Montessori Kindergarten Teacher
Kindergarten teacher Karen Koch (rhymes with go) has an advantage when teaching geography to her 5-year-old charges. The well-traveled teacher has been on every continent except Antarctica. She went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. She does a spirited imitation of a twirling Balinese dance movement she picked up in Indonesia. She observed how the long necks of giraffes undulate as they run in a herd through the wild. And she scaled Mt. Kenya to reach that summit. Her anecdotal experiences wow the absorbent young minds of kindergarteners in her Montessori enrichment classes.
“Enrichment goes beyond what they would normally do in class,” she says. “It’s neat because they really go in depth. It’s really higher-level thinking. It’s a very meaty curriculum. We’re not skimming any surfaces.”
The Summit’s Montessori Program offers the usual introductory math, language, cultural and science curriculums most kindergarteners get but enrichment units are added in subjects that 5-year-olds love. The youngsters study animals, Native American history and performance. They learn how to craft surprisingly similar imitations of fine-art masterpieces and compare their work with the originals in the Cincinnati Art Museum. They crawl into a classroom-sized inflatable dome to study the night sky.
“If your child is taking an interest in something there could be an explosion in that,” says Ms. Koch. “Anytime any child at any age has a passion about something, oh my gosh, that’s what you’re looking for.”
The capacity for a 5-year-old mind to learn is remarkable, says Ms. Koch. “They are hungry and excited. I don’t think there’s ever too much information. As I explain things, and talk about stories, and complement it with art, they seem more hungry instead of overwhelmed. I think some people don’t understand how much these children can take in and appreciate.”
“I really like the children to understand the big picture and how the world works, so anything they come in contact with, they will be able to understand how to put it in their world and in their mind.”
Head teacher for the advanced Montessori kindergarten enrichment program. Began Summit in 1995-96. Taught 2 years prior at two well-known Montessori programs, Cambridge and Wellesley in Massachusetts. B.A., Washington University. M.Ed., Xavier University.
Ms. Koch grew up in Indian Hill, graduated from The Seven Hills School and has lived in New York City, Australia, Boston and Chicago before returning to Cincinnati. Son Brian is an ’09 Summit grad and Cameron is in the class of ’12. Studied modern and jazz dance in college. Now moves her feet to Latin American rhythms. Met Mick Jagger in the Big Apple. Vacations in a family home on Nantucket. Bumper sticker says “Gut Fish Not Houses.”