Teaching 3 Generations
Elaine Anderson, now at St. Joe’s Montessori, has no plans to retire soon
"I'm on my third generation," said Elaine Anderson, explaining that she is now teaching not only the children of former students but also the grandchildren.
"It is just truly amazing to me to see things come full circle," Elaine said. "I don't plan on retiring yet."
Elaine has been teaching for about 40 years. In 1979, she opened The Montessori Schoolhouse, the first Montessori school in Cottonwood.
She graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1968 with a bachelor's in education. She received her Montessori teacher certification in 1977 from Mary Grove Catholic College in Detroit, and she worked as a Montessori intern until she became a Montessori teacher in Michigan.
After graduating from Michigan State University in 1979 with a master's in education, she opened her own school in Cottonwood.
"I did that until 2000," she said. Then she went to Accelerated Learning Charter School for four years. In 2005, Elaine started teaching kindergarten through fourth grade in the one-room St. Joseph's Catholic Montessori in Cottonwood.
Between 1979 and 2005, Elaine stayed busy with more than teaching. She picked up certifications in Korean finger calculation, Catechist and advanced studies in Montessori. She also graduated from Prescott College with another bachelor's, this time in early childhood education.
Now she sticks with teaching the kids in pre-school and kindergarten, and she loves it. She once taught some English literature students at the University of Illinois. She was shocked to learn that many of them didn't read all that well, or understand all that much of what they'd read.
"I decided that pre-school and kindergarten is where it happens," Elaine said. "You're nurturing the natural desire to know more."
Elaine agrees that 40 years is a long time to teach. "But it renews itself every day," she said. "That is the joy in it."
Even with the youngsters, Elaine integrates math, science, geography, history and art into the classroom. "I teach them French, also," she said. "French is our second language in the classroom."
She said the little kids pick up language quickly. "And they thoroughly enjoy it. They don't freak out, and they remember everything."
Art is also an important part of Elaine's classroom activities. "I surround them with paintings of the masters," she said.
Elaine has 25 students in pre-school and kindergarten. Although the school will not increase the total number of students in those age groups, next year St. Joseph's will offer a traditional kindergarten class in addition to the Montessori class.
St. Joseph's is, of course, a Catholic school, and Elaine never forgets that. It is, after all, an important part of the kids' education as far as she is concerned.
"We find our Lord in every single lesson we do," she said. "I make sure the children are able to see Him in their lives."