Staff Spotlight Post: Ali Packo
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams.
I started my teaching career in the public school system. I spent eight years teaching in the elementary classroom. Then, I took the opportunity to stay home with my kids, Anthony and Annie, for eight years. While I was home with my oldest, I first discovered West Side Montessori. I had signed up for the Acorn to Oak program. Through my experience there, I immediately fell in love with the Montessori approach to learning. My experience in the Acorn to Oak program made me realize that I wanted to become a Montessori educator. I began teaching in the Children’s House classroom at West Side. I worked with Amy Lawrence in the Maple Room for four years. While I had a great home in the Maple Room, I yearned to return to the lower elementary classroom. Thus, I moved into the Cardinal Room. This summer, I will embark on my second Montessori training program. I will be attending the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education program to earn my Lower Elementary Montessori Teaching Certificate. I can readily relate to Montessori students, in that I am a curious learner myself! I always welcome the opportunity to learn more, especially about my own craft.
What are your interests?
Spending time with my family – Often, our weekends are filled by my children’s extracurricular events. When I have down time for myself, you might find me swimming laps, doing yoga, going on a bike ride or curling up and reading a good book.
Do you have a favorite Montessori Quote?
“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
What do you love about Montessori?
I love how the Montessori approach to learning engages the senses and allows the teacher to follow the interests of the child. Promoting respect for others is an underlying theme of the Montessori philosophy. This underlying theme allows for children to feel respected and empowered.
What is your favorite area in the classroom and why?
My favorite part of the classroom is the math area. The Montessori math materials give students the opportunity to move from the concrete to the abstract.
What would you tell a prospective family about West Side?
I would tell them that West Side Montessori does a great job of meeting the needs of the whole child. We care about the social, emotional, academic, and physical well being of each child at our school. The educational foundation that is laid here allows for students to excel in future academic environments.
What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
I would advise new parents to observe at each level. It is truly remarkable what our students do here. By observing each level, an adult would gain a better understanding of our unique approach to learning.
Why did you choose to teach here?
I choose to teach at West Side because I loved the Montessori approach to learning.
What motivated you to go into teaching?
I have always enjoyed helping others, especially children.
What’s the most important life lesson you’d like to share with your students?
Perseverance – Sometimes, things can be difficult. It is important not to give up and to keep trying. When a task is difficult for a student, I encourage him/her to keep trying. When a child accomplishes something new for him/herself, I’ll often hear, “I did it!”, and see a huge, celebratory smile.
How do students inspire/motivate you?
Students are inquisitive. Sometimes, they ask a question that I do not readily have an answer for. Their thirst for knowledge inspires me to learn more.
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.