Faculty Focus: Darlene Spangler

In recognition of their service to our school, long-time MMS teachers selected their favorite Maria Montessori quotes, which were translated into lovely works of art by an MMS parent and displayed throughout our main school.

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.

Darlene Spangler has played many important roles during her time at MMS,  including teacher, administrator, sixth year project leader and specialist.  She holds a B.A. in English from Duke University and is currently a learning specialist, providing specialized reading screening and instruction to elementary students.  Previously, Darlene spent 14 years as an assistant teacher in Upper Elementary (concurrently teaching English in our Middle School program for five years). She also served as our school’s assistant administrator for 13 years and interim co-director for three years. Originally from the eastern shore of Maryland, Darlene settled in her husband’s hometown of Charleston, where they raised two (now adult) children. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, reading, and traveling



Favorite Montessori quote and why?  

“What the hand does, the mind remembers.” Concrete materials make concepts real and more easily internalized.

“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work.  The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)


Describe Montessori in three words:

Peace, respect, responsibility



Highlights of your time at MMS?The 14 years I spent in the upper elementary classroom with Mary McKown were the highlight of my time at MMS. Mary was the best teacher I have encountered at any level. She inspired the students to do their best and instilled an incredible love of learning in each of them. She taught me everything I know about Montessori.


Number of years at MMS?

Finishing my twenty-third year.


Favorite Montessori Moment?  

Two come to mind:

When I was teaching Montessori Middle School English in the early 2000’s I took my class to see the play Hamlet.  In the middle of the play, a student turned to me, laid her hand on my knee and said, “Thank you for bringing me to see this.” I was responsible for a student’s first exposure to Shakespeare and I was as excited as she was about it!

We once had a parent volunteer teaching basic calculus lessons after school to any interested upper elementary students. One day I took a phone message from a parent saying their child could stay after school for the lessons. Upon delivering the message to the student, she squealed in excitement to her friends, “I get to stay after school and go to calculus!” I’ve told this story many times and concluded that only at Montessori does a student get excited about staying after school AND studying calculus!


What do you hope your students will take away from their time at MMS?

I hope my students leave MMS with a love for learning as great as mine!


Anything else?

I hope all students leave MMS with a respect for others and a sense of responsibility for their own education.