In the beginning...
It seems appropriate to start this blog with one of the many influences in my life, Dr. Helen K. Billings. Dr. B, as she was affectionately called, was my mother's Montessori trainer and became close friends with my parents, often staying at our house as I was growing up. Dr. B was a well known and respected educator with a love for children that permeated everything that she did! She started her career in education teaching in a one-room school house, teaching in the public school, principle, to professor of higher education. It was her discovery and interest in Montessori that took her to Italy where she studied with Dr. Julianne Sorgi and received her Montessori diploma while in her 60s. For more than twenty years, Dr. B traveled the world helping to establish Montessori schools and trainings. She was a keynote speaker for numerous international conferences and is the mentor and founder of two Montessori organizations - MIA and MEPI.
My mother had the opportunity to "travel around the world" with Dr. B in 1978 and I remember the stories my mother told of this dynamic woman. How she could turn any negative, like the bombings in Beirut which was the next stop on the agenda, to a sudden side trip to Jerusalem where by chance, she met Brother Noel, director of a school in the old city. She convinced him in their initial conversation that the school needed to add Montessori early childhood to their program and within the year, the school had just that - a completely prepared environment with certified Montessori adults!
They slept on cots at the base of the Himalayas in India and were staying the the Y in Rome when the Pope died. Though there was a basic agenda, it just meant that Dr. B planned to be in certain countries at certain times. Everything else was done last minute leading to some great adventure!
I have fond memories of Dr. B as a child and young adult. I have no doubt that my own love of travel and adventure, my passion for children and Montessori was initiated by Dr. B and later shaped by my mother.
How fortunate I am to have had this woman so present in my life!
Dr. B with my mother, Shirley Plath,
my father, Chuck Plath and years later, with my son, Taylor.