Ms. King and Ms. Canzoneri-Golden are pioneers in the field of teacher-led educational reform, providing a refreshing alternative to top-down, expert-led initiatives that dominate urban education today.  The first teachers in the state of Florida to initiate and found a charter school, they embody the original intention and spirit of the charter school movement.[1]  As educators, innovators, and leaders, between these two dynamic women, they have over eighty years of experience — Ms. King with 49 years, and Ms. Golden with 33 years.

These seven and one half decades of combined wisdom has served Coral Reef Montessori Academy well, as evidenced by its growth and the overwhelming number of families committed to the school’s culture and philosophy. It is not uncommon to find a CRMA family who has sent two, three, four, or more siblings to the school!  Even though the school has evolved substantially, Ms. Golden and Ms. King have remained strong advocates in protecting the individuality and dignity of the child; their constant quest to create optimal learning communities where all students can thrive is both admirable and uncommon.

When Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School opened its doors in 1998 (along with four other charter schools), there were only two charter schools in existence in Miami; of those original seven, only four remain as viable entities, with the other three closing their doors.  As the first two teachers in the State of Florida to found and sustain a charter school, they have consistently and successfully navigated one hurdle after another to nurture their vision.  Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School presents an alternative, yet sustainable learning structure whose culture values curiosity and mastery, compassion and tolerance, awareness and activism, individuality and interdependence.  Early in the charter school movement in MDCPS, both Juliet and Lucy actively participated in troubleshooting conflicts, providing valuable precedents and examples to help guide the over 100 charter schools that have now sprouted up all over South Florida.

In 1995-96, Ms. Golden and Ms. King were both teachers at Pine Villa Elementary, which hosted three separate programs under the same roof—a Title I Montessori Program, a Magnet Montessori Program, and a traditional school program.  Because of these three separate programs, it was very difficult to create a cohesive school environment.  Rather than cooperation and shared values, there was competition and a lack of understanding.  Adding to this division was a tremendous turnover in leadership; they witnessed five different principals take the helm of the school in just seven years.  Some administrative leaders— such as Dr. Willie Wright, Dr. John Pittman, Dr. Clarence Jones—believed strongly in the Montessori philosophy and embraced its implementation Others showed apathy or indifference.

This was a clarion call for Ms. King and Ms. Golden—they realized that the Montessori program was only as strong as the support it received from the principal.  Even more upsetting was the reality that only a fraction of students in this school could benefit from Montessori approaches. While they saw their students blossom, they also witnessed the students in the traditional program look with wide eyes at the colorful materials and manipulatives that lined the shelves, wondering what they were used for and why they had only textbooks and workbooks.  This discrepancy began to anger and upset Lucy and Juliet—and they decided that they wanted to create a school where all children, regardless of their background, should be able to reap the enormous benefits of a Montessori Education.

As teachers, Ms. King and Ms. Canzoneri-Golden shared a passion and respect for the intrinsic value of Montessori teaching and learning; so much so, that when the opportunity presented itself, they both decided to pursue further training at Barry University’s notable Masters Program in Montessori Education.  Barry’s graduate program involved many group projects designed to foster interdependence, much like students working together in a Montessori classroom.  As carpool buddies, time spent commuting back and forth from the University (and to the Northwest side of Miami to teach in a summer Montessori program) became fertile ground for the discovery of a dream.  Together, they decided to respond to a statewide announcement for teachers interested in starting their own charter school.  Their dream was sparked by seeing the scarcity of truly responsive educational settings; united by a strong belief that there is brilliance and genius inside every child, they encouraged each other and remained steadfast during the planning and application process.

It was initially a rocky road to establishing the school in the early days. One of the biggest hurdles they faced was to secure a location suitable for classrooms.  Working with the faith-based community, they found a reliable partnership with Solid Rock Missionary Baptist church and an ally in Reverend Rufus Troop.  Working up until midnight the night before the school doors first opened, Ms. King and Ms. Golden both believed that the creation and establishment of Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School was a part of their mission.  The founding Board of Directors—composed of Col. Eddie J. Alford, Cuqui Manuela Aponte, Kim Cobaugh, Ray Fauntroy, Rev. John A. Ferguson, Karen Fraser, Asha Jattan, Lucy Canzoneri-Golden, Victor Golden, Elsie King Hamler, Juliet King, Miriam Lawson, Esq., Dr. John C. Pittman, Maria Singer, Nestor Torres, Geraldine L. Townsend, Dr. Ijya Tulloss—were critical in their initial success, as they too, adopted the passion and determination of Ms. Golden and Ms. King and put their all into getting CRMA off the ground.

