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Alumni Spotlight: William Treadway

By Shannon Neufeld, Communications Coordinator
From the May 13, 2011 edition of The Weekly Post

William Treadway standing next to the Post Oak 9/11 monument

What happens at Post Oak doesn't stay at Post Oak—William Treadway left Post Oak after grade one when he moved with his family to Sugar Land and attended another Montessori school there. The lessons he learned here have traveled with him all the way to Afghanistan.

Treadway is a United States Army first lieutenant serving in Kandahar Province with the armored cavalry. After attending The Kinkaid School for high school, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2009.

 

Treadway attributes his military success to West Point—and to his Post Oak experience. "I came out of school and they gave me a platoon to run," he said. "School can only do so much to prepare you for that. I remember being in this [Montessori] environment and if I needed to learn long division, I sought out a teacher and she would produce a training aid. I can do that in my job now—I can seek out someone who knows how to do things and they'll draw a training aid and teach me how to do it."

Common themes in the life of a Post Oak student: leadership and service. These both inspired Treadway to serve his country. "There are many different elements to it," he said. "There's a service element: as an American citizen, I want to have a stake in where this country's going. Not that I feel everyone should serve, but I just personally felt that in order to be a part of this country, I wanted to serve the country. I wanted to become an officer because I wanted to lead soldiers—take America's best into a tough situation and get them out of it… I've been well trained by everyone from Miss Hacker all the way through now—it's all been leading up to it."

William Treadway with an Afghani pe

"Really, the Montessori experience makes me a better military leader." He says his Montessori years also helped him juggle life at West Point including academics, athletics, and the military aspects of his education. Montessori education taught him how to manage his time, take responsibility for his tasks, and seek help from others when there's something he doesn't know. Treadway still vividly remembers Montessori materials such as the Stamp Game. "Learning addition, subtraction, the box with the colored squares—the colors indicated magnitude—and you could easily get to multiplication and division." He also remembers his teachers, and says, "teachers in the Post Oak environment actually taught… as opposed to having knowledge dumped at me from a fire hose where effectively someone's playing a recording… Miss Hacker would sit down and show you how to do something."

Montessori education is known more for its focus on peace-making rather than as a cradle for soldiers, so Head of School John Long asked Treadway to connect the dots between Post Oak, West Point, and Afghanistan. "Leadership and service," was his response, emphasizing that Montessori promotes both characteristics. "Leadership and service," he repeated.

He also acknowledged how influential September 11, 2001 was in his life. He was a ninth grader at the time, in fact, he was riding a bus to Enchanted Rock on a class outing. Like many in his gereration, the events of that day inspired him to military service.

Long told Treadway about events here at Post Oak. On September 12, 2001, faculty gathered around the flag pole with Upper Elementary and Middle School students and invited them to respond to the act of destruction with an act of construction: "in a way that speaks to our hearts and that we will remember." Each student was given a brick on which to paint a message, and three days later returned as a group to build the small monument that stands at the base of the flag pole in front of the school to this day.

Treadway responded, "That's incredibly powerful—that's an excellent response. Where we're going, there will be destruction, but there will also be building up. The more building I do, the less destruction I have to do…. We'll be looking for the bad guys and at the same time trying to help the good guys," he said. "The way we'll win the war in Afghanistan is by winning the people."