DECATUR — A traditional classroom didn’t fit Nathaniel Tallent as a child.
He’d finish his work, and with nothing to do until everyone else was finished, he got restless.
“It’s just some focusing things,” Tallent said. “I would sit there and throw my pencil or do things. By junior high, I would finish and no longer throw my pencil,” he added with a laugh.
His parents moved him to Garfield Montessori School, and that was the right place for him, he said.
“Once I was transferred to Montessori, you work on a weekly work plan. It was easier for me to keep going. Once I finished (one assignment), I could keep going to something else.”
Now an adult and a teacher himself, Tallent is learning to teach Montessori and will begin a new job at Garfield in August, working alongside some of his own former teachers.
“It’ll be interesting,” Tallent said. “Several teachers were there when I was there, and it will be interesting having former teachers be colleagues. I think it will be a good experience.”
Tallent was working summers as a wilderness therapy instructor in North Carolina when he heard about the opening in Decatur. Two days after his interview, he was on his way to Chicago to train for Montessori certification. He’ll have more training in the fall and spring, and another class next summer to be fully certified as a Montessori teacher.
He likes Montessori, he said, because every child has an individual plan.
“Every student learns differently,” Tallent said. “It’s tough to be in a regular classroom with everyone at the same pace. Montessori allows for some leeway.”
Montessori keeps children in the same class together with the same teacher for three years. First through third grades are together, and fourth through sixth. Children move at their own pace, with exposure to the other grade levels’ work and instruction.
Marla Robinson, former deputy superintendent in Decatur who is now living in Ohio, was principal at Garfield when Tallent was a student there.
“Nate was an energetic, bright, inquisitive child who was not your perfect student, and I know he will make an amazing teacher,” she said. “I became a believer in Montessori education feeling that it could change lives, and I think this confirms that. I am so proud of him. He is going to change lives.”