Montessori Community Series – Shawnee Bernabe (My Mom!)

I am starting a Montessori Community Series, a blog post about the people whom I have worked with, admired, and have a big influence on my Montessori journey.  It’s a no-brainer to start with someone close to me and who influenced me greatly other than my Mom, Shawnee Bernabe.



My Mom is a big influence in my Montessori career as she steered me into a path that has led to my passion. She used to work as a 3-6 Montessori Assistant in one of an AMI accredited schools in Chicago with the same Directress for over a decade. My mom has no formal Montessori training (she chose not to) but she holds a Bachelors Degree in Education. She is one of the very few people I know that embodies Montessori philosophy more than a Montessori album can offer.


I was lucky enough to observe her working in a 3-6 classroom with 25 children. I noticed how patient she is with children, exudes warmth and just genuinely empathetic with children. No wonder children naturally gravitate towards her.

Currently, she’s working as a Business Manager for First Choice Home Health, and she misses working with children from time to time.

Here are some questions she’s happy to answer:

Q: How did you stumble upon Montessori?

I majored in English back in University and taught in an all-girls elementary school for a year in Manila, so I had a background in Education. When I moved to USA, I stumbled upon Montessori when I applied and got the job as an assistant teacher at Alta Vista Montessori school.

It was so different from traditional schooling which I am used to in Manila. I am pleased that I made the right choice – and who would’ve thought I’d be staying in that profession for a very long time?

Q: How did Montessori change your perspective with children?

Children are capable of learning and discovering things by themselves; they have the capability of doing things on their own with little or no help from adults.

Shawn Viverreta and Shawnee Bernabe

Q: You have been working with the same Directress for over a decade, what was your recipe for success?

Shawn and I are like family. We see each other every day and we have gotten to know each other very well. People were asking how we maintain that rapport with each other.
I think communication plays a very significant role in every relationship and I can say we had that. I am open-minded and I respect her. Also, by merely looking at her eyes I know already what she wants/needs. I had a great ten years working with the same Directress.

How did Montessori philosophy differ from your parenting style?

It was somewhat aligned. It’s very important to give responsibilities to children even at a very young age, such as assigning chores that are age appropriate.



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