Staff Spotlight Post: Brandi Parcell
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
I have two children whom both attend West Side beginning at 13 months old. Holden is going to be in Kindergarten next year and Grayson will be moving up to Children’s House. I have a Bachelors of Early Childhood Education, a Masters of Higher Education, and my American Montessori Society 3-6 Certification. I enjoyed teaching in Children’s House for eight years before transitioning to Perrysburg Campus Director for the last five years. My favorite thing to do is spend time outdoors with my family and volunteer in the greater community. Fun fact: I’m currently volunteering on the Downtown Perrysburg Inc. Board and chairing the summer First Friday Series and planning the first community family fun run, Zip the Burg!
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
“Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world.” -Maria Montessori
Q: What do you love about Montessori
Ohhh, this is a loaded question! Can I say I love everything? In all seriousness, I love that Montessori is so specific to each individual child. When I was a teacher I would spend hours researching, planning, and preparing specific work for the students. Now, as a Montessori mom, it’s so fun to see the same care and preparation for my own children in their classrooms.
Q: What is your favorite area in the classroom and why?
When I was a classroom teacher my favorite area of the classroom was math. The power behind the brilliantly designed materials will stand the tests of time. When children are presented with the right materials at the right time magic happens. West Side’s teachers are truly gifted at recognizing these sensitive periods and presenting materials (no matter the curriculum area). I was trained to do this and now see it happening with my own children. It is sincerely a joyful journey teachers go on with each and every student.
Q: What would you tell a prospective family about West Side?
I would tell them to come observe! There’s nothing better than seeing Montessori in action. Students in the toddler program through the middle school exude skills that people often work their whole lives to master! Montessori students are confident communicators, self-motivated learners, and compassionate leaders.
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton. It’s a sweet story about two dinosaurs who love each other. I love this book SO much that my husband and I wrote to the author and asked for permission to use it during our wedding ceremony.
“Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place.”
Q: Now that the hardest question is out of the way: What’s your favorite color?
Oh that’s easy. Navy. No purple. No blue. Well, honestly, maybe this is a trick and this is the hard question? What’s your favorite color? 😉
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
When I was an undergrad student at the University of Toledo, I had a placement in the Little House with Karen Callinan as my cooperating teacher. Karen had so much joy and passion and respected the children in ways I had never seen in a school. I knew, within minutes, I would one day work for West Side Montessori and love children the way she did.
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
I would say don’t try to perfectly replicate the classrooms with all the materials. You’ll make yourself crazy. Instead, look at the things that are practical to do and focus more on the grace and courtesy stuff. Work with your child on becoming a good person, with healthy habits, and to care about the world. Try not to focus as much on all the little details. I really think parenting is so hard and even trained Montessori teacher parents are figuring it out as we go.
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
Honestly, the cool research! Did you know the University of Kansas has an entire department dedicated to Montessori research? Time and time again, Montessori students all around the world out perform matched students in traditional education programs and the research is proving it! During the most recent AMS Conference in Washington, D.C. I attended many research sessions and am looking forward to applying what I learned here at WSM!
Q: Why did you choose to teach/work here?
I chose to work here because I’m pretty certain it was destiny. I 100% knew it was my calling after my first visit in a WSM classroom. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, trust, and support I’ve had and continue to receive from this great school!
Q: What motivated you to go into teaching/working at a school?
When I was a little girl I played “house” like many children do. I always wanted to be the teacher and run the classrooms and schools. I never wanted to be the mom, sister, neighbor, or coach. I’ve known my entire life I wanted to be a teacher. Now that I’m in administration I still identify as a teacher. Honestly, because I still am. I will always be a teacher of something.
Q: What’s the most important life lesson you’d like to share with your students?
I’d say the most important lesson I learned while teaching is enjoy each moment. Try not to worry about everything all at once. It’s very easy to get caught up in your long list of things to do at home, work, school, etc. Just stop and enjoy THIS moment.
Brandi Parcell is the Perrysburg Campus Director at West Side Montessori and holds a Masters Degree in Higher Education and American Montessori Certification for ages 3-6. Brandi was nominated for 20 Under 40 Nominee, Toledo Leadership 2018 and Toledo Area Parent Teacher of the Year Award 2014-2015. Brandi is passionate about parent education and community building. She currently serves as a board member for Downtown Perrysburg Inc.
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.