Educators from around the country continue to come together to share big dreams of creating tiny schools with their communities. During the June gathering for Teacher Leader Stories, educators Jill Evans of Goldenrod Montessori (Cleveland, OH) and Eric Oglesbee of River Montessori High School (South Bend, IN) shared their unique entrepreneurial advice for emerging Teacher Leaders.
Eric Oglesbee is one of the founders of River Montessori High School, a first-of-its-kind replicable, mixed-income, Montessori high school. He discovered Montessori as a parent and left his career as a college professor to become an advocate for the expansion of Montessori and the creation of the small-scale Montessori high school.
Jill Evans, founding Teacher Leader of Goldenrod Montessori, never dreamed she would open a school. Still, her path as a business administrator turned educator led her to discover the beauty of the Montessori method, and–after learning about Wildflower–she said it was like a light bulb went off. She decided then and there to start the School Startup Journey, eventually launching Goldenrod in the heart of Cleveland’s Shaker Heights neighborhood.
Jill and Eric offered their unique entrepreneurial advice to emerging Teacher Leaders. Jill described how they invested in community outreach from the outset:
“We are involved in community events in our neighborhood. That’s how we got the word out about our school. We went to every community event we could think of and were visible in our neighborhood. Before we opened the school, I would open the door and let people come in, greet them, and let them know what we were doing.”
Eric advised emerging Teacher Leaders to operate with a sense of urgency without rushing: “Rushing to get the doors open if you haven’t created a good foundation will lead to all kinds of cracks that will be ten times harder to solve when you have kids in the building and families you’re serving because reputation only gets built once.”