You don't know what you have until it's gone
Everywhere in the world there are
those special people who touch others hearts with their actions and
their words. This summer, Mrs. Morgan, my primary school principal
and family friend passed away.
When you live on an island twelve
miles long and four miles wide, you don't meet people like this very
often, rather never than ever. Mrs. Morgan was certainly one of
these people. Her passing was probably one of the most shocking
and saddest weeks of my life. She was not only my old principal,
but was one of the people who made me the person who I am today.
She taught me to write, to read, to have manners, to respect, she taught
me to be the best person you can be.
Mrs. Morgan was the principal of
Century House Montessori School, a small three building school with
about sixty students, hidden upon rolling hills in the British Virgin
Islands. It is the school that I attended when I was younger.
As a child you tend to forget many people who you meet but she has always
been a part of my memories. Unlike most schools, Century House
Montessori was more than a school, it was a family, everyone was close
and many still are, this was because of Mrs. Morgan.
Those memories are what I now have
left of her. Arriving at her house on a Sunday, with my family,
always first, because my sister and I never wanted to be late! You
would enter her house and an immediate smell of cinnamon and cloves
would run into your nose. A warm embrace, with laughter would fill
the air. Everyone would arrive with smiles on their faces.
Every event there was a special one, filled with happiness and joy.
As life goes on and years pass,
people fall in and out of your daily life but you keep them in your
memories and thoughts. As I changed schools and then moved to
boarding school in the US, I saw her less and less, eventually almost
falling out of contact. Taking life for granted, I didn't visit
her for over a year and didn't stay in contact, I didn't stay in contact
with the person who made me, me. I fell out of contact with one of
the people who made me able to do what I can today.
I know I can't go back, but on the
day of her death I truly realized that you really cannot take life for
granted. You need to just do what your mind tells you to do and
not put things off, because if you keep leaving things for another time,
it is possible that time will never come. I realize now first
hand, that you truly don't know what you have until it's gone.
The Little Green Buildings on the Hill
I remember distinctly 6 years ago around this time
when I, as a parent, was faced with the challenge of which school would
best suit my precious little daughter. It was a daunting experience as
I was being extremely careful to choose a school that was the perfect
fit for her personality. A smart, vivacious, curious and strong willed
mind; however, a very sensitive and nurturing personality. I looked to
the hills and then cometh my help. Century House Montessori School. A
school like no other.
The first difference was the buildings, well
organized, open and airy. The second the motto, “Teach Me to Do It
Myself”. The third was the teachers and staff who took the time each
day to greet my child with a firm handshake accompanied with direct eye
contact and a genuine smile. These few things were only the beginning
of an experience that we have never forgotten. For three years, Zharia
was able to excel socially and academically. She learnt to read at an
early age, discover other cultures without leaving her country, develop
self confidence but most importantly she was able to be herself without
fear of ridicule or being ostracized. As a matter of fact her
sensitivity was cultivated and she was taught by the staff and teachers
of this establishment that it was okay to cry sometimes or extend help
to those in need. For those three years she was taught for two by Mrs.
Morgan, who gave her an excellent start and for one by Ms Lynsey who
provided an astounding finish.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to
relocate to the United States. It was a painful experience for all of
us to leave this place that had become our daughter’s second home;
however, she was well prepared to accept the challenge of the school she
now attends in the U.S. Zharia attends the Nysmith School for the
Gifted in Virginia and ranks in the top 1% based on her IOWA test
results for elementary students in the nation. We are often told by her
present teachers that Zharia’s success is to be partly attributed to the
excellent start she got at her school in the British Virgin Islands.
Her social skills and nurturing personality are often commented upon by
the teachers and staff of her present school and we know that these are
skills that were cultivated at Century House Montessori School, BVI.
We come home for summer and all other major school
breaks and one of the first places we still visit is the group of little
green buildings on the hill. Still well organized, still a loving
nurturing environment, still makes us cry every time we have to leave
Thanks Mrs. Morgan & Staff. Keep up the excellent
work! We will forever miss you.
Deborah O’Neal & Family
House Montessori School, BVI is a haven for the lucky children who are
privileged to attend. The surroundings are glorious, the buildings and
materials are beautiful and the teachers are dedicated and truly care
about each and every child.
spent four years as a part of the CHMS family, both as a parent and
subsequently as a member of staff. They were very happy years and I
feel incredibly lucky that my daughter's first educational experience
was at CHMS. She blossomed from a very shy, quiet girl into a caring,
confident and eager student. I know that I, together with the school,
have enabled her an incredible start in life. I hope that she will treasure
the experiences afforded her and utilise the skills she has gained to
her full potential.
only regret is that, due to leaving the island, my other two children
will not be able to benefit from this wonderful and truly unique Montessori
Mrs. Jane Unwin
am asked about what life was like living in Tortola, I talk about Century
House Montessori School. It was the jewel of our experience. No school
has been able to compare since. Not the physical space, the sheer beauty
nor the teachers. Now that I sit on various education fundraising boards,
I find myself saying things like "let's remember to put the children
first," "this project needs to be a reflection of the integrity
we are striving for" or "how can we make this school feel
like more of a community." These are all ideas that stem from working
with Mrs. Patricia Morgan. Although CHMS seems like a far away dream
to us now, I am still reminded in the most poignant way from my daughter,
Mariana, who will still say every once in awhile, "I miss my school
on the hill with my pretty teacher, it was nice there."