Sunday, September 1, 2019

My Journey as a Montessori Educator

Photo of my daughter Emily and myself 
in front of our Children's House Montessori Child Development Program

Happy Birthday Dr. Maria Montessori. Born August 31, 1870

As a Montessori educator of young children, from 1976-1997, I am ever grateful for what she taught me. I received my Montessori Certification when my daughters were four and six years old. Dr. Montessori’s teachings gave me a deep understanding of my life’s purpose as a young mother. I grew this purpose to not only continue to raise my beautiful daughters, but to serve as a door to serve the many children we were blessed to care for during my years serving families in our in-home child care program. This later grew to become “Children’s House Child Development Center.” In 1997 I was working on my Masters degree and sold the program to begin my career as a child and family mental health counselor.
Thank you to the extraordinary teachers, Liz, Melanie, Penny and my dear Emily and Jennifer for their tireless work and love offered up to the many children and families we served over some fifteen years in Anacortes, Washington.

Here is a short bio of Dr. Montessori's heroic life as she fought for her educational rights. She was forced out of Italy and yet she carried on her work as a doctor specializing in psychiatry and children with special needs, carrying her teachings and her beliefs to other countries. She stood In behalf of children during the horrendous trials of the political tyranny of her time. The definition of tyranny in the dictionary is “cruel and oppressive government or rule.” Today, the United States has unfortunately putting 15,000 migrant children in camps under the guise of homeland security, separating thousands from their parents. This is an act of child abuse and falls under the definition. tyranny. At the very least we must stand up for these children. Vote, volunteer, and work together in their behalf. 

Tony Traficante, ISDA Contributing Editor.

“How Maria Montessori Defied Mussolini and Changed the World.
For International Women's Day, we celebrate the life, grace and indelible contributions of Maria Montessori. 

Maria, a beautiful and young Italian woman, stood at the doorway of her future — one of Italy’s medical schools — eagerly waiting to enter, only to be greeted by unfriendly students and professors, muttering, “Che vergogna,” for shame!

Why the fuss? Well, it was once an all-male school, and now it was not! For young Maria Montessori, it was such an unexpected situation. All she wanted was the opportunity to be a doctor. Little did anyone realize that, in time, she would be internationally recognized for her renowned Montessori educational process and schools.

Maria was born August 31, 1870, in the town of Chiaravalle, Le Marche, Italia, to parents Alessandro and Renilde Stoppani-Montessori. It was not until Maria was 7 years old that Italy permitted females to attend public schools. Up until then, fathers and the Catholic Church decided the educational needs of Italian women. And, as it was, Maria’s father did not favor her attending public school, let alone the higher educational institutions. But headstrong Maria, “Con una testa dura” was not about to capitulate to the educational limitations imposed on Italian women, by Italian men.

Maria’s determination to get an education began when she was 13 years old when she enrolled in an all-boys technical school, where she had hoped to start her training as an Engineer.

She was not an extraordinary student, but did well in the sciences, especially with mathematics. However, by the time Maria completed the secondary level of schools, she decided she wanted to be a medical doctor.

Continuing (and about to break more barriers), Maria applied to the University of Rome Medical School. Unfortunately, she failed the entrance exams on the first attempt but succeeded in the second go around.There are reports that the Pope at the time, most likely Pope Leo XIII, had a hand in Maria’s acceptance into medical school.

One of the problems Maria faced with the male medical faculty and students was no one wanted her beside them when having to work on a naked cadaver! “Mamma mia, senzapudore” does she not have any shame, they whispered to one another. However, the enterprising Maria was not to be sidetracked from getting a medical degree, so she solved the problem by agreeing to do her dissections of naked cadavers, after regular class hours. Dr. Montessori was one of Italy’s first female physicians when she graduated medical school in 1896 and a trailblazer for other Italian women to pursue the same.

Maria’s early medical practice focused on psychiatry, specializing in working mostly with special needs children. Disturbed by the learning difficulties suffered by these special children, Maria set out to improve their learning capabilities. She established the first of her Montessori schools, in a ghetto of Rome, on January 6, 1907. “La Casa dei Bambini,” the Children’s Home, became the foundation of her Montessori educational system. So successful was the Montessori system, it spread worldwide. Later, Maria included regular students as well as the special needs children in the school system. Dr. Montessori gave up her medical practice to devote all her time to educational endeavors.

