Teacher Spotlight – Lisa Anderson, Lower Elementary

What drew you to becoming a Montessori teacher? When I was in college I was asked to choose an area of specialty by my advisor.  At the time I was the nanny for two boys who were attending a Montessori school, so I began to explore this methodology.  After observing in a Primary classroom, I never looked back!

Describe your all-time favorite lesson. The Elementary Montessori curriculum stems from the Five Great Lessons.  These lessons are, for me, the most amazing piece of the puzzle.  I love seeing the excitement and expressions on the children’s faces, especially when they are hearing these stories for the first time.  Just like the children, I think I gain a new perspective each time I hear them.

Who do you admire and why? There have been so many influences on my life for various reasons, so it is hard to narrow down just one.  Recently, I have been reading a great deal about autism and admire the work of Temple Grandin. She has been instrumental in helping people learn about spectrum disorders through examples of her own life.

What do you believe to be the greatest benefit to a child who has had a Montessori education? ‘Learning for life’ is a timeless theme that we discuss in Montessori.  Recently, people in education have been focused on identifying skills, that are important in the workplace, that is perhaps not explicitly taught but rather inherent. Learning how to navigate social situations and effectively participate in a group has always been intrinsic to Montessori. Now the education field is finding out what we have known about the importance of these skills. We are lucky to be able to have conversations about how to share space with others, listen to other’s opinions and viewing conversations as opportunities for learning about others. The fact that we get to practice these skills from primary through adolescence is an extraordinary gift.

What is one thing that people at MCS don’t know about you? (This is such a hard one…)  …mathlete in high school; …once took guitar lessons; …my husband’s family owns property in Virginia where Martha Washington was born called Chestnut Grove Plantation.  We go there every opportunity we can; …working towards my autism specialist certification; …huge James Taylor fan.

If you could have any person, living or dead, as your Head of School, who would it be? (Is Maria Montessori too obvious? lol) (I also think Michelle Obama… but I will go with a safe less-political choice). I think Walt Disney would be an amazing choice.  His thoughts about children being our greatest natural resources echoed Montessori’s visions.  He was an innovator always looking at the future and thinking about how to make the (seemingly) impossible possible. His beliefs about the need to teach through storytelling and tapping into people’s imagination and creativity are just what we need.  Disney also believed that people were most productive when they were inspired by what they were doing.  I think Walt Disney would make a great compliment to Montessori education!