During a parent/teacher conference, a parent asked Primary teacher Koral Walters, “I hear you have a new boy in your room.” Perplexed, Koral couldn’t think of any new students.
“Yes, Trayton,” said the parent. Koral laughed and explained that Trayton Tepedelen is a former student of hers who fulfills his middle school community service requirements by volunteering in her classroom every week.
As a then-sixth grade student, Trayton and his dad, Kamuran, were driving by his old school and remembered how much he loved it, and loved Mrs. Walters, and was struck with an idea, “That’s where I want to do my service work!”
He was already volunteering at the Humane Society, but asked Koral if he could come in every Wednesday morning prior to his late BVSD start to help out. What began as a requirement has turned into ritual for two years and far exceeds his service requirement hours.
So each week Trayton’s dad drops him off at the circle and he spends the next 90 minutes in the room he loved as a child.
“When I first came back I hadn’t been in that classroom in five years. It hasn’t changed that much. It was strange at first and everything seemed so small, but now I’m used to it.”
As the oldest child in the classroom, Trayton falls right into a familiar leadership role each week. He can sense when a younger child is struggling or looks confused and asks if he can help. More often, it’s a child that approaches him and asks to work together.
“I enjoy helping students then watching them do it on their own. The experience makes them confident and makes them think, ‘I’m a big kid and can do this!’”
Trayton’s dad, Kamuran, recalled Mountain Shadows being a warm and loving period of growth for his son and knows the school, and Koral, hold a special place in Trayton’s heart, “He really enjoys working with little kids because he enjoyed being helpful when he was their age.”
Koral knows the children look forward to Wednesdays when they know Trayton will be in, “They love him and look forward to him coming every week. He once missed two straight weeks and the children really noticed him not being here. He’s such a great role model for them.”
With his dedication to Montessori and the classroom, one might think Trayton’s future lies in education. It might…but not what you’re thinking.
“I love little kids and I love cooking,” he shared. “I can see myself teaching cooking so they don’t grow up using microwaves.”
Trayton has quite the young culinary skills. He learned with his parents and says they’re great cooks. He enjoys preparing Asian and Mediterranean because, “The limits of dishes go beyond flavor and experimentation.”
No matter what career path he follows, Trayton will always credit his Montessori beginnings.
“Montessori provides a hands-on experience. Everything I did at Mountain Shadows was an adventure and it was cool. It disciplined me, made me focus on the task at hand, and prepared me for the future.
I write a ton of papers and I know how to do it on my own, and I ask for help if needed. And I’m not a stressed middle school student.”
I’m doing really well and I know there are great futures from Montessori beginnings. It sets you up to do really cool things.”
“There’s never a week that he doesn’t want to go. I’m sure he’ll be back next year if Koral lets him!” said Kamuran.