At Rogers Park Montessori School, the administration and School’s Board are dedicated to supporting the training and professional development of the teaching staff. Our ‘home-grown’ teachers lead their classes from their unique experience and background, and this creates strong bonds between our faculty and our school community at large. Assistants who are not yet trained in The Montessori Curriculum often go on to receive the full Montessori hands-on training. These newly-minted teachers return after their training and intern for a year guided by both an experienced supervising teacher and a Montessori mentor, who regularly observes in the classroom as a continuation of teachers’ training. This helps to create a collaborative faculty culture at RPMS as the teachers work alongside each other, learning and growing. The excitement and newness of recently-trained faculty blends seamlessly with more tenured teachers whose innate comfort with the materials and methods helps support the interns. The level of teaching tenure and retention at RPMS has been a source of pride for our school and continues to illustrate the quality and dedication of our teaching staff.
Our staff come from a wide variety of personal backgrounds, education, and careers. For instance, Elementary Director Liz Shanahan worked as an architect before she enrolled her children at RPMS. As her children moved through the programs, her volunteer work with the Art Program drew her to further support the school through volunteer roles in the Art Program, fundraising, and coordinating volunteers. Shifting her career into education, through Montessori teacher training, she became a toddler teacher and later an upper elementary art teacher. As our program grew, she moved to the role of Arts Director. This year with her move to Elementary Director, Liz says “All the different hats have helped me to observe through a unique lens.” Her role in administration intertwines her personal insight of the Montessori philosophy, volunteer management, and fundraising, to better know what we expect and how to support our teachers and staff
In the end, what families often remember as they look back over the course of their years at Rogers Park Montessori School is the emotional connection formed between the teachers and the student. Throughout each year, our teachers connect with students in ways large and small, celebrating news of a child who successfully navigates difficult material, encouraging a child having a difficult time controlling their body by inviting them to sit next to the teacher, connecting with a shy student over a special love for dinosaurs and incorporating that love into a group discussion, spending hours in conversations with family, outside professional support, learning specialists and administration to support students with personal challenges. Students from ‘upstairs’ greet their former preschool teachers with hugs and excitement. Each teacher recognizes that they are responsible for helping carry these young humans through the peak of intellectual, emotional, social and psychological growth from the ages of 2 to 14.