Not only is Andrea Cui grateful to work with children every day, she’s grateful for the opportunity to be here in the states, teaching Montessori and inspiring young minds to discover their true self.
Andrea is the Mandarin lead guide in elementary at Museum Mile. She first observed Montessori education in 2015, when a friend of hers founded the first-ever Montessori-certified elementary school in China.
“He knew I loved to work with children, so he invited me to tour there,” Andrea says. “I was so amazed to see how education can be so different from how I was taught when I was young! I also saw how the teacher and the student had a mutual respect for one another and dignity for their work, and I just knew I had to join this school!”
She moved to San Diego, California, where her friend sponsored her Montessori training, and then chose to stay in the states to continue working in Montessori education. She has been with Polis for over a year.
“I feel very lucky to have this team and happy to work in such a beautiful building,” she says. “I want to thank Higher Ground Education, because they sponsored my master degree and also helped me to get my working visa. They really care about the teachers’ well-being and career development, which means a lot to me. They want us to improve as educators, and I really appreciate that.”
It’s also important to Andrea that she continues to improve as a teacher — not for herself, but for her students.
“Aside from my work at Polis, I am also trained at the American Museum of Natural History as a bilingual tour guide, and I’m doing that because I want to help my students more,” she says. “I feel so lucky to be here in New York, and the children are lucky, too, but they also deserve a high-quality education. They deserve to be happy and creative in what they are doing, and I want to do whatever I can to help them get there.”
Polis has a strong focus on urban experiential learning, which means teachers will take the students out of the classroom to explore the city together.
“Polis is located in the golden area of the city, right next to Central Park,” Andrea says. “New York is really friendly to students and educators, there are many hidden treasures for us to explore together!”
She says the students visit the museum every week, and parents appreciate these opportunities.
“I will tell a parent about my masters in education, but when I tell them that I’m also a tour guide at the museum, they go, ‘Oh, wow! Really!’ Of course, higher education is helpful, but parents with young children really like to see what the school can offer the child.”
And the experience seems to really stay with the children, too.
“We have a new teacher joining us at Polis, so I told my six-year-old student, ‘You are going to have a new teacher this week. Her name is Lucy.’ And my student said, ‘No, no, no, Lucy is in the museum!’ (Referring to the hominid skeleton on display at the American Museum of History.) That really made my day to see how much he is remembering and enjoying the trips!”
Andrea really takes the time to form a special bond with her students. They mean a lot to her.
“I work with many different levels of children, which empowers me even more, but at any age, the teacher is always setting an expectation that the children come to respect. We can provide whatever the child needs at the moment, but they have freedom once they are aware of their responsibility. At Polis, the teacher respects the child, and the child respects the teacher.”
And, everyone feels happy.
“Happiness is really important, but happiness has a lot of aspects,” she says. “The ultimate happiness comes from the children themselves when they complete the work. When they have the freedom to choose what they are going to do, then they feel happy. It’s not about getting a high grade on an exam or how many new toys they are receiving. It’s really about happiness from within.”
To meet Andrea and learn more about Polis World School, book a tour today.