Reflections on Earth Day: A Message from Maura Joyce

Reflections on Earth Day: A Message from Maura Joyce
Maura Joyce, Head of School

April brings Earth Day—a time for the whole global community to reflect on our care for the planet and what we can do to maintain the delicate balance needed to sustain all life on the planet, including our own. Earth Day is a one-day event for many, but in Montessori, we make a concerted effort to maintain a constant awareness of our relationship with nature and the earth, each and every day. Even though Post Oak is an urban school, land-locked at both campuses, the children and teenagers we serve truly enjoy our beautiful surroundings and know that their efforts are imperative to keep the environment thriving.

Gardens have been active on campus all year, but spring brings a flurry of visible activity and lots of small hands in the dirt. The YCC classes have had their little hands in the dirt in their campus courtyard as they added new flowers at the base of the trees. Primary patios are bursting with herbs, flowers, and a few carrot tops. Elementary classes have been out at their garden boxes on the far end of the field and the Elementary after-care students planted flowers and tomato plants in their newly acquired portable garden box. 

At this time of the year, I am always inspired by the words of Phyllis Pottish-Lewis, an Elementary Trainer with Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). In her article entitled, The Child in Nature: Montessori’s Answer to the Ecological Crisis, she talks about how Montessori was focused on the future of our planet, even 100 years ago.

It was Dr. Montessori’s hope that … awareness would engender within the child a sense of gratitude. Humans were given a bounteous world in which to make their living, and from their industry they left us a heritage for which we all must be grateful. Our burdens have been reduced because of the efforts of others, many of whom are anonymous or unknown, but who have contributed to the welfare of humankind. We must never forget how fortunate we are to live on this Earth and what we have received; thus, we must care for our world. When such gratitude is instilled in an individual it can be a force that will help in the salvation of our planet so that subsequent generations will have similar opportunities to receive and, in their turn, show gratitude for what was left to them.

I love how Dr. Montessori saw that a focus on gratitude would initiate care for the planet. There were many Montessori lessons I learned when I was training to become a teacher, that had a story that highlighted our interconnectedness with nature. Those of you who have been to the Intro to Elementary meeting for parents have seen me share the chart and story about the function of the leaf. This description of photosynthesis simplifies the concept by talking about how leaves make food for the rest of the plant and how they give off oxygen for all others to enjoy. This chart touches something deep in the child, and they begin to be defenders of the leaves out on the playground and look at each plant with a new sense of awe and respect.

There is plenty to do in Houston this weekend to celebrate Earth Day which officially falls on Monday, April 22. Get out there, get active, and say “thank you” to the planet.

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Elementary students are working on their new portable garden box.

Middle School students picked vegetables from their garden.

High School students created a garden-bot for their April-term project.

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