Staff Spotlight: Katie Bellman

Katie Bellman is a Children's House teacher in the Sycamore classroom.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your background, your interests, your dreams
I was born in Toledo, Ohio. I have one brother, Cameron, who is 18 months older than me. Cameron was in the same preschool class as my husband, Tyler. We have family videos/pictures of Tyler, Cameron, and myself at my brother’s 5th birthday party! Twenty years later Tyler and I went on our first date after meeting again through mutual friends.
My family moved to Swanton, Ohio when I was going into 3rd grade. I graduated from Central Catholic High School. I then went on to attend college at The University of Toledo where I graduated with an undergrad in Speech-Language Pathology. We moved to Monclova right after I graduated college.
My husband, Tyler, son, Bowen, and dog, Brewer, enjoy spending time in the local Metroparks; running, biking and hiking. We also enjoy gathering with our friends and family for meals and game nights. Listening to live music is our favorite date night.
My dream was always to become a mom. My motherhood journey has been full of joy and sorrow.
My current dream is to be present. Life moves so fast. I am guilty of looking back in the past or dwelling on the future. My dream is to be present in the now more often to savor life and be present for those who matter most in my life.
Q: What does a day at West Side look like for you?
My day at West Side looks a bit different this year. Bowen is 18 months and coming to school with me now! We arrive at school early so I can help with morning child care, when needed. I drop Bowen off and head to my classroom to prepare for the day. 

After washing my hands, I always turn on mediation music and feed our class fish ‘Rainbow Fish’. I straighten, prep and tidy the room for the 16 children in our Sycamore Room, 8 on each side. I try to make my last prep the outdoor space to get fresh air and determine the clothing needed for the class’ outdoor walk and exploration. Melissa and I try to meet briefly before children arrive. 

From 8:15-8:45, Melissa and I greet our Sycamore students. Once all arrive we go to circle to meet as a community and make any announcements. We follow the children—if they are full of energy, we will head outside. If they are interested in work in the classroom, we will start work time first and then go outside once children appear ready. 

At 10:50 we slowly invite friends to go to circle once again. We will sing songs, play games, read stories, or make silence depending on the group’s needs. Morning-only students prepare to go home and full-day students prepare for lunch. We then go outside again. 

Lunch is eaten in our classroom as a community. Outside time and nap follow lunch for younger students. Co-curriculars and writing lessons start for Kindergarteners/ non-nappers. We begin waking the nappers and tidying the room around 230. We come to circle once more and then prepare for going home/extended care. We end the day outside. Once I finish carline, I prepare anything unfinished for the following day and then head home to be with my family.

Q: What would you tell a prospective family about West Side?
  • Your child/children will be in the best care.
  • The school community is open and welcoming.
  • The classrooms provide movement, positivity, and opportunities for growth.
  • The teachers will work tirelessly for the children in their rooms. Right now a teacher is behind the scenes preparing work to meet your child’s specific needs/interests any way they can! Wow!
  • The Montessori Method is incredible, but add the loving, highly-trained teachers at West Side, and it's like a perfect combination for a child’s success.

Q: What continues to inspire you?
Imperfection. I always have something new to learn. From my mistakes come the best learning experiences. I am also inspired by other phenomenal Montessori teachers. The combined teaching experience from all the teachers at West Side alone is off the charts!
Q: Why did you choose to teach/work here?
This is a bittersweet story. In November 2017, I lost my first child, Calla, and needed to get out of the house to do something purposeful for a few hours a day, at least. My friend, Sarah Duvall, worked at West Side and told me numerous times I should work there, too. 

It so happens Little House was looking for a part-time assistant. I went on the school tour with Kathy and I was blown away by the content young children were working on in all the classes from Little House to Lower Elementary. The teachers were calm and organized. It was an incredible experience I will never forget! I did not want to leave. 

Then, a full-time Children’s House position was opening for the following school year. I applied and the rest is history. West Side feels like home and I owe West Side more than words for helping me feel “normal” again and allowing me to join this amazing community.
Q: What's the most important life lesson you'd like to share with your students? (How is this conveyed in your classroom?)
"Mistakes happen. How you handle the situation makes all the difference." If I make a mistake, I openly admit it to my students and then propose the challenge:  “How can I fix ……?” When I accidentally bump into someone else it provides a wonderful chance to model caring for another person “Are you okay? What can I get for you to feel better? That was an accident. I apologize! I need to walk slower and pay more attention!”  This is by no way perfect in our classroom but hearing children ask each other “Are you okay? What do you need?” makes me feel like the example Melissa and I set in our classroom is challenging the children to think of others and learn from mistakes.