As the Montessori educational method grew in popularity, it attracted the attention of no other than Benito Mussolini. Mussolini became so enthused with the Montessori system, he agreed to serve as Honorary President of the Montessori Society of Italy. With the approval of Mussolini, Maria opened a teacher’s training college and a wide range of Montessori institutions throughout Italy. As the years went by, Dr. Montessori’s ideological viewpoints, mainly as a pacifist, clashed with the Fascist administration and her mutual relationship with Mussolini ended. The situation became particularly worse in 1931 when Maria refused to order her teachers to take the fascist loyalty oaths, as all teachers, government employees and professionals were ordered to do. Furious, Mussolini closed the Montessori schools, and by 1934 Maria fled Italy to escape political surveillance and harassment.

Maria Montessori lived through some tough times, but was a very determined, ambitious lady. She was teaching in India when Italy and Great Britain became embroiled in war. Then, in 1940, Britain ordered the internment of all Italian nationals in the United Kingdom and its colonies. India refused to confine Maria but limited her movements to the area of the Theosophical Society compound where she was teaching. Not able to return to Italy, Maria lived in exile, in India, for the remainder of the war.

In the United States, many Montessori schools are privately owned, and some are part of the public school systems, allowing more children to attend, regardless of the family economic status.

Former alumni of the Montessori schools include Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), George Clooney, Helen Hunt, Peter Drucker (Management Guru), Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Julia Child, and Princes William and Harry of England.

Dr. Montessori was an exceptional person. She has the honor and distinction of being the only Italian woman to appear on an Italian banknote.

Maria spent her final days, living with friends in Amsterdam, Netherland. She died on May 6, 1952, at the age of 81.”

Thursday, July 11, 2019

In Memory of my Father--Frankie Laine - That Lucky Old Sun 1949

Notes from Father's Day 2019

This was my first Father's Day after the passing of my dad. I was raised on love and hard trials like most of us. I was also raised on country music from Jimmy Rogers, Johnny Cash, Frankie Lane, Patsey Cline and watching them all on the “Grand Old Opry” Saturday nights on our little black and white. Listening to them all as my dad played his 78’s and LP’s on special occasions and I danced on his feet as he twirled me around. Never really appreciating the reality of the time, I was a child, reaching for the stars.
This song by Frankie Lane, is one that reminds me of my father very much, and I still cry when listening to it. Today I thank my father for his daily long hours of hard laborious work to care for us and for his day in and day out constant love, right up to his passing four days after his 93rd birthday, November 14, 2018. I love you my father, may you now be lifted to paradise through God’s grace like the visionary prayer request in this song you introduced to me so long ago.

