Preschool at The New Century School is where it all starts—and started! Opening its doors in September 2010, TNCS has since nurtured thousands of students ages 2 years and up. Its preprimary and primary divisions are, in some ways, the heart of the school, so it is with great pleasure that we introduce Terriann Lane, who has taken over as Preschool Coordinator! Ms. Lane’s journey spans diverse experiences and roles within the Montessori educational system.
Ms. Lane is mom to two adult children. She and her family traveled extensively while dad was a naval officer. Originating from Louisville, KY, she acquired her degree in elementary education from the University of Louisville. Although she did her practicum in a traditional 4th-grade classroom, there was a period where she stepped away from teaching, focusing on raising her children while moving around in multiple states, including Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, and Hawai’i. This geographical tapestry forms a backdrop to her diverse experiences, providing a rich context to her journey in Montessori education.
She decided to settle in Maryland around 10 years ago, drawn by the state’s abundance of Montessori schools.
Terriann Lane: A True Montessorian
Her journey in the Montessori system started as a parent looking for a suitable school for her children. Her introduction to Montessori education was a transformative moment. Comparing Montessori to what she learned during her undergraduate study, she found the former to make significantly more sense. The sight of 4-year-olds reading and writing in a Montessori classroom was a revelation, showcasing a stark contrast to her own educational experiences and what she had observed in traditional settings. This difference fueled her fascination and determination to integrate her children into the Montessori environment.
Her children embraced Montessori education — her son through primary and her daughter until elementary.
Her background in elementary education quickly came to light during her visits, and she was invited to teach, despite her initial lack of Montessori-specific training.
Deciding against teaching without proper training, she was fortunate enough to receive sponsored training in Celebration, Florida. Post-training, her journey involved extensive travel before she found herself settled and teaching in Maryland.
She taught in the Montessori classroom for 18 years, later ascending to the head of the primary program for 2 years. During her tenure at her last school, which lasted 6 years, she transitioned into a role as an instructional guide for adults at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). This role, which she has now embraced for 4 years, involves guiding adults aspiring to become Montessorians—an endeavor she finds incredibly rewarding. “I really love growing the learning of adults who are passionate about Montessori,” she said.
Despite her extensive experience, she maintains a humble perspective, considering herself no veteran in comparison to mentors with 30 years’ and more experience still active in the classroom. Now, venturing into a new chapter, she is excited to continue growing and fostering learning within a Montessori-inspired program at TNCS. Here, she values the palpable passion for children’s development, a cornerstone of the Montessori method.
Her journey reveals a story of growth, adaptation, and a perpetual passion for Montessori education, shedding light on the intricate tapestry of experiences that mold educators in this unique educational landscape.
Ms. Lane at TNCS!
Arriving at TNCS was a consequence of change. The closure of her previous school, Nurturing Nest Montessori, in Columbia, due to the owners’ retirement, prompted Ms. Lane to view this as an opportunity to grow and embrace a new role. It was a chance to expand what she loves to do with CGMS.
Reflecting on her initial impressions of TNCS, she expressed enthusiasm for the opportunities it presents. Montessori education’s emphasis on grace, courtesy, kindness, respect, and valuing children’s independence resonates deeply with her. She sees the potential for impact, believing in the power of young learners to enact positive change in the world. Traditional education doesn’t focus as intently on this crucial aspect of growth and development.
In Montessori, the emphasis on valuing the the power of children gives us an opportunity to to change the world. We have an opportunity to do something different and and to actually change the world, even if it’s a teeny bit in our little building.
Addressing her goals for the year, she shared her vision of building a stronger Montessori program. TNCS hails itself as Montessori-inspired, and she believes that this approach can significantly benefit students. “The curriculum speaks for itself: if we follow it, we do a great service to the children,” she explained. Her ambition is to enhance the program’s strength and provide the necessary support to the adults involved, embodying her passion for Montessori education and her commitment to nurturing learning and supporting families the Montessori way.
Her transition to TNCS involved several structural changes in the classroom, focusing primarily on transforming the preprimary classroom from a more traditional daycare setting to one aligned with Montessori principles. The classroom environment is pivotal in Montessori education, serving as the foundation and an integral part of the curriculum, so ensuring it was specifically prepared to meet the children’s needs was essential.
This transition was no small task and involved a thorough revamp to address aspects that were previously lacking and ensure the classrooms were authentic, prepared Montessori environments. The process required a great deal of work and resources . . . and IKEA . . . to meet the specific needs of the redesigned space.
Prior to implementing the changes, Ms. Lane held meetings to understand the needs, challenges, and requirements of the teachers. She inquired about what was working, what was lacking, and how she could offer support, emphasizing the importance of open communication.
Her approach is grounded in support rather than imposition, recognizing the importance of respecting teachers’ autonomy and not dictating every aspect of how things should be done. This balanced approach demonstrates her commitment to supporting the teaching staff while ensuring the authenticity of the Montessori environments. “What has always bugged me about traditional education is you have a lot of people telling the experts in the classroom what to do, and they all have a different opinion, so it either works—if the child gets lucky—or it doesn’t work,” she said.
Feeling embraced by the TNCS community, Ms. Lane appreciates the warm reception she has received at TNCS. While adjusting to her new role was a shift from being a classroom teacher, she still feels closely connected to teaching. Having been a teacher, she believes, enables her to offer valuable perspective and support to the current teachers. She acknowledges the clear difference between traditional and Montessori education.
Her day at TNCS is dynamic and diverse, with no 2 days being the same. She usually arrives with bags full of materials to share with teachers—items they have requested or things she believes they need. After settling in, she makes her rounds through the classrooms, observing, organizing, and preparing for discussions and quick meetings to check on progress. She then assists with the arrival of the children before addressing her emails.
The day unfolds with a mix of tasks—people knocking on her door with various needs, possible administrative meetings, and interacting with parents. The role involves more time on the computer than she had previously experienced. Despite this, she doesn’t remain stationary, actively observing in classrooms and engaging with teachers. Discussions revolve around lesson planning, observations, record-keeping, and the logistics of managing their classrooms.
Although her role primarily involves coordination and administrative tasks, Ms. Lane can’t resist engaging directly with the children. Recounting a recent experience, she shared how a visit to a classroom to observe turned into an impromptu teaching session, which she found incredibly rewarding. Eager to repeat such experiences, she informed the preschool teachers that she is available for more hands-on interaction with the students whenever they like.
She is even transforming her office space into a dual-purpose area, serving both as her workspace and an additional classroom space for children. By simply repositioning her table and adding a screen, she aims to create a multifunctional area, which, in her view, is a logical and practical adaptation of the space.
When asked what she would like parents to know, her message was heartfelt and straightforward: “From all of us, we care about your children, and we want this to be an amazing year!”