Megan Flaherty and Norah Murray
I have a fascination with the interconnectedness of the earth and the stories behind each plant, each animal. I have a similar fascination with how children learn and how their state of mind, their emotions, affect their learning. A long time educator, both inside the classroom and outside, I am continually questioning my role and how to best work with each child.
I believe that real learning occurs when it arises from authentic experiences that have meaning for the child. Children learn through various means and show their learning in various ways. Learning is a cooperative effort between the child and the teacher. My job as a teacher is to recognize the potential in each child and facilitate their learning process and guide them in taking ownership of their own learning.
In recent years I have become especially interested in understanding the special needs and abilities of visual spatial learners and how to guide them through the learning process. Taking time to work with the emotional elements of learning is critical, when children do not feel good about their ability to learn, little learning can take place. Building confidence and connection to their learning is crucial for children.
I feel that my work is to create and hold an environment of love, in all of its mess and beauty. Play is the container for this. In my 30 years of teaching, I have grown ever more devoted to the transformative power of play. As Vivian Paley says, “We call it play. But it forms the primary culture in the classroom.” Within that culture, children learn about themselves, others, and the world around them. In the midst of what can sometimes be harmonious, other times chaotic, but usually deeply satisfying, I find that children learn to relax and trust themselves.
Our day at school feel like a dance. My own background and training as an artist inform the creative work that we do. We spend our days building routines of creative expression, punctuated by rituals to mark seasonal and personal milestones. Together, we explore the beauty in things both ordinary and outrageous. Each child knows that they are free to develop their own ideas about what is beautiful, what it means to be generous or kind, merry or blue, funny or ridiculous.
Norah Murray has been teaching young children since 1988. Norah taught preschool and kindergarten at Alaya Preschool and kindergarten at Eastern Sun Academy, both in Boulder. She has a BFA with concentrations in printmaking and pottery. Because of Alaya Preschool’s connection with Naropa University she was lucky enough to take many Education classes there. Norah has taken workshops and trainings in contemplative education, social/emotional learning, giftedness, sensory processing, inquiry method, storytelling, and various art and crafts. Outside of school Norah enjoys painting, sewing, and making things.
Megan Flaherty has been teaching children in public and private schools for more than twenty years. She has a Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado in Elementary Education and a BA from Colby College in Human Development. She was a founding teacher at Running River School in Boulder. She has a background in outdoor education, she trained at the National Outdoor Leadership School, and was a trip leader for Longacre Farms and Expeditions for 10 summers. She developed the STEAM curriculum for Running River and has a particular interest in teaching math. Outside of school Megan enjoys spending time with her family and being in nature.
Ziji was founded in 2010 by Marti Holley and Norah Murray. Marti and Norah began practicing meditation at the beginning of their teaching journeys and saw that the two paths informed each other in a very unique way. They were inspired to bring their experiences into a manifestation that nurtures children, families and themselves. With help from a wonderful group of families Marti and Norah started Ziji in the Fall of 2010, and moved to the Jay Road location in 2011.