When asked how many children she has taught in her 30 years as a teacher at Melbourne Montessori School, Yasmin Chetty guesses ‘over a thousand’.
As she marks three decades at the school, Yasmin remains as enthusiastic about her role today as she was on her first day in the classroom in 1992. The positive school environment, the strong relationships with students and parents, and the sense of community have kept her firmly anchored to MMS.
Yasmin first learned about the Montessori Method when she was studying at the University of South Africa.
“A lecturer told me about the Montessori Method and it attracted me because of the focus on self-directed learning. It encourages children to take ownership of their education and to explore their interests at their own pace. This can lead to a deep understanding and love of learning which is very rewarding for teachers to witness,” says Yasmin.
“A Montessori education also strongly emphasises respect for the child and the development of their unique potential. It’s based on the understanding that each child has a unique way of learning, interests and passions and the teacher’s role is to observe, guide and support each child in their own unique development. That also resonates with me.”
Her career at MMS has brought Yasmin many magical moments and personal highlights.
“Migrating to a new country with no family or friends was difficult and the staff and parents of Melbourne Montessori became my family,” she says.
“I’ve enjoyed creating new ways to engage our students and to make learning exciting and fun and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I see the positive effects on my students and their parents. At MMS we focus on the whole child – the physical, emotional intellectual and social – and our classrooms also strongly emphasise developing practical life skills such as self-care, care of the environment and care of others.
“I’ve also been able to learn new strategies and techniques and continuously improve my own skills. I’ve completed my Master of Education, completed a course in Boys Education and I’ve studied more about teaching in the Middle School years.”
Yasmin is a popular teacher with students and families alike.
“Parents have often said ‘please don’t leave until my child has finished their three years in your class’. I’ve always felt respected, valued and supported by my students, their parents and my colleagues,” says Yasmin.
Outside her life at MMS, Yasmin enjoys gardening, reading, volunteering in her local community, spending time with family, playing table tennis and tennis and dancing. She relaxes with yoga and meditation.
“I have a little greenhouse and spend hours pottering around,” says Yasmin.
“I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s an inspirational book and it reminds me that each person is still a work in progress. It is deeply personal and refreshingly honest shows the human side of a man, Barack Obama, who is worshipped by so many.”
Travel is also a passion for Yasmin and Bhutan and County Kerry in Ireland are both on her bucket list.
“Bhutan is tucked between China and India and it’s a mysterious country that prides itself on sustainable tourism. Paro Valley in Bhutan is known for its monasteries, fortresses and dramatic landscapes and I have heard it is beautiful,” says Yasmin.
“My nephew lives in Ireland and always talks about the beauty of the rolling green hills. That’s also a place I would love to see.”