Kristin Edwards has always had a lifelong love of children and a desire to take care of them. Starting at age eleven, she was a mommy’s helper and realized her gift: neighborhood children listened, liked and responded to her.
At the University of New Hampshire, she took an independent study course and spent two semesters as an observer in a third grade public school class. Heeding advice from her teacher/coach, she completed her Child Psychology degree, took a break from seeking a Masters degree and moved to California.
While traveling from New Hampshire, she saw a video about Santa Barbara. Smitten, she applied for an assistant’s job at a Santa Barbara Montessori school. Although she knew nothing about Montessori, she was hired on the spot because she “asked the right questions.”
Within a short time, she saw something at her private school that public school had not done a good job with her: teaching math. She thought it odd that Montessori elementary school students were easily learning and applying math concepts via individualized learning rather than rote.
This realization was compounded when she saw how confident 13 year-old girls were with their bodies and self-esteem. It was then she was sold on the Montessori Method and the opportunity to make her own positive impact teaching children.
Kristin decided to earn the Master’s degree she had shelved years earlier and enrolled at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. MISD then teamed with Loyola College in Maryland—America’s most prestigious Montessori program—to earn her Montessori Diploma and M.Ed.
Returning to California, she moved to San Diego and taught as an assistant and then head teacher for three years. While at this new Montessori school in San Diego, she saw a need to create and provide a positive environment for both children and teachers. It was then she saw herself as an administrator—giving fellow teachers a voice as a way to empower the children they taught.
She decided to build her own school in 2000. Still, it took seven long years to realize her dream. With the help of dozens of supportive families, a real estate agent who endlessly sought potential sites, and an investor’s group, the dream was realized. She was seven months pregnant when the school opened in September 2007.
Starting from scratch, her team now has 160 students aged eighteen months to nine years in toddler, primary and elementary school programs.
Kristin is building Lifetime’s elementary school in San Diego (Grades 1-6) to accomplish one thing: creating and building top-notch students who are confident and self-assured. The goal: ensuring that her students will be prepared for college while withstanding the pressure of the middle and high school years.
“I am so blessed to have heard my calling,” she says. “I’m able to expand this passion I’ve had toward children to enable then to be independent thinkers and joyous about learning. It’s the best thing any parent can ask for.”