A Memorial for my father: Orville Eugene Bonner

 Orville Eugene Bonner. November 10, 1925 - November 14, 2018
January 18, 2019

Dearest Family,

Mom and dad’s remains were interred on December 31, 2018, at the Grandview Cemetery in Anacortes. A gravestone was ordered from Evans Funeral home at the end of November and will be placed at the site as soon as it is completed. We are very grateful to all of you for your support and love and efforts to communicate and visit with dad from wherever you were in the final days and hours of his life. We respectfully thank Harbor View Hospital and specifically Dr. Allison Brusati, and the nurses for their care and compassion during dad’s final days. Mom and dad were both members of the Co-op Funeral Home of People’s Memorial Services, and we appreciate the quality of their services.
Two sons, Ed Bonner and Robert Bonner, a daughter, Connie Bonner-Britt, seven grand children and fifteen great grandchildren, three nieces, and a nephew survive him. His wife Velda passed away December 25, 2015. He survived the passing of his father, mother, and two brothers and a sister. Two daughters, Diana Bonner, and Barbie Bell, passed away in November of 1995 and January of 2000 respectively.
There is much I could write about dad as his oldest daughter, but he pretty much did that for us with his own personal stories and poems. As we very lovingly say farewell to him we know he is now reunited with his beloved and his two daughters Diana and Barbie, and all of his relatives. Here is what I could capture as I was able to over the last many weeks since his passing. I know each one of you have your own thoughts and prayers and stories and I encourage you to please share them as well.
Orville Eugene Bonner passed away November 14, 2018 at Harbor View Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He was born November 10, 1925 in Tomas, New Mexico, to Audrey Mae Bonner and Charles Lee Bonner. He was raised in Dalhart, Texas. He was a son, brother, father, husband, uncle, grandfather and great grandfather. Orville was known to friends and family as Bob and to his grandchildren he was Gramps and to me he was just dad.
He served two years in the U.S. Navy from 1944-1946. He married his beloved wife, Velda Mae, June 25,1947. They bought a home and settled in Sunnyvale, California, raising five children. He was a self-taught carpenter, building thousands of fences in the Bay Area. He not only supported his family, but also provided jobs for both his brother Leroy and his brother-in-law Joe, while often working two jobs to make ends meet for his family. Dad liked taking his kids to the drive-in movies and the roller derby on the weekends, as well many other family outings, especially three-day holiday weekend camping trips on the Stanislaus River. In 1966 mom and dad moved to San Jose until 1974, where they bought and moved to “the farm” in Orosi, California. They then moved to Folsom where they lived and worked at “the station” until 1997. There are many well documented photos that dad has of his work designing and building a number of gas stations over the years in Central California with my brothers, Rob and Ed.
Dad especially loved Christmas, decorating the house with strands of colorful lights. One memory for me was when he worked the night shift for Sylvania Electric as a night watchman. When I was about seven years old, he dressed up in the company Christmas party “Santa Suite” after the employees had gone home, and delivered our presents at home to us on Christmas day. As a grandfather and great grandfather he still sometimes dressed up in full costume as Santa.
Dad will be most remembered for the cherished work he did preserving family photo albums. He extensively documented his life with his beloved through photo albums and movies throughout their lifespan together. During the past 24 years of his life, and after retiring and making their home in Anacortes, Washington, dad documented their life together through writing stories and poems of his life. I know this was very healing work for him. Up until his final weeks Dad was writing to his loved ones and painstakingly creating photo albums for each one of his children and grandchildren and their families. After mom passed he was always busy sending a birthday card or a special gift to grand children and great grand children. Making sure each one knew how much they were loved and thought about each day.
There will no be a formal memorial. Each one of you very lovingly visited mom and dad often over the past several years and for that they have been grateful beyond words. Gathering in their name will always be something we can look forward to planning in the future if at anytime any of you wish to travel this way. Dad’s photo albums have been organized for each of you. If you would like them mailed to you please let me know. Otherwise they are here for you as dad wanted and planned as his final and cherished gift to each of you.
May each one of us in our family continue to love each other in the ways we were taught by both mom and dad. As they shared their life’s lessons with us through their laughter and tears, hardships and strengths and weaknesses, may we continue to pass on their precious love through sharing our stories together with each other.

“Two Wolves”

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – his is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed."

Sunday, March 24, 2019

My walk as an Elder

Photo of Swinomish Hats. Taken December 11, 2017

My Walk as an Elder
Within my family I have been taught through example to extend love and kindness and forgiveness to others. These lessons have not come without heartache and pain, through the witnessing of others suffering and the experiencing of my own. There have been many lived examples shared from my parents and grandparents, and ancestors for me to learn from as I walk. No greater lessons have I been given than from my own parents, who at this time are both heavy on my heart having both now gone on to enter the Celestial Concourse on High.  May their souls be in peace. My father passed over on November 14, 2018. My mother passed over on December 25, 2015.  
My gratitude is also deeply felt for the tribal communities that surround me. I have learned how to be a family and community member through my lived experiences of  growing up throughout my adult life, over the past forty six years, within the Swinomish and Samish tribal communities. It is to these communities that I offer much gratitude for being invited in to a friendship and the humble blessing of working alongside each other all these years. I have counseled many and been counseled by many. I have attended, through invitation, countless community gatherings, funerals, and celebrations.  I have been blessed to witness and learn the meaning of love and forgiveness within these communities. Because of these lived experiences, I have become a better daughter in holding my parents in their final months, days and hours of life. A more loving wife, as I witness my husband’s walk, as I walk beside him.  A more appreciative and fortunate mother and grandmother, for I am blessed with the gift of giving life to two daughters and sharing the joys of being at each of my six grandchildren’s births.

Prayerfully, I walk to be a more humble and understanding comforter as a wife, sister, auntie, grandmother, friend and relative during times of grief and sorrow. 
I am grateful for each and every experience as I have been able to give back what I have learned to my family and community. This circle has offered up courage and strength twofold. Now on my walk as an elder, I continue to work and share these great bounties, especially with my grandchildren. I am well aware that each day is a new lesson. My gratitude is overflowing.

From left to right: My Father and Mother, Chuck's Mother and Father.
The three photos above on the wall behind our parents are of our children's weddings.

Photo taken January 2, 2019. Our 20th Wedding Anniversary.