Featured Teacher: Martha Dolan

Photo Courtesy of Martha Dolan

At what school do you currently work?

I work at the Millhopper Montessori School. This will be eighth year at the school.

What grade/age do you teach?

I teach preschool and the students are 3–5 years old.

How long have you been a teacher?

I have been teaching 27 years.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite children’s book is, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. For pleasure, I most often read about gardening, and I love humorous books.

What subject do you teach?

I teach eight subject areas. Montessori materials allow students to explore and learn through touching and doing.

Practical Life

The Practical Life activities help students become responsible members of society. The activities help them learn and express a sense of order, independence, respect for the environment and respect for others. At the same time the activities help to refine their concentration and hand-eye coordination. I change the activities regularly so there are always new and exciting ways to refine the children’s fine motor skills and promote increased concentration skills.

Sensorial

This area allows children to explore through their senses. Each material isolates one quality, whether it be color, shape, texture, sound, size, taste, weight or smell.

Language Arts

The Language Arts materials teach and reinforce sounds, writing and reading.

Math

There is a variety of Math materials and activities to reinforce quantities and numerals.

Cultural Area

I teach lessons in botany, zoology and geography to help my Montessori preschool students explore and discover the world around them.

Reading Area and Book Shelf

I provide many books to reinforce the unit studies we do each month. I have a reading nook where students can have quiet time and do a nursery rhyme felt board or just enjoy the books. 

Science

Science is my favorite area to teach. I raise butterflies, and this year my students have had the pleasure of watching the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to releasing the fully formed butterflies.

Art

The students study famous artists during the year. This year they drew their own interpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Why were you inspired to teach?

I started teaching preschool when my own children started to school so that my hours of work would be compatible to their needs. I grew to love teaching and feel it was a gift given to me.

What advice would you give to parents of children starting in your class?

I would advise parents to be patient with their children’s growth. As they experiment with the materials and lessons, parents will see their children’s focus grow as they explore their favorite areas and develop their own potentials. Remember to say things like, “How did that make you feel?” rather than saying, “I am proud of you.” Expressing pride in your child is nice, but we want our children to feel good about themselves and their ability to learn, not focus on trying to please us as parents.

What is your favorite part of the school day?

My favorite part of my school day is morning work cycle when the students are focusing on their lessons with a love for learning.

How do you wind down from a long day of teaching?

My husband and I sit out at my butterfly garden and relax.

What do you like to do outside of the classroom?

One of my favorite activities to do with my family is to go camping in the mountains. I have had the pleasure of climbing the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia three times.

What has been your funniest interaction with a student?

There have been many and it is often when a child says “Ms. Martha that’s not correct,” and I respond with, “You are right and I like making mistakes because it helps me learn.” Then we all laugh!