“I see the future every day—they’re walking all around me,” says veteran LE Directress Donna Boyd. Momentarily overcome with excitement, she adds, “And now look what we have—a high school!” We agree—more time for students to absorb the life-changing education at MSR. Deeply insightful, remarkably skilled, Donna believes in the power of this school because she is a veteran architect of this transformative learning environment.
We want to know when Donna first realized she wanted to teach. “When I was a senior in high school,” she responds. She was bored in Civics class as a teen in a new school and told the principal she wanted to teach herself. The administrator saw Donna’s precociousness and not only allowed her to become her own instructor, reporting to him once a week, but also asked if she would like to teach music to five-year-old children at the school. “I previously had been in a very good high school with a good music program” she explains. She had even been a student choral director, so with confidence Donna embarked on her teaching career.
We often say teachers are called to this most noble profession, and one would not question that calling with this seasoned educator. Pure joy in children and their learning bursts forth when Donna describes that one moment “when a child grabs the idea…or grasps the skill…it is exhilarating!” And in that moment, she says, “I look at the child and say, ‘You’ve got it! This is yours forever—I didn’t do this—you did!’”
Donna’s purpose in her classroom is to “facilitate group energy.” The gist is that she has a room full of unique children, each learning individually (“self constructing” in Montessori language), but, as she points out, “they don’t do this work in a vacuum.” In other words, children learn in relationship to others, and Donna is there to guide the collaborative process. She explains, “Collaboration is hard because each child is unique…I’m not called a directress for no reason.”
It is actually the Golden Rule that guides learning behaviors in Donna’s class. “It’s a maxim found in many cultures around the world,” she explains, “and we use it to develop an awareness of others.” When there is a misunderstanding, “we move to the peace table—to give our brains a break and to practice “I” messages.” The result? A classroom where Donna says she is “stunned at what children are processing.” There are moments, she says, “when their engagement with each other is so rich in meaning, I will not interrupt them.”
What children are learning now in Donna’s class will serve them well throughout their lives because as she points out, “As adults, we are all living in prepared environments.” We all must figure out along the way how to learn and grow wherever we are. How would the world be different if adult interaction—in families, the workplace, anywhere people gather in community—were “so rich” no one would want to interrupt or stop the flow of our work together? What a thought! What if we all had acquired the skills Donna is guiding her young charges to learn? Could we all be more optimistic? Could the world be a more hopeful place?
We are reminded of what Donna said when we began our conversation: “The future is these children.” Now she adds, “It is exciting to be part of something that will go on and on…this school is the living hope.”
And this is why Donna gives to the Annual Fund at a leadership level. Thank you, Donna, for supporting MSR for All the Right Reasons.