Well Being - “Service to the Community”
Consistent with Montessori Educational Philosophy Perth Montessori School actively participates in the Virtues Project. This program honours various traditions and provides principles of spiritual and moral empowerment from a multi-Faith, multicultural perspective. At Perth Montessori there has always been a wide recognition of the need to address social, emotional and spiritual matters, so that students, staff and parents can interact in peaceful and harmonious ways, showing mutual respect. Central to that need is the services of our Well Being Counsellor whose programs and initiatives significantly contributes to the children's and their parents and guardians awareness of themselves and others.
Perth Montessori School is a small and vibrant community school in which a significant number of parents have moved to Perth from interstate and overseas. Many are engaged in the Resource Industry or peripheral businesses that exist to service the resources industry so that the family unit is not always together as a whole with many parents away on business during the course of a child’s life.
Also we have many families who lack an extended family locally to provide support and so they look to the school community to provide this function. In fact, many families consider this school community aspect to be a central reason for their presence at the school.
Montessori philosophy is about the education of the individual child as a whole. As such, the ability to more consistently give students access to someone that can provide a spiritual perspective and pastoral care approach, within the tenants of our following of the Virtues Program, perfectly aligns with this ethos.
Perth Montessori also shares the "Virtues of the Week" in a weekly update to its community and via its Facebook page. Additionally, we incorporate this approach in our STAR Martial Arts program which also supports the notion of 'spiritual' growth for the individual and the collective.
Our Well Being Counsellor provides more practical assistance such as helping community members to connect with student and family support services and assisting parents and teachers to better liaise on these matters. The Well Being counsellor is also available to all adult community members to help provide guidance, in confidence, about any spiritual or ethical matter, not merely those related to school issues. Programs such as parenting courses are also provided.
Most importantly, students, with appropriate parental consent, are also able to discuss with the Counsellor anything that is troubling them, giving them a valuable and discerning guide in their growth toward adulthood.
In class focus areas
Growth class develops the cycle 3 students’ in their personal and character development through the introduction and exploration of virtues and how they can apply virtuous interactions and deeds in their daily lives.
Spiritual Empowerment class for cycle 4 builds on the understanding of the virtues they learnt in cycle 3. This class is more specific to the age group; exploring matters on a more explicit level such as goal setting, forming effective habits and life skills to equip the students for any possible adversity they may face in the coming years.
Penny - Well Being Counsellor
Personal background: I grew up in Perth Western Australia for most of my life. In my early years had the explorative freedom of ‘swinging from tree to tree’ on my parents’ rubber tree plantation in Malaysia and making ‘playmates’ with the red crabs on Christmas Island. I have grown up with exposure/understanding of both the Malaysian Chinese and the Australian culture, hence merging the best from both worlds, representing the diverse global multicultural society we now live in. I also have a love for creativity; arts and music, channeling this through choir, piano/guitar and creative projects. I thoroughly believe in living holistically/spiritually, for that is the key to having complete satisfaction in our well-being.
Education and work: I have always had an affinity to the humanities and working with people collectively and individually. I have a fervent belief that humanity is capable of taking responsibility to educate themselves spiritually which is to live by their highest moral values, these being the virtues. Virtues in latin is ‘Virtus’, which means power.
Such interest led me to study my Psychology degree with minors in social and developmental psychology. After my degree I worked in areas such as building united, cooperative, diligent and joyful work cultures in organizations and becoming trained as a behavioural therapist working with people of special needs. I currently work at Montessori part-time and have continued private behavioural therapy with children/teenagers that are developmentally delayed or under the Autism spectrum. Therapy involves working on life skills such as; independence, pre-academics, social skills, fine motor, gross motor, visual spatial, language and challenging behaviours.
On the weekends, I also have the fortunate opportunity to co-facilitating a youth group and children’s classes that are based on spiritually empowering the youth and children with the tools and skills of virtues and morals to develop their capacity to serve humanity.
I am also a trained “Virtues Project” facilitator as well as a member of the Asia Pacific Network for Moral Education (APNME), which aims to ‘foster and strengthen teaching and research into moral education and moral development in this region and globally’(APNME).
Educational Philosophy: As stated by Linda Kavelin Popov (The Virtues Project co-founder), “To educate means to bring forth”. To bring forth the capacity and gems (virtues) that each individual possess, we as educators are here to help children realise their inherent spiritual potential, to guide and to draw out, to see these gems especially in our children and to help them find and polish them. I also believe that we need to educate our children to take personal responsibility if they want to develop themselves, constructively serve their communities and society. Spiritual education is the indispensable foundation for all other learning; it is the cause of both individual and collective progress in society.