Teacher Spotlight – Jeff Kishpaugh
What drew you to becoming a Montessori teacher? I was working in a charter school which had a lot of great things going for it, but I was not satisfied. I thought, “There have to be better ways to do education.” I decided to visit other schools. One day, I walked into a Montessori classroom. I was amazed. The students were all engaged in different kinds of work, without any teacher telling them what to do! One first grader knew all the countries of the world and was learning the flags. Another student was laying out a long chain of beads – to the cube of nine, 729. Two girls quietly went to a corner of the room and talked, passing an object between them. The teacher told me that they were working out a conflict with the use of a “peace rose.” Within two months, I started my Montessori training.
Describe your all-time favorite lesson or one that impassions you? My favorite lesson is the Creation story – although I love all the Great Lessons, as well as many other impressionistic Montessori lessons. I think they are truly genius – and worldview-expanding, for adults as well as children. I find the Creation story to be such an engaging, awe-inspiring lesson, and one that really captures the children’s imagination. I also love that it relates us to processes that are so much larger than the things we humans usually focus on (and worry about ).
Who do you admire (and why) or do you have any heroes? I admire a lot of spiritual folks and people who have devoted themselves to doing good in the world – the Buddha, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. The list would be too long. Truly, though, I admire compassion, honesty, courage, openness, kindness. All of us, children and adults, operate from each of these every day. I consider us all to be heroes. It’s not easy being human, as wonderful as it can be.
What do you believe to be the greatest benefit to a child who has had a Montessori education? Mmm… tough. I’ll pick two things: 1) I think we do a really excellent job with “social/emotional” education, and that our students tend to be self-aware, kind, honest, open… (some of the qualities I was mentioning above). To me, this is more fundamental, “more central” (if we can say that) to a person’s happiness, success, and being-a-gift-to-the-world than “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” as important as those are. 2) The second gift is offering a child the structure, the opportunity, the support, and the non-interference for her/him to develop the love of and independence in learning.
And just for fun! What is one thing that most people at MCS don’t know about you? I’m 19. (Okay, not quite. Slipped up on the honesty.) Let me try again: I’ve never owned a TV.
If you could have any person, living or dead, as your Head of School, who would you choose? It would be fun to have one of those people I mentioned above as Head of School. I really think, though, that Tim is doing a fabulous job.