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Meet Daniel Thomas! The MMS Community Meeting (September 2021)

On Wednesday 1 September 2021, our community was delighted to meet Daniel Thomas, the new MMS Principal commencing January 2022.

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We were happy to meet Daniel Thomas on Zoom and hear his story! A recording of this evening is being shared with our community and especially for those who were unable to attend. Learn more about Daniel, his passion for education and excitement to lead Melbourne Montessori School next year.

Here are some highlights from this evening:

Our MMS Board Chair, Neil Cook, extends a huge thank you from the Board to our families and community. We want to acknowledge how challenging this past year of lockdowns has been on top of all of your ongoing responsibilities at home. We appreciate your efforts and thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to Melbourne Montessori School.

Daniel will be joining us from Billanook College, an independent co-educational ELC – Year 12 College, where he has held the position of Head of Primary since 2013. Prior to Billanook, Daniel was the inaugural Principal of St Joseph’s Primary School where he created a new state-of-art learning environment for 500 students. The School employed an inquiry approach to learning and teaching, with Daniel involved in the evaluation, design and implementation of curriculum policies and programs. Earlier in his career Daniel spent over ten years with St Vincent de Paul Primary School, holding the position of Principal for his final five years.

Here are a few of the questions and answers:

Question: How will our children get to know you? How will you connect with the community?

Answer: I will be present and approachable. You will see me in the morning and the afternoons at the gate welcoming and talking with families and children as they enter and depart the School. I also feel it’s important to get into the classroom. If we are learning from home, then I look forward to running some story time sessions and visiting as many online classes as possible. I will be roaming the School with my laptop, working anywhere and getting to know everyone. The children will get to know me very well, from the Parent and Toddler Group all the way up to Cycle 5.

Question: Professor John Sweller’s most recent paper for the Centre for Independent Studies debunks inquiry learning. It states that teacher-led. explicit instruction needs to precede any subsequent inquiry learning. Does this create any implications for the way the Montessori curriculum is taught?

Answer: Short answer is no… We are all going through life using any inquiry-based approach and process to learn and problem solve in our everyday lives. You may now even know that you are doing it! Professor John Sweller is an educational psychologist, and he was talking about inquiry in its’ purest form. Montessori explicitly teaches the necessary skills required to confidently undertake the inquiry process. Montessori teaching builds and scaffolds children’s learning, to ensure that the inquiry has good intentions and assists children to find their own self-directed passions. Children are supported to understand the inquiry process so that they can both learn something new and continue to learn something because they are interested in it. Holistic, inquiry-based teaching, as embedded within the Montessori philosophy, does this so well to support the ultimate goal of developing strong, life-long learns from birth to adulthood.

Question: What is your vision for MMS? 

Answer: To bring the fore and highlight for everyone the great work that you are already doing and that we continue the current vision, together! We are all on this same journey and part of my process would be to speak with children, parents and community members to ensure that the vision that we share is moving forward. That we all believe it, speak it, see it and believe it. If you can’t see it, then it might not be working. The ultimate goal is for anyone to be able to visit the school and see the vision in action. Central to this is ensuring that everyone is feeling comfortable and connected.

Our MMS Board shares that it has been an absolute privilege and a pleasure to work with Gay through a decade of remarkable growth and change for our School. Over that time, MMS purchased the Brighton Campus, established a Senior School that has been recognised two years running with a National Innovation Award and expanded many of our educational programs and pathways on offer including a Long Day Care partnership. In 2020, Gay’s leadership of MMS’ transition to online learning was instrumental in ensuring a high degree of connectivity and continuity for staff and students alike throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns. It is therefore no wonder that MMS is acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading Independent Montessori Schools catering for children from 18 months to 18 years.

We look forward to welcoming Daniel in the new year, and celebrating with Gay and our community on Sunday 21 November 2021!

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