With fervent tenacity, both women were unwavering in their commitment, despite the many obstacles in their path as they opened their doors.  The new school grew rapidly as the word got out that all students could benefit from Montessori teaching and learning, regardless of their background or economic status.  Even today, Co-Founders Juliet King and Lucy Canzoneri-Golden continue to strive to make Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter school the most creative, student-centered, responsive learning environment possible, as evidenced by the recent achievement of SACS CASI accreditation.  They are also currently pursuing SACS and AMS dual accreditation and are both studying for a Doctorate in Education (Educational Leadership) at Ling University. Their determination mirrors the large photograph of Dr. King’s Civil Rights march on display in the Teacher’s Lounge, whose caption states, “When your belief is strong and your purpose is just, no obstacles can stand in your way.”


[1] At inception, one of the goals of the charter movement was to advocate for a more student-centered and teacher-supportive type of educational environment.  This approach recognizes the teacher as inherent expert, co-creator and co-facilitator of a community of learners; respecting the experience and expertise of the teacher is central in this approach to educational reform. By nurturing and supporting the teachers, they will be better trained, empowered and inspired to awaken the joy of learning, acknowledge the genius, and challenge the curiosity of children. Because teachers were closer to observing the daily reality of the classroom, they were, along with the students, the true “experts.”

 

JULIET KING

Juliet King has had an illustrious career in South Florida working as a teacher, school administrator, and community leader, spanning over four decades.  Ms. King started teaching for Miami Dade County Public Schools in 1969, and workedat R. R. Moton Elementary, Whispering Pines Elementary, Bel-Air Elementary, and Everglades Elementary from 1969-1982.  At that time, she transferred within the district to an inner-city magnet school with a Title I Montessori Program, designated as such by Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” program.  Here, at Pine Villa Elementary, the neighborhood population of mostly low-income, African-American children intermixed with more affluent, white students who were bussed in to take advantage of enrichment programs, all designed to desegregate the schools. These enrichment programs took the form of Montessori classrooms, and it was here at Pine Villa, that Ms. King was introduced to the Montessori approach to learning.

Although she had already achieved a number of degrees—a Bachelor of Science in Business from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina; Certification in Elementary Education from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL; Masters of Science in Elementary Education and Certification in Urban Education from Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, FL—she was so intrigued and inspired by the Montessori methods and philosophy, she decided to go back to school for another Masters Degree.  Barry University’s Masters of Science Program in Montessori Education was her destination, and it was there that Ms. King and Ms. Golden met and began a friendship that would span many years. Later, Ms. King referred Ms. Golden to Pine Villa, where she was already teaching.  After a short time, they realized shared many of the same values, goals, and dreams for their students.

Ms. Juliet King is unwavering in her belief that “For a Montessori program to really thrive in a school, everyone at the school has to really believe in it and buy into the program.”  This realization came after many years of struggle at Pine Villa.  She remembers that many of the principals were supportive of the Montessori approach, including Dr. Willie Joe Wright who initiated the program at Pine Villa Elementary—along with Dr. Clarence Jones, who later went on to help expand the Montessori programs across the district and Dr. John Pittman, who served on the inaugural Coral Reef Montessori Board of Directors—to name a few.  Certainly there were others. But, in spite of their support, the end result was that in the span of seven years, there were five different leaders.  Such constant leadership change—especially when competition for resources and space was ubiquitous—made it difficult to establish, foster and nurture a Montessori culture, a way of learning and teaching that is quite different from traditional methods and approaches.  In the summer of 1996, when none of the Montessori teachers were selected to work in Pine Villa’s summer school program, Ms. King and Ms. Golden questioned the obvious. They decided to travel to Phyllis Miller Elementary in Little Haiti to work in a public Montessori school for the summer, but meanwhile wondered aloud to each other:  If the Montessori program really was eliminated, how could they ever return to a traditional classroom?

