For Dawn Tasher, there are few moments sweeter than watching a child understand a new concept. As the owner of Montessori Academy of Valparaiso, Tasher feels honored to see these moments in the young children that attend the school.
“I absolutely love watching those moments when the lightbulb goes on in a child’s head, and they understand something that they’ve been struggling with,” said Tasher. “You can just see it in their eyes. That’s the reward I get out it.”
Tasher’s introduction to the Montessori Method of education began when her own children were quite young. After enrolling them in a Montessori school, Tasher was impressed with the independence and confidence that her children fostered.
“They grew a love for learning and a curiosity of their own to learn more,” said Tasher of her children’s time spent at Montessori school.
Tasher integrated the principles of the Montessori Method into her children’s lives at home.
“It was amazing how independent they became,” said Tasher. “They wanted to dress themselves. They wanted to pour their own cereal and milk in the morning. It gave them such a sense of satisfaction and self-worth because they could do things on their own. They flourished from there.”
After 37 years as a surgical tech, Tasher made a bold choice and opened her own Montessori school in Merrillville in 2000. When the opportunity to purchase the Valparaiso Montessori Academy arose, Tasher could not resist the chance to share her love of Montessori with the Valparaiso community.
The Montessori Method differs from traditional education as it focuses on a child’s natural inquisition and addresses the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of the child. Children are encouraged to develop and exercise their own personal preferences, fostering each child’s individual talents and strengthening their intrinsic motivation for success.
Children attending the Valparaiso Montessori Academy are encouraged to connect with their community through service, beginning first with small communities, such as their classmates, to build a foundation of community that will serve them through their lives.
Montessori Academy of Valparaiso offers instruction in multi-age classrooms to three age ranges, toddler, preschool, and kindergarten. Tasher enjoys seeing how the children thrive not only while in the Montessori Academy but as they continue with their education afterward.
“The kids that continue on to public schools after leaving our Montessori school just do amazing things,” said Tasher. “They maintain the same love of learning. The parents are just thrilled at how much they learned and how prepared they are. They do very well in school and are very independent.”
With a firm belief in the power of Montessori education, Tasher strives to share the benefits of the Montessori Method with the Valparaiso community. She has found the parents to be receptive and to value their children’s education.
“The parents of Valpo are really concerned about their children’s education and want them to do well,” said Tasher. “The best start for their children is the Montessori curriculum.”
Tasher thanks her family and her children for their support on her journey. When faced with the challenge of returning to school while raising children and having to work, Tasher found strength in her family’s support.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Tasher.
Tasher has found the Valparaiso community to be the perfect spot for young families conscious of making good decisions for their kids.
“The community is very family-oriented,” said Tasher. “It’s just a really neat community. We have new families moving in all the time, and we tell them about the many opportunities for them to enjoy as a family.”
Through years of practicing the Montessori Method and being involved in the education of children, Tasher realized the importance of the active participation of parents in a child’s education. She encourages parents to become involved.
“No matter where you send your child to school and no matter how smart they are, they always need your support and backing,” said Tasher. “You really have to become a participant with them in their education. That support at home is huge.”