Transitional Moments

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photoWhat happens when students leave the Montessori environment for the “real world” of texts and exams?

According to alumna Naomi Kirshenblatt, not much; “For me, I found everything different just came naturally,” she said about her transition from OMS Montessori to John McCrae Secondary School, a public High School in Barrhaven.

Naomi, who attended OMS from kindergarten to grade 8, visited us in June shortly before graduating from High School. As she anticipated leaving for university, she reflected on her last big transition, which was when she left OMS for High School. She said the transition went smoothly, both socially and academically.

In fact, her Montessori experience proved to be very valuable when she entered into the High Performance Athletic Program at John McCrae, a program “designed for committed athletes interested in maximizing their athletic potential while maintaining a high academic standing.” The program runs in a classroom comprised of all different grades and one teacher. Naomi said a lot of her friends struggled with the self-driven program, but she didn’t have a problem with it.

“I think because of my Montessori experience I was able to work on my own,” she said. “I would just do my own work and when I was done, I would pull out homework from another class.”

The program enabled her to succeed academically and in her sport of choice: swimming. Naomi started swimming at the age of nine, because she wanted to participate in a water sport. She now swims nine times a week with the Nepean Kanata Barracudas Swim Club.

She competed in the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish event held quadrennially in Israel, in 2009 and 2013. The Games have over 70,000 participants from 66 countries. Naomi was a final qualifier at these games where she competed against world ranked swimmers.

As an accomplished swimmer, a National Society of High School Scholars, and an Honor Roll student, Naomi had her choice of Canadian universities. She was accepted into every program she applied to at universities across Canada. She even visited Acadia University, University of Waterloo and the University of Manitoba who were all competing for her attention. She chose Manitoba for the program they offered and for the unique experience she anticipates it will offer her. She will be a valued member on their swim team and they offered to pay for any cost affiliated with the team.

Naomi will be studying Actuarial Sciences in the Asper School of Business, a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk.

“I’m excited to meet new people and see what I can do on my own,” she said.

She is nervous about taking the next step, but knows she is ready and is confident she will succeed academically.

“When you are here [at OMS Montessori], you have the chance to build a really good foundation for how you learn,” she said. “You may be an audio learner, or a kinesthetic [learner], or a visual [learner] but you know you learn like this.” Naomi says she is a visual learner and will apply this knowledge to help her succeed in university.

Naomi said two skills acquired at OMS are seeming more important than ever as she embarks on her next journey: Time management skills and cooking!

“When you’re in university, there are a lot of distractions… but it’s like when I was in Junior High. I had work to do but there were a lot of distractions; your friends are there, and they are doing different things, they may be having snack time and you’re like ‘I want snack time’ but actually I have math to finish.”

Eventually, she’d like to be a lawyer. “I like patent law, so maybe taxation,” she said. But for now, her focus is on her undergraduate degree in Manitoba.

As for swimming in Manitoba, Naomi is just looking forward to a more “relaxed” schedule that will keep her grounded. She will train every morning for three hours.

“It will be good to keep me on task,” she said. “…Swimming will be the parent saying ‘you have to go to bed now’, ‘you have to study now’ because you have swimming later”.

As for performance, Naomi seems totally confident in her answer:

“I just want to be the best that I can be.”