Thank You to EC Montessori’s Family of Teachers

A Surprise Profile of Carolyn Leslie, Olive McMahon and Shannon Duffy

By Wendy Pollitzer

Featured in The Island News

November 18, 2010
I’ve been profiling community members for almost 11 months now. A typical profile involves an interview, a few photo opportunities and an email conversation to make sure everything is correct.

I haven’t done a surprise profile…until now.

This profile is a gesture of thanks to the three teachers who have guided my daughters, Abbie (7) and Julia (6), through their academic life at E.C. Montessori School.  Carolyn Leslie, Olive McMahon and Shannon Duffy have taken my children to a level of learning I never anticipated, and I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you (and your wonderful assistants, Brooke Gadley, Sherill Francis, Stacy Gartner and Laura Lopresto) for instilling everyday values, teaching life skills and creating a love of learning my daughters will keep for eternity.

Carolyn Leslie

Each of the girls had Carolyn Leslie from the ages of 18 months through 3 years. A soft-spoken woman, Carolyn gets on the toddlers’ level and addresses each range of human development-intellectual, social, physical and spiritual-in the most calming manner you’ve ever witnessed. She does so in a way that allows the children to capitalize on their innate love of learning, and she helps them develop the initial confidence necessary to continually discover the joy of learning.

In Carolyn’s class, Abbie and Julia learned language development, practical living and social development skills. In addition they enjoyed creative movement, music, art and enrichment. She taught each of my girls how to appreciate individual learning and the importance of community. They were now prepared for Primary.

Olive McMahon

Olive McMahon taught Abbie and Julia from 3 years to 6 years, when their learning stage is based on sensory, concrete and experiential development. Julia is still in Olive’s class, taking on the current demands of Kindergarten.  And she loves it! It amazes me how Kindergarten improves a child’s confidence. One week, they’re sounding out letters, and the next week, they’re reading chapter books. Literally, in 11 weeks, Julia has surprised the family with her love of reading. And we owe it all to Olive, who works with each child in that Primary classroom at their level and encourages, never discourages their daily performance. Olive is gifted at teaching the children how to respect themselves and each other, because her genuine respect for the children is remarkably evident.

Shannon Duffy

Abbie is currently in Shannon Duffy’s Lower Elementary class for 6 to 9 year olds. All I can say is… thank goodness for Carolyn and Olive who prepared Abbie for such a challenge. Shannon’s class is extraordinary. They are learning everything from Botany to Greek Mythology. Abbie’s favorite thing to do in Shannon’s class is creative writing, and she’s good! Shannon encourages the students’ to develop their strengths and at the same time, pays careful attention to their weaknesses. In Abbie’s case, it’s math. Shannon spoke to me about how we can improve Abbie’s desire to learn math; and sure enough, Abbie has come home every day asking me to quiz her on multiplication and division. Shannon is a phenomenal instructor who takes the time to individualize lessons based on each child’s development stage; and she does it so effortlessly.

So far in my young daughters’ lives, I’ve been blessed with three of the most amazing teachers in Beaufort.  I can’t even imagine what the future holds for them, thanks to your patience, your instruction and your guidance. And I’m ever so thankful knowing that my children go to school everyday knowing a little bit more than they did the day before and eager to learn the unknown.

You three are unsung heroes, as are all of our teachers in Beaufort. This Thanksgiving, we should all say a little extra thanks around the table for those who take our children under their wings 180 days of the year. You are true champions, and we appreciate you…all of you.

About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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"I love Wendy Pollitzer’s writing. Her instincts are remarkable, her nose for truth infallible. I can’t pick up a journal or magazine that she’s written for without going straight to the table of contents in search of her piece. What I think is so interesting about her work is that she really believes in what she’s doing, in getting it right. She’s very, very good. "— Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, South of Broad) 1945-2016