Faculty Focus: Jennifer Carriger
As part of our Montessori Education Week activities, MMS is spotlighting some of the experienced and dedicated staff members who have built our tradition of excellence and innovation in education over the past 43 years. We are proud to highlight their contributions to our school over the years and their hopes for today’s students.
Jennifer Carriger, now in her tenth year at MMS, brings extensive experience as a teacher in public and independent school settings, educational leadership and non-profit management to her position as our school director.
Jennifer received a B.A. in international studies, a B.S. in secondary education and a M.S. in special education from West Virginia University and has pursued additional graduate studies in education at Marshall University and the University of Virginia. She holds permanent WV certification endorsement for students ages 5-12 in social studies, learning disabilities, mental impairment and behavior disorders.
Jennifer is the only educator in West Virginia to be certified as an AMS Montessori Administrator. She was awarded this credential after completion of a two-year program at the Center for Montessori Education in New York. Jennnifer received additional Montessori training through the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies and completed NAMTA Montessori Whole School Management (Level I) training.
In June 2018, Jennifer was selected for the prestigious WVU Consortium for Faculty and Course Development in International Studies program in Mexico.
In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Jennifer leads our Student Support Team as our learning consultant.Jennifer co-founded the Appalachian Reading Center in 2004 and is certified in the Wilson Reading System with additional training in Handwriting Without Tears. Jennifer is also a past president of the West Virginia Learning Disabilities Association. She taught in the public school system for nine years at the elementary, middle and high school levels in Madison County, Va., and Boone County, W.Va. In 2014, Jennifer was honored as West Virginia Teacher of the Year by the WVLDA. She and her husband, David, are the parents of two Mountaineer Montessori alumni.
Favorite Montessori quote and why?
“One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
Throughout my day, I have the chance to observe children and adults working in harmony together throughout the school. I see the students run into the building, eager to start the day – sometimes returning to work from the previous day, sometimes ready to share a new discovery or idea, always entering the classroom ready to absorb new experiences and lessons. These children are happy. They embody a love of learning and are thrilled to share their knowledge and questions with others. This is true of the youngest student of three years old and the oldest of fourteen years – and is true of the MMS staff as well.
Describe Montessori in three words:
Joy, connection, respect
Highlights of your time at MMS?
This is my tenth year at MMS. My first six years were spent as the school’s reading and learning specialist. During that time, I worked with individual students and small groups to provide additional lessons in reading, spelling, handwriting and math. From the start, I immediately appreciated the non-competitive nature of Montessori and MMS, and noticed that children who struggle in some academic areas were able to shine in others, and that at a Montessori school, the child is respected as a whole person. A highlight of my time in the specialist role is having the opportunity to learn more about Montessori philosophy so I could weave my work into the bigger picture of the school’s mission.
Another highlight of my time at MMS is having the opportunity to watch my own children learn and grow in a Montessori environment. I especially appreciate their having had leadership opportunities, time to explore interests, a wide variety of field trips/field experiences, and the chance to practice kindness.
As an administrator, highlights include meeting and getting to know our wonderful families (car line is one of my favorite parts of the day), working with our incredible staff, having the chance to ‘spread the word’ about Montessori through tours and special events, learning from mentors from all over the country through my AMS Administrator certification program at Center for Montessori Education/New York, and of course, being serenaded by our elementary students on my birthday/Race for Education this year!
Favorite Montessori moment?
My favorite Montessori Moments are the little bits of conversation I overhear during my movement through the school – children helping and encouraging each other, adults providing guidance toward independence, children asking for and seeking more knowledge. I am also thrilled and honored when children share their excitement with me, such as when a lower elementary student burst out of the classroom recently to tell me he had JUST CONSTRUCTED A COMPLETE CIRCUIT!
What do you hope your students will take away from their time at MMS?
I hope our students maintain their love of learning throughout their lives, and that they keep asking questions and seeking to understand. My wish is that they take the Montessori peace philosophy of kindness and respect wherever they go in the years ahead.