Staff Spotlight Post: Molly Bernhardt
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams?
I’m the youngest of 4 children, born and raised in Toledo. I am a mom of 4 children, born in 3 different cities and raised in 2 states. Bailey 22, Brantley 19, Kate 16 and Gerald 15. My husband is a southern boy from North Carolina that I met on the dunes of Lake Michigan. We have 2 dogs and 1 cat. I love sports of all kinds and being creative. Pottery and swimming are my favorite hobbies.
Q: What’s your favorite Montessori quote?
The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”
Q: What do you love about Montessori?
I love everything about Montessori! However, I especially love that once the environment is set and the spark is ignited, the children are free to construct their own knowledge and create such amazing work. Over my 10 years at West Side, I have experienced some of the most creative, loving, excited, motivated, self-driven little people that are proud of what they have done and are willing to show others the way. When my job is removing obstacles so that ALL children can succeed, I am most satisfied!
Q: What is your favorite area in the classroom and why?
It’s probably the math area, particularly the bead cabinet, because of the brilliance of Maria Montessori and all that she tied into one set of materials. My other favorite is any space where a child is sprawled out with creative chaos surrounding them, up to their eyeballs in a project.
Q: Do you have a favorite book? How about a film?
My favorite book is Koala Lou, by Mem Fox. I like romantic comedies like The Proposal.
Q: What first appealed to you about Montessori?
That it takes into account the individual and what is developmentally appropriate, not what’s measured by tests.
Q: What advice do you have for new Montessori adults?
Patience with all involved, especially yourself. The learning curve is enormous, but there are so many willing to help you.
Q: What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home?
Start by setting up an environment where your child has independence and access to as many things as possible to be able to help himself appropriately; child-size tables, stools, utensils and cups at his level, his toys and art supplies at his level. It is so much easier to put a child’s shoes and coat on him than to wait patiently for him to do it, but give him (and yourself) time. It will save time in the long run!
Q: What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
After all these years of the philosophy and materials being the same, it still works as beautifully as Maria Montessori had intended it to. Children are children…1850 or 2019.
Q: Why did you choose to teach/work here?
It just fits my personality and beliefs about children and learning.
Q: What motivated you to go into teaching/working at a school?
I was always a kid-magnet when I was younger and loved helping others to see that “lightbulb”. So after starting in graphic design and realizing that wasn’t me, I switched to education and never looked back.
Q: What’s the most important life lesson you’d like to share with your students? (How is this conveyed in your classroom?)
As Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one else that is you-er than you.”
I want children to be true to themselves and not compare themselves. We all have our special gifts and those challenging spots. But we are all put here for a reason and I love each of them for exactly that!
Q; How do students inspire/motivate you?
They humble me every day and I love that. Montessori has taught me to appreciate learning from the children and not feeling like I have to know everything. I have seen many children successfully graduate from West Side and when they were in LE, it was SO hard for them. They were not the traditional learners. But they kept working hard and made it and are doing amazing things now. That is motivation to keep working for the children that need more support!
Molly has been a teacher at West Side since 2010 and is the mother of two WSM alumni. She earned her Bachelors in Education from Kent State University and Montessori Certified by AMS at Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center, Chicago for Lower Elementary (ages 6 – 9).
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.