The timing of this uncertainty coincided with a fortuitous event—Ms. Canzoneri-Golden had read an article about charter schools—and they decided to call Tallahassee and request an application. Ms. King remembers how helpful and patient Tracey Bailey and Dr. Rufus Ellis were in this process, and how they really guided them through each step of the process.  Although much discussion and verbal planning went into the decision to apply, once they made up their minds, these two powerhouses of intention and action put their noses to the grindstone and completed the application. For almost a year and a half, Ms. King recalls they worked diligently every day afterschool and on weekends, on an old computer that they bought, pushing themselves to make the deadline.

Of all of the challenges involved in getting Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School off the ground, securing a facility that was suitable to hold classes proved to be one of the most difficult.  Thankfully, because of her longstanding relationships with the South Dade community—especially the faith-based community—Reverend Rufus Troup of Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church and Reverend John A. Ferguson of Second Baptist Church of Richmond Heights—agreed to support the school and find a workable space for Montessori education.  This collaboration, between spiritual/religious leaders and educational opportunity, was a critical bridge in ensuring that the idea and dream that had been incubating for many months inside the minds and hearts of Ms. King and Ms. Golden, would finally see the light and become a reality.

Thus, in August 1998, Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School opened its doors:  the inaugural school year kicked off with 86 pre-K-Kindergarten and 1st-3rd grade students in 3 classrooms, three head teachers and three assistants.  Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church proved to be the best location, and although they worked burning the midnight oil up until the night before the school opened, they were able to find furniture, materials, all of the essentials in order to open a fully functioning school.  Founding Board member Maria Singer was able to secure a classroom’s worth of Montessori materials for only $3000—a fraction of the typical cost—since at this time, these materials were worth nearly $15,000!  This is just one example of many to illustrate how opening CRMA was truly a collaborative effort.  Ms. King recalls that they held classes in the sanctuary and every evening had to box up all the materials, just to take them all out again the next day.  Despite the hurdles and extra work, they were grateful and the spirit of Montessori education shone through in their actions and dedication. Ms. Golden served as a teacher for 6-9 year olds that first year, while Ms. King concentrated on the administrative challenges.  Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School grew in leaps and bounds, and keeping up with the growing student enrollment proved challenging.

Ms. King recounts that in order to serve the growing number of students, they attempted to acquire a trailer from a local university.  After submitting a bid on the least expensive trailer, they were informed that they could purchase it. However, there were other, more modern and spacious trailers; so naturally, when they found out that no one had purchased those, they inquired as to submitting a bid for a larger, more appealing trailer.  While initially encouraged, they were deceived into relinquishing their bid on the first trailer and later being told that the bidding process was closed. In essence, they were promised that if they declined the first trailer, they would have an opportunity to purchase the upgraded model; in reality, however, the trickery revealed itself when they were forbidden to bid on any of the other trailers. To this day, Ms. King can’t contain her disbelief at the situation, saying “We were shocked! We couldn’t believe they would do this…they said, return this trailer and we can negotiate for another…they lied to us!”

This was one of many lessons learned the hard way—despite the honorable intentions of Ms. King and Ms. Canzoneri-Golden, they were now involved in the world of business, a long way from the caring and compassionate world of Montessori education.  During another obstacle with facilities, as a result of Hurricane Floyd, two trailers that the school was renting from Solid Rock Missionary Church were damaged by excessive rain. Whilst going through the arduous process of replacing those trailers, they proved their resourcefulness—CRMA parent Valerie Jornlid offered to host the school at the Little Farm, and they transformed adversity into opportunity by creating a nine-week unit on Farm and Agricultural Studies!  Eventually, they acquired the trailers needed to expand, and Ms. King remembers working in one of these trailers, “…without air conditioning, for almost two years…it was office space and storage space” since we had already used up all the space available at Solid Rock for classrooms.  “We never would have guessed we would be at Solid Rock for seven years,” confesses Ms. King, but that is testimony to the positive relationships they built with the community.  Because word of mouth is the best (free!) advertising, parents talked to their neighbors and friends about their love for Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter, and enrollment skyrocketed!

