Staff Spotlight: Natalie Fisher

Natalie Fisher is a Lower Elementary teacher in the Goldfinch classroom and has been teaching at West Side for 27 years.
Can you tell me about yourself? 
I have two children whom both have attended West Side beginning in the Little House. My son is currently in the Middle School program. My daughter is a 2017 WSM graduate. This is my 27th year at West Side. I have taught in the Lower Elementary program for 22 of those years. I have a Bachelors of Elementary Education, a Masters of Education, and my American Montessori Society 6-9 Certification. My favorite thing to do is travel with my family.

What is my favorite Montessori quote?
“We are here to offer to this life, which came into the world by itself, the means necessary for development and, having done that, we must await this development with respect.” — Dr. Maria Montessori

What do you love about Montessori?
I love everything about Montessori so this is a challenging question. The Montessori curriculum so comprehensive. Montessori teachers are trained to support the development of the whole child from his or her emotional, social, physical, and academic needs. The culture curriculum (science, history, geography, health, botany) is so engaging and unique that it ignites a fire that encourages children to wonder and want to explore more about our world.

Natalie working with students
What is your favorite area in the classroom?
The Montessori math materials take the children from concrete to abstract thinking throughout their lower elementary years. The lower elementary math materials are attractive, hands-on, and focus on the process vs. product. Using the Montessori math materials the students learn to understand math concepts instead of memorizing an algorithm that has been taught to them. Math makes so much more sense if you have the Montessori materials! 

What would you tell a prospective family about West Side? 
The Montessori approach works! Trust it and support it for the best results for your child(ren). 

Do you have a favorite book?
I enjoy reading early American history and historical fiction books. 
What first appealed to you about Montessori? 
I grew up attending public schools and watching my mother teach in public schools for years. Montessori was a breath of fresh air. I was attracted to the three-year age span, two teachers in a classroom, enticing lessons, the teaching of peace education, and the focus on educating the whole child. 
What advice do you have for the families of Montessori students?
First, trust the Montessori Method. Second, allow your child(ren) the journey of a Montessori education through our Middle School program. Montessori education is a developmentally sequenced program. Each new program follows the growing needs of the child and then strives to further his or her development. 

The final piece, the Middle School, allows the child to bring together all of their academic, emotional, social, physical, and work skills that he or she has been developing through the years. In the culminating year of the Middle School, the teenager refines these skills and gets an opportunity to put them into real life experiences like volunteering in the local community and organizing school events like the Fall Into Literature Festival. Our graduates are confident communicators, self-motivated learners, and compassionate leaders.

What advice do you have for new parents trying to incorporate Montessori at home? 
Follow and respect the needs’ of your child. Each child is unique. Try not to compare your child to others. Trust your child’s developmental growth without pushing your child when she/he is not ready. 
What continues to inspire you about Montessori?
Each day I am continually amazed at how well the Montessori Method meets the developmental needs of the children. The impressionistic lessons, engaging materials, the freedom to choose work of interest, and the core values embracing respect for others and the world are an inspiration to me each day.
Why did you choose to teach here?
The Montessori Method fits with my beliefs as an educator. Being surrounded by a community of educators and families with the same goals for children was a win-win for me. 
What motivated you to go into teaching at a school?
My mother was a first-grade teacher for 37 years. I grew up visiting her classroom and meeting her students for years. Teaching children was a comfortable, natural fit for me. I continue to love teaching to this day!
How did a student inspire/motivate you?
I am inspired by the work of the children each day. When I hear stories of previous students of mine who have moved onto successful careers making a positive impact on the world it motivates me to continue to teach in a Montessori setting.