Sara Suzie Kim
Founder, Kindervalley Montessori Academy
A long time ago, someone asked me why I was opening up a Montessori Academy rather than a Daycare Center if I liked children so much. My answer was simple: To encourage, and not to suppress.
After completing my Bachelor of Education in 1991 in South Korea, my passion was to teach and guide children to thrive and to understand the world around them. Throughout the years, I was very happy to work with children at different daycare facilities in Calgary, but I felt that Calgary lacked the educational approach that would encourage a child’s natural curiosity for experimentation and independence. I felt that the daycare facilities lacked the philosophy in which the teacher, child and the environment all worked in unison to foster leadership, self-confidence and allow children to be creative problem solvers.
Since 2006, I was curious as to what intrinsic motivations drew particular children to particular toys, and what kind of guidelines children need in order to grow as thinkers and as leaders. What kind of roles did the teacher play to guide the children efficiently and proactively?
Throughout my continuous studies in Montessori Education, (MACTE Accredited Primary Degree; Childcare Management Diploma), I have learned that young children always want to discover the world surrounding them. Young children want to see, touch and smell in order to develop their self-schema, and I noticed that many of the children in the aforementioned daycare centers were unengaged and bored. They did not have enough educational materials nor the curriculum to keep them busy. I had to blame myself as a teacher who did not understand their motivations, but at the same time, it lit a fire in me to be the solution and to start my own academy.
My first Montessori school was in 2012-2013 in SW Calgary which had 18 children and 5 staffs. Through these years, although it was experimental, I studied Montessori Education while concurrently inventing my own teaching philosophy. I developed a strong confidence in myself getting feedback from the parents in how their children were responding at home due to the lessons we covered in the school. The parents were fascinated at how their children’s behavior was more independent, respectful and self-confident!
The practical and tangible behavioral results drove me to undertake the biggest project of my life: Kindervalley Montessori Academy. In order to do this, I underwent further schooling at the age of 45 to become a professional Montessori Educator with a primary teacher’s diploma after my Bachelor of Education in 1991.
My philosophy is “Let the children do it by themselves. Let them experience to allow them to understand.” I founded Kindervalley Montessori Academy because it is not merely a full-day program daycare center or a traditional school. It is a place to fulfill children’s needs through experimentation and an environment to thrive. To allow children to be “little scientists” in their natural curiosity and the freedom to be themselves.