 20 years.
Now, some of you may be wondering about the term, Montessori. No, Sherry’s not a nun. No, she doesn’t work in a Monastery. No, it’s not a Catholic school or a hippy school. (Montessori teachers get that question A LOT!) Montessori schools are named after Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method. To explain the Montessori Method is probably a post for another day, but if you’d like to learn a little more about it you can find some information here.
Sherry Nobles is a true follower of the Montessori Method. She adores her students and even during this time of distance learning continues to do all she can to make her students’ learning opportunities satisfying and unique to their abilities and needs.
Here she is, my dear friend, Sherry Nobles:
Why did you choose to be a teacher? I had always wanted to be a teacher. When I was young, I would play school with my stuffed animals and I even had a small podium and would have them sitting in rows, just like my classroom. I loved going to school. As I grew older, I found that I enjoyed biology and decided I would prefer to teach older students, until I went to college. Learning of the struggles that teachers faced, I chose to focus on the healthcare field.
Why did you choose Montessori? It was in college that I first learned of the Montessori philosophy. I remember sharing about it with my now husband. I expressed then the desire to put my future children in that environment. This approach to learning encourages independence, follows the child, while also instilling the understanding that the child also shares the responsibility for their learning that was in line with their development. When I did have children, I strived to do hands on activities with my daughter. Then we reached the point, when she no longer enjoyed learning from me. We were fortunate enough to have a Montessori school close to our home. Watching her flourish and seeing the philosophy in action while volunteering and substituting lead me to obtain my Montessori certification for teaching lower elementary (6-9 years).
What are you doing now? For the past four years, I have been working as a lower elementary teacher in a public Montessori school. I previously worked for a private Montessori school for 15 years.
What is a favorite memory? I do not think I truly have just one, when I start to think, many begin rolling through my mind. One student that tugged more on my heart was this girl that had been adopted from an Asian country. This family already had another adopted child as a toddler and was now in the Children’s House program (3-6). The girl entering my class was already 7 and would be in 1st grade even though she had not had any previous schooling. She beamed when she came in the room, she would observe the other children and strive to join in their activities. While at school, she worked hard and was always willing to work with me on any task. We labelled objects, traced pictures, and practiced counting. Of course, there were the times we had to guide her behavior and help develop her empathy and how to better control her body. It was such a joy to watch her blossom while with us. She eventually moved away after almost 2 years with me. Years later she emailed me sharing how things were with her. She told me what all she had been up to, dancing, and how her school had been going. It just touched my heart so that she contacted me as I worried for her and was thrilled to hear how she was thriving.
What is the toughest thing about being a teacher? There are a few downsides to being a teacher. The first that comes to mind is the paperwork. The other thought that comes to mind is when it becomes necessary to share concerns with parents.
Any misconceptions you would like to set straight about teachers? Everyone thinks that a teacher has the summer off. While we do have more flexibility in the summer, we still are working, just not in the classroom. We also spend time planning, making materials, and attending professional development throughout the summer. Then there is the misconception that we only work school hours. Teachers work frequently before and after their required hours as well as on the weekend.
Any regrets? I have no regrets about becoming a Montessori teacher. It allowed me flexibility when my children were younger. I feel that it is an honor to be a part of a child’s life and take that seriously. Everyday is different, you can have your plan, but then the children become involved. Getting and giving hugs, listening to their jokes, and seeing their face light up with excitement of learning or experiencing something new fills my heart.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, Ms. Sherry, and to all the other teachers out there. If you haven’t had the opportunity to thank an educator or instructor this week, you’ve still got a few days. It doesn’t take anything expensive. Create a social media post, send an email, create a card, etc. But please let the educators in your life, and perhaps in your past, know how much they have meant to you over the years!