Local Educator Provides Public Service with a Side of Montessori0
Few things are more important than a strong education - especially at an early age. More than just teaching subjects like writing and mathematics, proper schooling can aid the development of key life skills such as critical thinking and social interaction. At The Montessori School, Head of School Ann Pilzner ensures that students have access to resources that will allow them to progress in these areas.
“I see Montessori as a public service because we are helping to create good people that will do good things in this world,” said Pilzner. “We are growing them academically, but they have the tools to do good later in life.”
Curriculum at The Montessori School’s Kalamazoo and Richland campuses encourage a hands-on learning process that allows students to grow at their own pace. This approach enables children to cultivate a sense of independence and self-reliance, while developing social and cognitive skills.
Growing up in metro Detroit, Pilzner came to Kalamazoo to take up a position as The Montessori School’s Head of School. Prior to her current role in Kalamazoo, Pilzner worked as Head of School at Battle Creek Montessori Academy.
When asked what she loved most about her job, Pilzner replied, “Working with children. Being Head of School lets me work with more kids. I was a teacher before doing this job. I got to know 20-30 kids on a personal basis, but getting to know a whole student body is so fulfilling.”
The staff at The Montessori School is also a bonus.
“The staff is hardworking and knowledgeable. We are all on the same page, delivering a great outcome to the students and parents we work with,” she said.
A resident of the Winchell neighborhood, Pilzner enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon, and their three children. Some of her favorite activities include biking and going on walks. “The abundance of resources for families as well as strong community values make Kalamazoo an appealing place to live,” she said.
“I really like Kalamazoo from a family standpoint. There is so much to do, camps in the summer, the library (Kalamazoo Public Library),” said Pilzner.
“Kalamazoo has values, diversity, and fights for what’s right. The community holds us to a higher standard of doing the right thing through volunteerism and charitable organization. There’s less of a keeping up with the Jones mentality, just do good, and help your neighbor,” she added.
On an organizational level, Pilzner and The Montessori School are exploring new opportunities and ways to enhance its educational offerings.
The Richland campus kicked off its new bilingual program to all preschoolers and kindergarteners this fall. Students benefit from receiving every lesson in both English and Spanish.
At the school’s Kalamazoo campus, a new sixth-year program is also in its first year.
To allow for the increased student population and programming, renovations to a building adjacent to the current Kalamazoo campus will begin in December 2018. The renovated facility is expected to open in the fall of 2019 and will allow for 30 additional preschool openings by the 2020-2021 school year.
Regardless of building size or which language learning occurs in, Pilzner understands the importance helping students build a strong foundation for their future. She said she will be forever proud that she can be a part of that process.
“Developing kind humans, that is a beautiful place to be”, she said. “If a child makes a mistake instead of giving that child a label we view it as a learning opportunity. We see each mistake as an opportunity to learn. I feel very blessed to be in an organization where we are creating better people.”