The New Century School values what each individual member of the community brings to the beautiful whole. This is no less true for TNCS teachers, who are, after all, helping introduce young humans to the world and what it offers. Their unique perspectives incrementally broaden students’ horizons and ignite the passion for exploration.
For TNCS grades 2 and 3 English Language Arts and Global Studies teacher Sarah Weiskopf, this is a deeply held tenet.
I really believe in guiding the student toward self-construction, showing them where the tools are, so they can kind of teach themselves. In the Montessori way, you put things out, you give a lesson, and you inspire students toward learning. In that inspiration toward learning, they actually are making themselves into whole human beings. So I like to just be the guide and kind of step back and allow that knowledge and exploration to unfold.
How Sarah Weiskopf Came to TNCS
Ms. Weiskopf started teaching at TNCS in the 2021–2022 school year. She is about to commence her third year at TNCS and is even helping out with summer camp in the meantime.
But she traveled a few dozen thousands of miles to get here. To start this journey from the beginning, Ms. Weiskopf attended Skidmore College, a liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, NY, for her undergraduate degree. After an on-campus job in the dining hall taught her that food service was definitely not her thing, she began working in a preschool and loves that experience.
She bookmarked that for a bit, not yet certain that teaching children was her avocation, and moved to Prague in the Czech Republic in 2013. There, while teaching English as a second language to adults, she realized that she preferred teaching younger students after all. So, she interviewed at the International Montessori School of Prague as an ELA support teacher and was hired. “Then someone in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd classroom was leaving temporarily, and I took over in that classroom as the assistant,” she explains. “I fell in love with the theory behind Montessori, and watching it in practice was really inspiring.”
She lived in Prague for 3 more years, then made a pit stop in Southeast Asia to do some teaching-subsidized travel there. When she returned to the United States, she had a goal: earning a Master’s degree in Montessori Education. So, instead of going home to her native town of Pittsburgh, PA, she arrived in Baltimore to enroll at Loyola University Maryland. She took a slight detour back to food service to support herself through graduate school, waiting tables and bartending.
With her Master’s degree in hand, Ms. Weiskopf has been teaching for several years. She decided to remain in Baltimore, which is close enough to Pittsburgh to see her family regularly, and bought a house here last year. She taught in Baltimore City and Baltimore County private schools for a bit, but, when the pandemic hit, some of her students’ parents approached her about leading an at-home school in Monkton. She had a cohort of 13 students in grades 1st through 7 and taught all subjects (with the help of an employees she brought on to help out with the upper-level math. They did most teaching and learning outdoors. “In the winter, we had a little garage space that we worked in with space heaters,” she recounts. “We did a lot of hands-on learning. For instance, the kids were really into biking, so I taught the 7th-graders how to use power tools, and they built bike ramps and little bridges on the property. That was a blast!”
Ms. Weiskopf at TNCS
When in-person school was about to start back up, Ms. Weiskopf got the call to interview at TNCS, having been recommended as a candidate by a teacher friend. Although she misses teaching all subjects and having her students all day long (à la Montessori and her pandemic pod experiences), she is enjoying her time here and especially appreciates her co-teacher Swati Mehta. “She and I are really able to share ideas back and forth and collaborate,” said Ms. Weiskopf. “We are so in sync at this point that it’s just second nature working with her. So I really love the ability to have a co-teacher in that capacity.”
And for you, TNCS parents, she wants you to know that your involvement is most welcome.
The part of the job that I love the most, actually, is parent/teacher relationships. I really see teaching as a partnership between me and the students’ parents or family members. I can’t do my work without their involvement; they can’t do their work as parents without my involvement. So I really do think that we are a team. I’m an open book, and I really want parents and family members to come and ask questions, see lessons, and really be involved.
Outside of TNCS
Although teaching requires a monumental amount of energy, commitment, and care, Ms. Weiskopf finds plenty of latitude for extracurricular activities: “I like to spend time with my fiancé hiking, biking, and walking our dog Phoebe. We love to travel and go camping as often as we are able! We have a workshop in our basement for home renovation and DIY projects. We most recently built a coffee table.”
Wait—fiancé? You read that correctly; besides starting her third year at TNCS, Ms. Weiskopf has another big event to look forward to: she is getting married in December! As the seasoned traveler you are, we know you will fare very well on that upcoming journey!