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by Becky Noble

I have been a strong supporter of Montessori education since before Ben was born, having read several of Maria Montessori’s books and applied those methods when working with my employer’s young children.

When it was time for Ben’s dad and me to decide on a kindergarten for Ben, we considered a few options. Ben’s dad had been in public school throughout his education and felt that, if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for Ben. He was, however, willing to look at private schools as well. I recall visiting at least three schools, including the public elementary school closest to our home, a Christian School, and Countryside/NewGate Montessori.

Even though I expected lower standards at the public school, I was floored when the teacher told us that not every student was expected to know the whole alphabet by the end of the kindergarten year. Ben and his preschool classmates all knew the alphabet and had started reading by that time. Although the education level at the Christian School seemed to be up to my expectations, the classrooms were noisy and cluttered.

When we visited Countryside/NewGate, I knew that was where Ben would flourish. The quiet, orderly classrooms provided an ideal place for a young child to learn. I appreciated the respect with which each student was treated, and the way conflicts were resolved. I found the three-year age span in the classrooms to be an excellent way for a student to experience being a beginner, learning from the older students, and to work his/her way up to being a leader among the students, helping the younger ones. I was also happy to hear that each student could progress at his/ her own pace, not being held back to the level of the lowest common denominator.

Yes, there were some sacrifices made to have Ben attend Montessori school all the way through high school. Ben’s dad and I separated two months after Ben began Montessori school. I faced all the challenges that single parents face: reworking my schedule to accommodate Ben’s needs; trying to make ends meet; figuring out the financial aspect; etc. It was a very difficult time, but I was determined to provide Ben with what I considered to be his best educational opportunity. Looking back on it now, that was one of the most valuable things that I have gone through. I learned to be resourceful and to stand by my principles when it came to raising Ben.

Ben’s dad and I contributed to a portion of the tuition, but the bulk of it was on my shoulders. Even though it was a stretch to pay each month, I was not willing to lower my standards and deny Ben the opportunities he had at Countryside/New Gate School. The school helped with a generous contribution in the form of a scholarship. I believe paying at least a portion of the tuition gave me a bigger stake in my child’s education and I tended to be even more involved in it. When my new partner, Michael, came into our family full-time, he was active in projects and events at the school as he saw and supported the value of the education that Ben was getting. Ben graduated from NewGate School in 2005.

Now that Ben is grown, married, and the father of two beautiful girls, Michael and I support Ben and Kara’s choice to enroll Aurora and Felicity in a good Montessori school. I’m delighted that both girls are doing so well in that environment.

Becky Noble grew up in rural Pennsylvania, traveling around the country with her family every summer. For four years after graduation, she sailed the European coast and Caribbean, overseeing the galleys and teaching math and world history aboard the schooners of the Flint School. She transferred to their Sarasota, Florida office to help build ActionQuest travel adventure and Lifeworks community service programs that would eventually become Global Expeditions. She recently relocated to Franklin, Tennessee to be close to Ben and his family. When not spending time with her granddaughters, Becky now runs an online business and is a watercolor artist who enjoys sharing her knowledge with young people.