TNCS’s Montessori Professional Development Trip: A Transformative Journey

Terriann Lane has been Preschool Coordinator at The New Century School for a only few months so far, but her impact far outdistances her tenure!

One big example of Ms. Lane’s impact happened last month. TNCS preschool teachers embarked on an enriching professional development trip to the scenic Mountain Laurel Montessori (MLM) in Front Royal, Virginia. This venture provided teachers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in an authentic Montessori environment. They observed and engaged with both toddler (preprimary) and primary classrooms, soaking in the Montessori method in action.

Ms. Lane explained: “The visit was orchestrated through the guidance of my mentor, who connected me with a stellar Montessori teacher. She said to me, ‘You are two of my favorite people, and I need to connect you!'” The idea quickly took root, and Mountain Laurel Montessori opened its doors for observation and learning.

The group departed from TNCS on Sunday, October 8 at 2:30 p.m. On Monday, they went to MLM at 7:30 a.m. to meet their hosts and be directed to classrooms to observe before the children arrive at 8:00 a.m. There were nine in total, including Ms. Lane, Ms. Simonetti, Wang Laoshi, Sra. Garcia (x2!), Ms. Sussman, Sra. Pupo, Sra. Loveras, and Sharon Laoshi.

Beyond the professional growth, the trip was a delightful adventure involving, among other things, driving the TNCS van very slowly up a mountain. “We laughed and marveled as we navigated the Shenandoah Valley, arriving at a charming Airbnb nestled in the woods. It was an idyllic setting for continued learning, with additional sessions there on material-making and curriculum development led by myself and Ms. Simonetti,” said Ms. Lane.

Ms. Simonetti said of the experience:

We had a wonderful cabin; it was rustic but beautiful, with details like a claw foot tub. It was a great experience to see a different Montessori school and all the things that we’ve been introducing to them and showing them. Even though we have training and observation videos to see what’s possible, seeing it in practice are two different things. It really helps bridge the gap. And, again being able to connect with Ms. Lane and share our complementary knowledge and make plans for, for example, when a preprimary student might be ready to move up to primary. What are the skill sets? What are the different developmental elements that may indicate that readiness?

For many, the highlight of the trip was the bonding experience—sharing meals, conversations, and a deeper understanding of each other, both personally and professionally. It ignited curiosity among the teachers, who eagerly sought to enhance their knowledge and explore the potential for their classroom environments.

Reflecting on the trip, many teachers experienced a multitude of eye-opening moments. “As a passionate observer, I enjoyed witnessing both new and familiar teaching methods, which sparked ideas for implementation and improvement,” said Ms. Lane.

The journey has already spurred positive change at TNCS. Teachers are embracing the rich offerings of Montessori education with renewed vigor. Classrooms are transforming into spaces that reflect authentic Montessori environments, showcasing the commitment of TNCS educators to more fully embrace this approach. Those inspired by the trip are now pursuing further training, with interests ranging from positive discipline to Montessori philosophy and movement in the classroom.

This trip was a pioneering step for TNCS—an overnight professional development experience that proved to be a resounding success. It’s something we look forward to making a tradition, alongside arranging local development opportunities like those the preschool assistants enjoyed at Greenspring Montessori School.

This experience was a testament to the power of community, professional camaraderie, and the pursuit of educational excellence. It’s clear that TNCS preschool teachers are not just growing as individuals but also collectively elevating TNCS to new heights.

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