This summer we welcomed two new members to our Mountain Shadows staff community – Joni Perry and Scott Oram. While they will serve in very different capacities, both have the common goal of helping Mountain Shadows become a premier Montessori program. We are both fortunate and excited to have them on our team.
Joni Perry joins us from the Bay Area as our new lower elementary teacher. While she is new to MSMS, she is certainly not new to Montessori. With over 20 years experience, a love of the arts, and a passion for helping elementary children become their highest and best selves, Joni is a wonderful fit for our growing Mountain Shadows community. Her is her introductory letter and brief bio in her own words:
I am an educator, a guide, a teacher, an art lover, but mostly, I am a learner. From my earliest memory of setting up a classroom in my basement and coercing my brothers into my imaginary school, I have been attracted to teaching. I have spent the majority of my adult life exploring how children learn and how to inspire them to reach their fullest potential.
A second passion for me has been my deep love of the arts. Art was my way into the world of education. My first degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts and I quickly merged my two interests by getting a K-12 art credential. I experienced the power of giving children the tools to be creative. I could see how art was a natural vehicle for discovering the world. I went back and achieved a multi-subject credential so that I could broaden my teaching.
I taught in public school for several years with a strong desire to somehow find a better way to allow children to thrive and learn. In my search for a more progressive child-centered education, I came across the Montessori philosophy. I was intrigued by the emphasis on social justice, inclusion and diversity, community service, and global stewardship.
My first observation of a Montessori classroom was that the children were asked to show caring and compassion for others and were learning to work in a cooperative environment. The Montessori philosophy is committed to educating the whole child. Paying careful attention to the developmental needs of the students to ensure the best preparation for a lifetime of learning is a backbone principle of the Montessori philosophy. The Montessori approach was such a different focus from the traditional classroom, and I knew I had found my path as a teacher.
After earning an AMI Montessori diploma, I went on to receive a Master of Arts in Education. Working in a Montessori classroom, and continually looking at all the new brain research, I was empowered to see how it complemented and supported my practice in the classroom. I frequently discovered that Maria Montessori’s early observations about children and her brilliant teaching method really do work for children.
So why do I teach? I have always had the purest fun in my classroom, finding joy in the journey. It is humbling to watch children genuinely show you what is possible with determination and the right support. I am looking forward to working with the students and community of Mountain Shadows to support that determination and offer that right support.
Scott Oram joins us in the new administrative role of Assistant Head of School/Director of Operations. He brings both education and business experience to help support the mission, vision and operations of the school. He will be overseeing the financial aspects of the school and also helping us find ways to strengthen and grow the school while supporting and expanding our student population. He has even reintroduced the conversation about an MSMS Middle School. Here are Scott’s thoughts on joining Mountain Shadows and a short bio in his own words:
It’s with great excitement that I’m returning to the field of Montessori education, and I’m really excited to be joining the wonderful staff at Mountain Shadows Montessori Montessori School. This school is clearly dedicated to both children and to Montessori education, making it a wonderful place to work and support non-traditional learning. This also brings me back full circle to where I started.
Just out of college with a Master of Education, I started teaching English and social studies at a Montessori school in Southlake, TX. Fortunately, I got to work alongside many extremely dedicated and talented Montessori educators. During my time there, I learned a lot and realized that the Montessori approach to education paralleled my own ideas of how children should be intimately involved in their own education. I was also given the unique opportunity to lay the groundwork for a middle and high school program, a project that became a passion for me. We were very fortunate to grow that program and have a significant impact on the lives of many wonderful adolescents.
In addition to working as an educator, I’ve also run my own real estate business and hold a Master of Real Estate/Business. This was also an amazing opportunity that gave me unique insights into the different facets of running a business, and I got to be involved in supporting clients, managing and coaching agents, creating and marketing a brand, and so much more. My plan now is to combine my background in education and business to help support the incredible things that are taking place at Mountain Shadows.
In my first week at MSMS, I found myself helping create agendas for the next school year with Liana and patching cracks in the school parking lot alongside John Dowell, our facilities manager and Scott Dooley, a generous board member. That first week was a quick reminder that being involved in the running of a private school means all hands on deck at all times. This, to me, is what working at a small school is all about — it’s a community of people who all lead busy lives that must find a way to focus their limited resources in such a way that big goals can be accomplished in support of the kids. To this end, I’m eager to meet everyone and look forward to figuring out how we can all partner together to make the biggest splash possible in Montessori education right here in Boulder, CO.