By the fourth year, they recognized the need to start planning for the future, establishing a fund for the purchase of their own school property.  Within two to three years, they had enough money set aside in this fund to cover the down payment on a piece of land in Goulds/Cutler Bay, the present site of Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School.  Best of all, this was eight and a half (8.5) plus acres of land—plenty to build upon, with plenty of green space left over, and plenty of room to grow into the future!

Ms. King believes that one reason they have been so successful over the years—aside from parental involvement and support and the longstanding commitment and dedication of very talented teachers—is that the two administrators, as a team, have been able to support and encourage and complement each other. Whereas many other school leaders experience burnout, cynicism, or depression in the face of insurmountable obstacles, Ms. King and Ms. Golden have been able to share the leadership load and focus on guiding the school based on each of their strengths.  With this strategy, they are jointly responsible for some activities in the school, and with many others, there is an unquestioned trust that allows them to completely hand over some aspects of leadership to their Co-Founder/Co-Director.  Ms. King acts more as the COO, Chief Operating Officer of the School, overseeing facility planning, long range planning, human resources, regulatory compliance, and external reporting to all local, state, and federal governmental agencies. Ms. Golden acts more as the CEO, or Chief Executive Officer, in charge of determining curriculum, providing leadership to the Board of Directors, staffing and evaluation of teachers, and garnering resources for the school.  Although their roles are fairly well-defined, there is such a profound respect between these two veteran educators that they often ask each other for feedback and approval, even when it is not contractually necessary, but because they value the perspective and point of view of their Co-Director/Co-Founder.

Looking back, Juliet King was surprised by the lack of encouragement she and Ms. Golden received from colleagues while they were writing their application and then later, seeking furniture, supplies, and resources to start the school.  “Some of the people we thought we could depend upon were surprisingly silent,” Ms. King muses, “making me wonder if they were concerned about potential negative repercussions.” “In retrospect,” she decides, “…I think that other educators reacted this way simply because we were new, and we could not be trusted to be an ally rather than a competitor.”  This perceived threat to public schools has somewhat vanished, thankfully.

Ms. King somehow manages to find time to be active in her community, along with devoting many hours to CRMA.  She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, South Florida chapter of Benedict College Alumni Association, the NAACP, the Dade County Chapter of the Links, Inc., a charter member of the South Dade Elks Lodge #2870, and a member of the Second Baptist Church of Richmond Heights. Juliet also enjoys movies, reading, playing cards, and attending outings with the members of the Miami-Dade Richmond Heights Red Hat Society.

For those who are interested in starting their own charter school, Ms. King has the following advice: “GO FOR IT!!  While it represents a lot of work and a serious commitment, this is all worth it, to see a vision come to life and the joy of students learning and teachers guiding in the Montessori philosophy.”   Ms. King has been blessed to see so many students and teachers grow and evolve under the Montessori approach, and she feels so grateful that so many parents have entrusted their children to Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School; it is difficult to measure or quantify the pride and satisfaction she feels for the school she has built with Ms. Golden and many other supporters.

LUCY CANZONERI-GOLDEN

Lucy Canzoneri-Golden was fortunate to have her earliest teaching experiences in Harlem at the Central Park East Schools under the leadership of Deborah Meier, whose progressive ideas and philosophies around education have had a lasting impact on urban educational reform.  Next, she was exposed to global learning approaches while teaching at a private international pre-school near the United Nations Building.  As a long-term artist and performer, she taught Drama and English-as-a-Second-Language for four years in a Title I Program upon relocating to Miami in 1988.  This experience was followed by six years of teaching at a Montessori Title I Magnet program, where she facilitated learning for 6-12 year old students. Ms. Canzoneri-Golden has always sought out innovative techniques for teaching and learning, and after moving to Miami from New York City, the discovery of the Montessori approach and philosophy resonated profoundly with her, and would shape her future career as an educator and school leader.

Born in Colombia, Lucy Canzoneri-Golden grew up in New York City, with some short stints in Orlando, Florida. She returned to New York for higher education, graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Theater Arts and Elementary Education from Hunter College in New York City, NY.  In 1994, she earned a Masters of Science in Montessori Education from Barry University’s esteemed program in Miami Shores.  Ms. Canzoneri-Golden also holds a “Director’s Credential” in Early Childhood Education, which enables Coral Reef Montessori Academy to operate a pre-K3 and pre-K4 program alongside the Miami Dade County Public School kindergarten through 8th grade program.

