Meet Ellen Scango, Lead Primary Teacher
My Montessori path begins with my love of working with children and my sister’s long career as a Montessori teacher. I had been working in the childcare field for over five years and was ready for a change, but not a change from children. My sister’s love and passion for Montessori intrigued me and aspired me to learn more. I applied for an assistant position at RMS for the 2012-13 school year and have most recently completed my Montessori training from Northern Virginia Montessori Institute.
What you do love about teaching at Richmond Montessori School?
Teaching Montessori, talking Montessori, being Montessori and breathing Montessori is what I greatly enjoy about working at RMS. I find that when I am not in the Montessori environment I am still always talking to family, friends and acquaintances about how and why Montessori is so special. There is something very comforting about being in a place where other’s understand and share your passion. However, watching children thrive and unearth themselves spontaneously through the carefully prepared Montessori environment is what I love the most about teaching at RMS.
How do you make the classroom “your own?”
I have a deep fondness and passion for nature and animals. I greatly enjoy bringing that into the classroom whether it is through experiments, a unit study, stories or songs. You can connect and reach any child through nature as they have a natural love for the outside world. Teaching a child to respect nature and animals on top of respect for one’s self and others is such a fundamental part of developing a well rounded, kind human being.
What did you learn your first year teaching?
My first year of teaching was such a wonderful and successful year. I deepened my understanding of the Montessori philosophy through my Montessori training program, from my colleagues, and most of all the students. I learned that this will be a journey that one never stops learning from. The preparation of the Montessori teacher is just as important as all the other aspects of the classroom environment.
What is the best memory you’ve had so far as a teacher?
There are many wonderful moments and memories I have as a teacher, but there is one that stands out to me most. We have our annual class egg hunt each spring. There are dozens and dozens of eggs scattered about the small playground for children to find and collect in their baskets. I was watching the children for the obvious safety reasons, but also to field any potential unresolvable conflicts that may arise during an egg hunt. As I was watching, I witnessed two 3 year olds come across the same egg, and what one may anticipate happening did not. One of the 3 year olds picked up the egg, looked at the other child and placed it in that child’s basket. The child who received the egg smiled, looked down and soon spotted another egg, picked it up and returned the gesture. No words were exchanged, just smiles, understanding and generosity.
How can parents continue the learning at home?
I encourage parents to educate themselves as much as possible about the Montessori philosophy. Ask questions, attend parent education nights, observe in the classroom and read! I highly recommend the book How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin.
What is something parents can use at home that we do in the classroom?
Observation. Observation is a wonderful tool that is very often overlooked. Observe your child’s developmental needs and readiness and prepare your home environment to meet these needs. Children are much more capable beings than adults tend to realize. Independence is an invaluable tool to give to your child which builds a child’s self-esteem and confidence. There is nothing more satisfying to a child than knowing, “I can do it” or “I did it!”