Leila Syal – East Lansing High School Class of 2014
For many people, the hallmark of Montessori methodology is using materials for hands-on learning, manipulating tools and objects to create a clear picture of an abstract lesson.
Leila Syal calls herself a visual learner. That tactile approach spoke to her - "I loved being able to see how everything works, like with the Stamp Game and the carrying over of numbers. To actually see that really helped me."
She attended Montessori Radmoor during her Upper Elementary years, in fifth and sixth grades, with teacher Margie Jensen in E2. She attended Stepping Stones in East Lansing, from her early years through fourth grade.
Leila plans to head to the University of Michigan to continue her education, studying Engineering, earning full tuition scholarships from the College of Engineering and Office of Admissions.
She has many fond memories of Radmoor, including the Feeling Good Mileage Club at recess, which inspired a lot of competition, and going through all the grammar boxes.
"Looking back," she says, "I really remember the grammar boxes. My teachers now always stress how people don't know grammar. I guess I don't remember doing them, but what I learned from them."
After leaving Radmoor, Leila was home schooled by her parents for two years, but went to East Lansing for orchestra and foreign language studies in middle school. She really enjoyed the challenges of the CHAMP program, an accelerated math program at Michigan State University taught by MSU professors for students in 7th-10th grades.
"CHAMP was one of my favorite things in my life so far. I loved that challenge. Math has always been a big part of my life."
Pushing herself to keep learning is central to who she is, and through Montessori education and her parents' teaching, she says, "I know it seems cliche, but I gained the love of learning, the pursuit of knowledge, which makes me want to keep learning. A lot of people don't have the motivation to keep learning. But, with Montessori, moving at your own pace, we kept pushing to keep growing and reaching to go as far as we wanted to."
Leila and Ms. Margie Jensen