My name is Erin Castle, and Barbara Katavolos and I are the directors of Hawk Meadow Montessori School.
I feel very fortunate in that my parents chose a Montessori education for me when I was a young child. I attended a Montessori school in Dayton, Ohio for my pre-school years. Unfortunately, that school did not offer an elementary program, so I left there when I was 5 years old, but I remember my time there with great fondness. I also attribute the majority of the thinking, reading and life skills that helped me in my later years to the strong foundation I received in a Montessori environment.
At the urging of my high school English teacher, I applied to and attended Vassar College. I fell in love with the Hudson Valley, and was very content to stay here after earning a bachelor’s degree in English and French. For five years, I worked as a reporter and then editor at Taconic Newspapers in Millbrook. I learned a great deal and met wonderful people (including my husband!), but felt I was still missing out on my life’s work.
My favorite part of the newspaper job was going to local schools and spending time with children, so I applied to work at several schools. I was thrilled to be hired at Brendon Montessori, where I felt at home right away with the philosophy and with my co-teacher, Barbara Katavolos. I taught for two years in the toddler classroom, and then moved into the primary program. I spent three years travelling to New Jersey at night to earn my Montessori primary certification, and it was time very well spent.
I was an assistant teacher in primary for two years, and then a head teacher for one year before the birth of my son, Max. While home with him, I wrote a couple of successful grant proposals for Brendon, including a Teaching the Hudson Valley grant. In 2006, I returned to Brendon Montessori as the assistant director.
In 2008, Barbara Katavolos and I formed a new school, Hawk Meadow Montessori School. I gave birth to a daughter, Josephine, in November of 2011, and now have children in both the toddler and upper elementary programs here at HMMS. We have a wonderful community of students, teachers and parents here, and we are so proud of the kind, thoughtful and respectful children that make up our school.