Montessori is her happy place: Tracey Jensen

In Ms. Tracey’s room, there is a calmness and love for learning that permeates. The kids are all in their own areas working on materials. There are smiles and one can tell that students are enjoying what they are doing. Ms. Tracey moves graciously from one area of students to another and checks in to see how they are progressing in their lessons. 

From her own home to the classroom, Ms. Tracey is Montessori through and through. It is at the heart of who she is. Starting at the age of 19, she got a position at a Montessori early childhood development center in the infant room. It was during this time that she got AMS certified for Montessori early childhood development.

Tracey then went on to college, obtained her teaching degree from Grand Valley State University and then taught at Three Oaks Public School Academy, who is also managed by Choice Schools Associates, for four years.

Tracey will never forget the excitement she felt when she learned that there was going to be a new, tuition-free Montessori school in Muskegon. And Choice Schools Associates was partnering with the school board to open the school! It was just meant to be so she transferred over.

Opening the School 

Tracey had no intention of being the head of school her first year.  Because the right fit wasn’t found, she took the position along with teaching to ensure the school would open and be successful.  Choice Schools Associates knew that she knew Montessori and was passionate about it. They were amazing supporters and helped her through the whole process. Never once did she feel alone in that first year.

“The first month of school was a whirlwind and one that I will never forget,” Ms. Tracey said. “When MMAEC first opened, the building wasn’t ready yet so we spent the first week going on field trips and another three weeks at a temporary location!” 

And, despite starting with no completed building and going on field trips and in a temporary location for a month, along with the teachers with the leadership of Tracey, there were 50 students enrolled in MMAEC’s first year! 

The school has only grown and flourished since then. 

Montessori Philosophy

Tracey believes that kids thrive when they are looked at as individuals and learn when they are ready. The focus is on each individual child and meeting their academic and social needs. The curriculum follows them and it allows for students to be successful and confident at their own pace. 

“We are a family here. We all communicate after school and everyone listens to one another. We are here for each other and we want to learn how best to work together for each individual student. We want to push them to excel, not to be frustrated,” Tracey commented. 

In Tracey’s class alone, half of her third graders are already doing fourth grade math. She even had a first grader that is doing third-grade math. Montessori goes by age, not necessarily grade. As students learn and excel, there is close communication with parents so that they know where their students are at in the learning process. 

The classroom is her happy place and she loves it there. She has no plans to be in administration again. She loves that she gets the opportunity to see students thrive on a personal level every day. 

“Tracey goes above and beyond to support her students as a whole child, emotionally and academically.  She is regularly seeking resources to help her students better understand concepts and is willing to collaborate with staff in our building as well as throughout the Choice family of schools, “ Ali DuBois, school leader of MMAEC commented.

“As the leader that helped to open MMAEC, she is an invaluable member of our family. We hope that she stays forever,” DuBois commented with a smile.