Great schools are made up of great educators, and when you step into Catherine Froelich’s classroom in the Primary division you can feel it. There is laughter, there is joy, and there is learning all around. Watching her move around a classroom of three, four and five year olds is like watching a busy bee tending to all of the cells of the hive. She carefully and consciously interacts with each individual student as she weaves her way through the tables and chairs and small work rugs on the floor. “In Montessori, I love that the children can work at their own pace and I get to be the facilitator. They can work on the floor and they can move around the room as they need to,” Catherine shared.
Catherine has a fun-loving, adventurous and out-going personality, and when you delve below the surface you learn that her bubbly nature is paired with a deeply personal commitment to the Montessori approach to education. “When I was growing up, I didn’t learn like everybody else and I knew it. I had teachers that sent me out of the classroom a lot. So I have empathy for kids who learn differently. I work to create an learning environment where each child is allowed to be their own person, quirks and all.”
Being a master at facilitating learning in the classroom is just one element that makes her an extraordinary educator. Catherine also has a deep appreciation for the role of parent partnership in shaping a successful school experience. According to Catherine, “building trust with the child and with the family is the most important thing that I do." This fall she worked with fellow faculty member, Tracy Carr, to translate this passion into a presentation on family communication at the 2017 Annual Educators Conference of the NC Association of Independent Schools.
Her work to build trusting and lasting relationships with the families resonates with families long after they leave her class. Lower Elementary parent, Mary Kristen Clark, shared this special sentiment about Catherine:
"In the three years our son, Avery, spent with Catherine in Primary, not a day went by that I didn't thank my lucky stars that his growth and development was influenced by such a phenomenal teacher. He walked through her door a hesitant preschooler and left a confident boy. Catherine instilled in him a love of learning and validated the merits of the Montessori approach to education for us. Isaac and I will forever be grateful for her guidance and patience, not only for our son but for us, as well!”
Catherine has been a member of the Primary faculty since 2011 and holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNC Chapel Hill and a Montessori teaching credential from the Santa Monica Montessori Institute in California. In recent years, she has also emerged as a faculty leader and is currently serving as the Primary Division Head. In reflecting on her role as division head, she said:
"I enjoy being part of something new and laying the ground work for a new vision for the future! Our team is so excited about the plans for refurbishing the Primary classrooms with proceeds from our new fundraising campaign 70 in 70: The Fund for GMS. The children will be the main beneficiaries of this project. It will make them feel valued! I hope that all of our families will find a way to participate whether their child is a past, present or future Primary student."