Lucy is constantly learning, constantly on the move, a whirlwind of activity. The office staff jokes that they need to put a tracking device on her as she zooms from conference to classroom to meeting with parents, to counseling students.  She enjoys workshops and has contemplated several times going back to school for her doctoral degree. In the meantime, with Coral Reef Montessori Academy constantly growing, she is content to continue her education through reading, dialogue and debate, and being stimulated by the intense curiosity and intelligence of the students and teachers that comprise CRMA.

Along with Maria Montessori, she has been heavily influenced by the peacemakers of the world, including Mahatma Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Daisaku Ikeda, and Nelson Mandela.  As an active member of the Sokka Gakkai International (SGI)—a world peace, educational, and cultural organization—she finds inspiration in the teachings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.  As one of the founders of the SGI organization, Makiguchi was a humanist and reformist educator who believed that the fundamental purpose of education was to maximize one’s happiness. This belief, that education is the doorway to finding one’s purpose, joy, sense of self, and identity in being interconnected, has made a noticeable impact in shaping the kind of learning environment she seeks to create with Ms. King at Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School.

As an educator and administrator, Lucy thinks “outside the box” and likes to be spontaneous, drawing from her many years of exposure to the arts as a child and young adult.  Dance, theater, music, even circus arts, were part of her early development as a performer and creator, and these creative endeavors bring diversity and diversion to everything she does as a teacher, coach, and mentor.  Undoubtedly, Ms. Canzoneri-Golden’s love for the arts has infiltrated the school’s culture—while not an “arts” school or “arts magnet,” the integration of the arts throughout the school’s curriculum, field trips, special events, and daily routine is evident, and one critical reason students excel at the school.

While the school has garnered many awards and achievements in its 15 year history, it is important to remember its beginnings and to honor the sustained efforts of many people who supported and believed in the vision created by Ms. Golden and Ms. King.  Lucy remembers that she heard about the announcement for individuals interested in starting their own charter schools in the newspaper put out by the teachers’ union. In this article, President Albert Shanker, of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke of the concept of charter schools—to create schools that were more egalitarian, less hierarchical, more student-friendly and teacher friendly.  It sounded promising to Ms. Canzoneri-Golden, and on one of the many trips back and forth commuting to teach summer school in Little Haiti, they began to talk about this as a possibility.  Discouraged by the division within the Pine Villa Elementary structure, they both realized that they were frustrated and unhappy that only a fraction of the students at this school could receive the bounty of benefits that come from a Montessori education.

For about a year and a half, they two debated, discussed and fine-tuned their vision.  At this time, 1997 in Miami, there were only two charter schools in operation, and the offices of School Choice in Tallahassee provided close mentoring and support as they walked through the steps needed to submit an application.  Ms. Canzoneri-Golden recalls that it was a very hostile environment for charter schools—there really were no precedents for this new “breed” of school, and they faced skepticism and mistrust from public school personnel.  It appeared that all parties—from unions to the school board, to the general community—adopted a “wait and see” approach, deciding to withhold judgment until the school and its Co-Founders would either go belly-up or prove their worth with a sustainable school.

Lucy recalls the early days as being tough, very much “hands-on,” and that they relied on their instinct and the support of many good friends.  Juliet King had a background in business, and that helped with the creation of their business plan.  Ms. King’s sister worked in construction, and this opened many doors with regards to finding space and securing a facility.  Ms. Canzoneri-Golden’s husband Victor worked for the county and had friends with political connections; whenever there were permits needed or approval, those relationships helped to cut through the bureaucracy. For example, the school first opened under the CO of Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church, and then later changed it over to an independent entity.  “It was challenging, really hard…we were figuring everything out as we were going, we were all learning as we were going,” she remembers.  She is grateful for the deep understanding and commitment from her family—her husband, four children, and parents provided constant encouragement and shared the sacrifice of time and energy spent establishing CRMA.

