Ms. Autumn - Special Education

  1. What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?

I have worked in education in several different capacities. I did my student teaching in Japantown of SanFrancisco. I was lead teacher at an afterschool program for the Jewish community center of San Francisco while working on my undergrad at SFSU. I was selected for the Oakland Teaching Fellows after I began my work in teaching Special Education in East Oakland at Life Academy. I remember hearing about Maria Montessori in my Education classes but her work was presented as something to inform a traditional pedagogy. When looking into daycare programs for my oldest child, I quickly got on a list at HDMS for the infant toddler program.  I observed, I asked questions, I was extremely persistent and eventually had my daughter enrolled in the primary program. When my youngest was born, I took a hiatus from teaching special education/resource for WUSD and applied for an opening. Even though my education was strictly traditional, I truly believe in Montessori education and strive everyday to merge the two in a meaningful way.

  1. Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in equality of education for all students. When I look at the Montessori pedagogy I see that it truly meets the needs of all students, where they are on their path, and is non-judgmental of the style or speed of learning.

  1. What are your beliefs about guiding all children- those that struggle and excel?  

Special education instruction is all about meeting the specific needs of children! All people can learn.  Kids are always asking me, “What do you teach?” and my standard answer is, “I teach everything! I teach social skills, and math and reading at writing. I work with any kid that needs any help with any thing. How lucky am I ?”

  1. What does partnering with parents and community look like for your classroom?  

I get to be a citizen of so many classrooms at HDMS. I have lots of meetings and phone calls and emails and more meetings and text messages and I see families at Sky Tavern every weekend. The parent’s of our special needs students get to spend a lot of time with me and always know that my door is open to support, or provide materials to support at home, all of the time.

  1. What is the method in which you grow professionally and personally?

I am constantly reading and learning about both special education and Montessori philosophy. Over last spring break, I attended my first Montessori conference in Washington DC and I was very excited.  I plan to attend Montessori training in the future.

  1. Where do you see yourself and HDMS in 5 years?

My oldest will be 10 and my youngest will be 7 so I see myself, like many of our parents are, striving to find the balance between work, school and home. I see myself as a much wiser teacher and an advocate for the needs of all children. I spent years organizing children’s programming for Artown and I hope to find a way to meld my two worlds in the future. If you would like more information about Artown or Missoula Children’s theater, please let me know.

Ms. Chrislyn - Special Education

  1. What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?

I received my Bachelor’s from UNR in Integrated Elementary Teaching with Emphases in Special Education and Teaching English as a Second Language in 2014. I taught my first year here in Reno, then life took my family to Las Vegas for my husband’s work. I taught in charter schools there, including a Montessori charter school, until 2018 when life brought us back to the Biggest Little City. While in Vegas, I earned my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from WGU Nevada. I originally came to HDMS as a parent, but as fate would have it, the school needed a Special Ed teacher and I fit the bill. So here I am!!

  1. Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in a fair, equitable, and practical education for ALL children, not just the ones who can pass a test. Dr. Montessori designed her method while working with children with special needs, and so the idea that growth can be made by focusing on the whole child is totally aligned with how Special Education is meant to be: teach the child the skills they need to function successfully in the world, not just to pass a test.

  1. What are your beliefs about guiding all children- those that struggle and excel?  

I love the Albert Einstein quote: “I believe in standardizing automobiles. I don’t believe in standardized human beings.” Humans are inherently and uniquely gifted in some areas and struggle in others. But everyone serves a purpose, and our jobs as educators is to give the child access to their full potential-whatever that may look like.

  1. What does partnering with parents and community look like for your classroom?  

I am often out at the gate greeting children as they enter, and I’m usually out at dismissal too. I’m always meeting with parents in the parking lot, at the front desk, in the lobby of Orovada….. I try my best to be accessible as possible so all parents, not just those whose children have IEPs, have a person they can come to for anything.

  1. What is the method in which you grow professionally and personally?

I love to observe and learn from my fellow teachers and assistant teachers within our school. As a relative newcomer to not only HDMS but the Montessori pedagogy (and the incredible materials), I want to absorb as much as I can so I can better support and serve our school community.

  1. Where do you see yourself and HDMS in 5 years?

I’m still going to be here, both as a teacher and a parent. My son is a new Primary student, and my daughter will attend our school as well once she’s old enough. I see myself becoming more fluent in the Montessori method, using the materials more to support children in the classroom.