Ms Julie on ‘Educating for Life’

Ms. Julie's class 'morning meeting'.

Ms. Julie’s class ‘morning meeting’.

By Ms. Julie (Julie Cash) 

An important way we are educating for life at GW is seeing the daily conflicts that arise as opportunities for teaching and learning.  These issues provide many valuable “teachable moments” where we use real life situations in the classroom to model and reinforce positive problem solving and social skills.

An example of this recently took place in my E-1 classroom when a first grade boy came in one morning wearing a new pair of eyeglasses. I overheard a few remarks that I was sure made him feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and I decided to discuss it in a class meeting.

“How many of you have ever had a new haircut and felt nervous about walking into the classroom looking different, because you were afraid of what someone might say?” Since I had observed this happening I knew many of the children had experienced this. Hands shot up. “Do we want the kind of classroom where children feel nervous about what their classmates might say when they look a certain way? We need to think about what kind of classroom we want to have, and how we want everyone to feel in our classroom.” Continue reading Ms Julie on ‘Educating for Life’

GW Teacher Profile: Ms. Julie (Julie Cash)

Ms. Julie

Ms. Julie


We had the opportunity to visit the classroom of Julie Cash, an accomplished musician who performs with her group “Vocal Visionaries“and teacher of Elementary I (1/2/3) grade students at the GW Elementary School, a public Montessori program in Kingston, NY.  Our teachers put so much energy into the education and well-being of our children. It’s always an honor to spend time  in their classroom.

We asked Julie a few questions to share with our community.  Consider this the first of many teacher, student and parent interviews.



Now as a certified Montessori teacher, what has changed in the way that you approach teaching?

I am a graduate of Bank Street College of Education, the philosophy of which is based on the principles of progressive education (child-centered,developmentally appropriate, experiential) and the Montessori philosophy fits harmoniously with my background, beliefs and interests as a teacher. Along with this, my training in the Responsive Classroom approach fits beautifully with Montessori, and the idea that social and emotional learning must be integrated in academic learning, and children need explicit instruction in and experiences with social skills, being part of a culture of caring and respect, and living in community in the classroom and school. What has changed since I was in a traditional classroom is that I feel I can really be true to my beliefs about what is best for children. I feel very much at home at GW, where the values are so in sync with what endeavor to do as a classroom “guide” (Montessori term for teacher).  It is a place where my skills and interests can flourish and I love being part of a community of educators who share a common philosophy and commitment to children. It’s extremely gratifying and powerful. I am no longer swimming against the stream! We are all going in the same direction and support each other. I have never taught in a school that has such strong morale, support, and cohesion between the faculty. This is due in large part to the extraordinary leadership of Valerie Hannum.

Continue reading GW Teacher Profile: Ms. Julie (Julie Cash)