2019 Harold Holliday Montessori School Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Hodgkins

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Jennifer Hodgkins
Harold Holliday Montessori School
Children’s House (P3, P4 & Kindergarten)

How are you working to increase equity in education and opportunity for students in your school?
In a Montessori environment, there are things that are beautiful and call to the child usually centered around real things and nature. I began inquiring why we didn’t have more of an outside environment at our school that reflected the indoor learning environment. I was put in charge of creating an outdoor space in which there is something for every child. Last fall, the children of my classroom shared ideas of things they would like to see and we began planning. We planned a water-less fountain, tree stumps to be able to move and build with, varying heights of stationary tree stumps to create a balance beam-type structure, wind chimes for peace, various natural instruments. These are just a few examples. We had a workday on a Saturday in which children and their parents were invited to come and contribute. The impact of this on-going project is that it brings children together toward a common goal, helps them learn to plan and execute a plan and teaches them how to include others (parents) to help when the job is too difficult to do alone.

What message about public education do you want to share?
I see a need for school environments to be extensions of the home in the sense that all students are important and have a place in which they can learn. It is our job as schools to create environments in which each child can be successful at learning. Research shows that every child, no matter the circumstances or difficulties, can learn when given the right opportunity. I strive hard to get to know each of my students and their families and work to create an environment where not only the children can learn but where we can connect with families and help to support them.

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