We are excited to announce our new blog project, “Capstone Connections”! Each month, we will feature interviews with our Montessori graduates (both current and alumni) so that readers can learn more about our program through personal accounts of the experience. We hope you enjoy!!
Our first story comes to us from Maria Santoyo (’16), who completed her Primary training at the International Montessori Training Institute (IMTI) in Atlanta and graduated from Loyola in 2016.
Tell us about your journey as a student. What made you want to become a teacher?
I have always been drawn to the idea of truly making a difference in our world. Looking back, there was one teacher in particular who inspired me to pursue the opportunity to change lives for the better. He was my 4th grade teacher, and he became a beacon of inclusion and ambition for me. I had just moved to the States and my English was, let’s just say, less than useful! But in his classroom, there wasn't a single thing I couldn't achieve. I realize now, especially amidst such a divisive time in our country, how his kindness played a monumental role in who I am today. There are many ways to make a difference in the world, but helping a child develop confidence and self-worth is the most beautiful way to do it.
I am a firm believer of Maria Montessori's quote, "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." I am incredibly proud to follow in the footsteps of many great educators and leaders who fight to make our world a more peaceful and inclusive place. This is just the beginning of my contribution to what still is a long fight ahead of us.
When did you first venture into Montessori training, and what were your reasons for doing so?
My mother was a Montessorian, so I was a Montessori child and have been around it ever since. It came as the most natural transition to earn my AMI diploma and get involved in early childhood development. I completed my training shortly after my graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Congratulations on surviving the Montessori Summer Session! What were some of the highlights of your experience during those four weeks?
It was tough! But so worth it. There are many times when I have to stop and remind myself that it actually happened; it went by so quickly. I had heard both sides about whether it was better to take on the summer session immediately after training or not, but for me personally, it was definitely the right decision to do it right away. My brain was already in gear and I was used to the long study/work schedule from training.
One of the coolest parts of the summer session was coming together as a group with people from all around the country to finalize our studies. To know that every single person there was just as devoted to pursuing Montessori education and making a difference for future generations was such a unifying feeling. Not to mention the professors and advisors from Loyola who worked so closely with us the 4 weeks we were there and shared their passion for education with us.
Now that you have completed the M.Ed. through Loyola, do you have any thoughts or concerns you want to share about our program?
It was very helpful to have had the check-ins with Jack while we were at training. If it hadn't been for that I would have felt very out of place when I got there. I had to remember to look at the bigger picture!
Do you have any hobbies you would like to tell us about?
Language is my other passion. I grew up trilingual and aspire to know 10 languages proficiently by the time I'm 30 years old. My vision is to combine language immersion and Montessori to create the ideal learning environment for children! It is so important to have exposure to other cultures other than one’s own, and language is a beneficial way to do just that. Instilling in children a sense of inclusion and appreciation for others could very well be the answer to a peaceful future. Currently, I am in charge of the Spanish program at Chesterfield Montessori School in St. Louis, which I recently founded.
Thanks, Maria, for sharing your story!
#OurFavoriteInsight: “There are many ways to make a difference in the world, but helping a child develop confidence and self-worth is the most beautiful way to do it.” – Maria Santoyo ‘16