Free the Child's Potential

by Becky Bereswill
Post Oak Eighth Grade Class of 2005


Introduction by John Long, Head of School

Becky Bereswill (and her twin sister Allison) graduated from Post Oak in the class of 2005 and last spring graduated summa cum laude from EHS. She has deferred her enrollment at Rice University for one year in order to focus exclusively on ice skating as a full-time athlete. Skating six days a week before school was enough to earn her gold and silver medals at International Skating Union Jr. Grand Prix events in Seoul, Korea; Courchevel, France; and Madrid, Spain. (It is a good thing that she was a passionate map-maker as a Primary student). But in the rarified world of Olympic skating, more
is demanded.

But even if she were not a world-class skater, we would have invited Becky to speak to you because she is a world-class person. You are probably thinking about now that we have invited the two mostamazing graduates Post Oak has ever produced to speak to you. You’ll see for yourself…they are both amazing people. And about now, they’re in danger of losing that modesty I so admire in Montessori grads, so let me tell you that we called both of our alums who are college students living in Houston…and they both accepted our invitation to speak. That’s another characteristic I love about Montessori kids…they're willing to pitch in.

I am honored to present Becky Bereswill.

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak tonight. It is an honor to stand before you to share and reflect on a powerful form of education and development that has strongly influenced my life. As I reflect on it, I believe the two greatest gifts that I have taken away from my Montessori education at The Post Oak School are self-empowerment and community.

I attended The Post Oak School from the age of two in Infant Community, for 12 years, until graduation with the class of 2005. Following Post Oak, I attended Episcopal High School, where I graduated summa cum laude last May. I plan to attend Rice University in the fall of 2010 to study economics and international studies to pursue an interest in international business. I am also a competitive figure skater and U.S. team member. Currently, I am deferring one year to Rice to focus on my figure skating training. This year being very demanding, with heavy training, international competitions starting with Finland and Japan over the next few weeks, and the Olympic trials in January, my school counselors and I decided it would be best to take one year to devote to skating before starting at Rice.

From a young age, I knew Montessori education was a unique opportunity and a special gift. From tracing sandpaper cursive letters to constructing three-dimensional mathematics binomials, I knew the hands-on approach, and self-experimental method was for me. I quickly began to realize, that the more I learned, and the harder I worked, the more there was for me to learn.

I believe this realization is one of the key gifts of Montessori. With the guidance and instruction from teachers, self-empowered Montessori students are given the opportunity to push themselves beyond their expected potential, without the restrictions of a state planned syllabus.

Another gift is community. I believe the strong, supportive, and close-knit community that The Post Oak School has, gave me a strong foundation for self-confidence. The encouragement I received and the focus on an empirical learning system, always encouraged me to try new things and put my self out there. A subject that I have been questioned a lot about is competition. At Post Oak, the students are not ranked against each other, and there is not a strong competitive emphasis with sports. I always felt encouraged to be my best: I was competing against myself.

But when I graduated in May of 2005, I took a few small steps into the real world and everything changed. I knew it was coming; entering a world where competition is everything. Since eighth-grade graduation, I have competed for a top spot in my high school class, for a coveted college admission with thousands of other applicants, and have competed on the world stage against other nations' best athletes. When these challenges and opportunities began to involve me, I was not shocked or discouraged. I was ready. I had been preparing for them all my life and knew they were there. With the gift of nurturing and encouragement from Post Oak and my parents, these challenges were new and I couldn't wait to be a part of them. So finally, in the words of Maria Montessori, "Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world."

Thank you!