Keely Jackson Boomhower ’98
Applies Montessori Principles Beyond The Classroom
A career in education was the last thing art major Keely Jackson Boomhower had in mind while she was at Wittenberg. To fulfill her service requirement, she volunteered at Nightingale Montessori in Springfield, not because she was interested in teaching, but because she was intrigued by the Montessori method (she herself had once attended a Montessori school). What began as a curiosity blossomed into a deep interest that helped shape the direction of her career.
“The more I worked at Nightingale, the more fascinated I became with the process of human development. Through the Montessori lens, I saw a way to understand not just children, but adults as well,” she says. “I also discovered I enjoyed it and was good at it.”
Her experience led her to get her Montessori certification after graduating from Wittenberg. Throughout the years, she has taught pre-school and middle school children in two different Montessori schools. She says that Montessori’s simple, holistic approach to presenting information resonates with her as does its central belief that children learn from experience.
“We can present information to the child and guide him or her through the process, but the real learning happens when they work with and explore it,” she says. “In a Montessori classroom, the child is learning both from the teacher and the environment.”
Boomhower sees how some of the fundamental principles of Montessori have guided and informed her somewhat varied career, which has also included a stint as a librarian at Princeton University. This year, she became the director of the Academic Enrichment Center at Western Reserve Academy in Ohio where she works one-on-one tutoring high school students.
“My Montessori training, particularly the skills of observation I developed, informs how I interact with students now. I have an opportunity to help individual children who might be struggling with a particular subject find new ways of understanding that information. I have learned to pay attention to what the child needs,” she says.
Boomhower believes she wouldn’t have discovered her strengths and interests without the liberal arts education that allowed her to explore so many diverse areas of study – from Professor Emeritus of Religion Eugene Swanger’s Myth and Symbol course to classes in science and developmental psychology.
“I had so many interests, and I was allowed to explore them all so I could discern what direction to follow.”