Ms. Golden is thankful for the opportunity, and now feels that it was beneficial for both educational administrators.  While neither Ms. King nor Ms. Golden have a certification for principalship, Lucy feels that their evolution was a better training ground than any “leadership program” because “…rather than be molded into a certain form, we organically grew into our positions and developed and enhanced our leadership skills as each new challenge arose.”  She acknowledges that it was an incredible learning experience, complete with highs and lows, drama and deception, triumph and tears…and is very proud of the school and its uniqueness.  Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School today is not just the outgrowth of the vision that she and Ms. King nurtured, but has become a collage of all of the teachers, students, parents and board members who have given of their time, energy, creativity and commitment over the years.

Lucy is a real believer in the power of the arts—from the school’s inception, she has always felt very strongly about incorporating the arts into the school’s culture.  This love for the arts has found its way into many of the school’s annual events, evolving into important traditions that anchor the school community.  These rituals, or traditions at the school give it a special, inimitable flavor:  Winter Poetry Festival, Annual Peace March (to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), the Middle School field trips to Colorado and Utah, Talent Show, Year-End Musical and Peace Committee to name a few.  These events are highlights for her, and although considered “extracurricular,” she feels that they are not really “extra” but fundamental for student development.  Looking toward the future, Ms. Golden is excited to see the school expand its gardening and composting studies; “The green movement has found its way into our school,” she notes, “because we are global and we are responsible for our environment.”  This is Montessori philosophy in action.

Ms. Canzoneri-Golden takes an active role in the school, claiming that “at times, both Ms. King and I can be very autocratic, and at other times, we are very open, very democratic, very community-based…the key is finding that balance.”  Given the amount of struggle, sweat and energy that has gone into establishing Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School, it isn’t surprising that both Co-Founders can be protective when it comes to maintaining the school’s mission and values, keeping the purpose finely tuned and focused.  She acknowledges being grateful to Ms. King for her prudence and calm when it comes to making decisions; on a number of occasions, Ms. Golden was ready to jump at an opportunity and eventually, with time, the situation revealed itself to be less than ideal.  Her excitement and haste is often tempered by Ms. King’s patience and skepticism.

She and Ms. King ensure the quality of teaching and learning jointly, working together to mentor teachers, conference with parents, and counsel students.  Ms. Canzoneri-Golden and Ms. King also share the responsibilities of working alongside the PTA and the Board of Directors to ensure the fulfillment of the school’s mission.  Ms. Golden is often the “face of the school,” as she is most comfortable with public relations, marketing and networking, while Ms. King is the powerhouse working “behind the scenes” to untangle the devil in the details.  Ms. Golden recognizes and appreciates her Co-Founder’s efficiency, fairness, critical thinking, and wisdom when it comes to making important decisions.  In essence, the two collaborate and complement each other seamlessly, sharing the reins of the school without conflict or chaos, guiding Coral Reef Montessori with the combined experience of many decades of teaching and working with children.

When others see their frustration and the many obstacles, they ask, why don’t you just privatize? Why put up with the excessive testing and interference from the hierarchical structure?  Ms. Golden and Ms. King acknowledge that yes, the operation of the school would be much easier if they were a private entity; however, that route would defeat their original purpose.  “The joy that we get is that we know we are providing Montessori education for children who otherwise wouldn’t have it,” Lucy explains.  Besides being a public school, our preschool program is designed to provide access to all students, as we take the VPK and CDS vouchers—virtually every subsidy available. We want to be democratic and accessible, not exclusive.

Ms. Canzoneri-Golden reflects, “I get my endurance, my inspiration from the kids…when I see them blossom, evolve, take on the characteristics of what a Montessori student is, showing a real care for environment, for the community, sense of cosmic work…that inspires me…and then, when the adults—teachers and parents—become facilitators and partners in this process, that gives me strength and purpose.”  She acknowledges that her Buddhist practice also keeps her going, with SGI President Ikeda providing encouragement and guidance—as a global leader for peace and an educator, his total, unwavering respect for the youth keeps her grounded.  “Whenever I think I know too much or I am allowing my ego to control things, I go back and align myself with these teachings, remembering what the purpose is,” she states, “…and I realize that I am nobody without the children, and I have to be indebted and grateful for that…and really honored…because to work with children is an honor.”