Q&A with VERDE VALLEY’S EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK Felisa McGavock

Montessori educator a ‘role model to her fellow co-workers’

Felisa McGavock, lead teacher at Montessori Children’s House in Camp Verde, was 7 years of age when she decided she would grow up to be a teacher. VVN/Bill Helm

Felisa McGavock, lead teacher at Montessori Children’s House in Camp Verde, was 7 years of age when she decided she would grow up to be a teacher. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – Felisa McGavock was 7 years old when she decided she would become a teacher. McGavock, now lead teacher at the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s Montessori Children’s House in Camp Verde, would gather her cousins at her home and they would play school.

“I was the teacher, always,” she says. “I had a chalkboard in my house and I loved teaching my cousins. We did this every weekend. Growing up, I always had younger students come to me for tutoring.”

An educator for more than 20 years, McGavock says that one of her favorite parts of teaching is “helping the young minds learn to reason and think.”

“I enjoy the whole process of being a teacher, most especially I enjoy spending time talking with the children,” she says.

For the past five years, Merika Bach has worked with McGavock at the Montessori school. Bach, director of the Montessori Children’s House, says that McGavock is “dedicated to the children and works very diligently to ensure their success.”

“She positively impacts each of the children who cross her path,” Bach says. “Felisa is a very conscientious teacher. She is detailed with her lesson planning and continually creates new and exciting extensions. The Montessori Children’s House is very fortunate to have Felisa McGavock on the team.”

Bach also says that McGavock is a “role model to her fellow co-workers and a wonderful teacher.”

“Felisa is a highly qualified educator and brings with her a wealth of knowledge,” Bach says. “She is a great asset to the school. Felisa is a highly motivated woman with a lot of energy.

McGavock says that if she had no become an educator, she would have probably been an accountant.

“I love working with numbers,” she says.

Verde Valley Newspapers: Describe your teaching style

McGavock: I prefer the Montessori style of teaching the best. The children learn at their own pace. They never feel that one child is smarter than another. The children have more freedom in the classroom to do what they like, with the guidance of a teacher.

VVN: Tell us something notable about your career

McGavock: In January of 2005, when I was 29 years old, I moved from the Philippines to the United States. I travel back each year to visit my family.

VVN: Do you have a favorite quote?

McGavock: Maria Montessori said “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

This quote reminds me of my fourth year of teaching in the United States. A 5-year-old child was working with the trinomial cube. He was trying to construct the cubes according to their color. He had been working on it for quite a while. After some time, I could see the frustration on his face. He never asked for help, and he was very focused.

He tried putting the blocks on different angles but did not succeed. I almost interrupted him, but I told myself, ‘No, he can do it.’ A few minutes later, I saw the blocks were perfectly in place. Then, he looked at me and said, ‘Ms. Felisa, I did it.’ That accomplishment was precious. Imagine if I had interrupted that child, he would never have that same feeling and excitement and pride that he felt completing the work on his own.

VVN: Tell us something about you that not too many people know

McGavock: When I came to the United States, I had decided I no longer wanted to be a teacher. I felt that it would be too great a challenge because of the different cultures and different behaviors. I thought it would be too difficult for me to adjust to the culture. But, thanks to my husband, he encouraged me to continue to do what I love the most – teach.

 -- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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