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GMSCA Volunteer Spotlight (April 2016): Michelle Wells

staff at greensboro montessori school

GMSCA Volunteer Spotlight (April 2016): Michelle Wells

In a two short weeks we will all get to attend the 2016 GMS Green & White Bash on Saturday, April 23. The GMSCA Events committee has worked tirelessly preparing this event for our community! The idea of ‘Through a Child’s Eyes’ was coined by GMS parent and 2016 Green & White Bash Chair, Michelle Wells! If you’ve had a chance to talk to Michelle Wells about the Bash you will see her eyes light up with pride and joy as she recounts the evolution of the theme and the process of involving the children in this project!

Michelle is a single mom to primary student, Waverly. Waverly is a four-and-a-half spunky, sweet gal! Michelle speaks openly about Waverly being adopted, but jokes that they adopted each other! She has plans to adopt a sibling for Waverly soon. Michelle teaches Sports Event Management at Guilford College and is clearly very passionate about motherhood, her career, and photography!

Michelle and Waverly Wells

Waverly and Michelle celebrate Halloween at GMS (October 2015).

I was delighted to chat with Michelle and hear more about her, her family, and the upcoming event!

GMSCA: Why Montessori?

Michelle: We moved here from Charleston, West Virginia in summer 2014.  I chose GMS after becoming familiar with the Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) in Charleston through my colleagues whose children attended school there.  Their children flourished and seemed to have a very healthy attitude toward school.  After researching the Montessori way of educating children, I knew this was the type of school I wanted Waverly to attend.  I want her to be a lifelong learner and have the ability to explore areas of interest in creative ways that fulfill her needs and motivations.  It’s the type of classroom where she becomes educated rather than merely taught.

GMSCA: How did you become interested in photography?

Michelle: I’ve been interested in photography since I was a child–always picking up the coffee table books and magazines and looking at the pictures—but I didn’t actually take a photography class until my late 20s.  While I lived in Orlando, I was able to take a few classes at Crealdé School of Art.  From there, it was (and still is) looking at photos, trying new shots, and reviewing them.  Once digital SLR cameras came out it became even easier to practice because the cost of printing had disappeared.  I could take as many photos as I wanted and try a multitude of different things.  I began carrying my camera with me everywhere and experimenting.  The greatest time for this was the 2+ years I lived in New York City.  On weekends I would grab my camera, hop on the subway to a random stop, then walk around for hours in that area just taking pictures.

 

This Fall, Michelle was serving on the GMSCA Events committee and graciously volunteered to take a lead role in planning the 2016 Green & White Bash.

 

GMSCA: Can you tell us more about how you came up with the theme for the Green & White Bash and what went in to the whole photography project?

Michelle: When I signed on to lead the event planning, I told the committee I would come up with a few themes and then let them choose.  After brainstorming and spending time on Pinterest, I found two photos from a fundraising event by The Robin Hood Foundation done in conjunction with photos by Humans of New York and photographer Brandon Stanton, two organizations with which I was familiar.  The photography theme was chosen by the Events Committee for its ability to get many different members of the GMS community involved.  From there the idea morphed into a sort of museum display that would highlight the GMS community and showcase the photography work of students.  Then the event attendees could purchase prints of the work displayed that night.  Other members came up with other great aspects of the event, casual student portraits, for example, and the decorations team came up with a wonderful way to display the photos.

Several other parents—a few of them professional photographers—helped work with classes and either took pictures of students or provided a lesson to students to help them become better photographers.  I worked with the four Primary classes.  Using simple point-and-shoot cameras, I would take two students at a time outside and ask them to photograph some things (not people) that they liked at GMS.  I spent 15-20 minutes with each pair and let them choose two of the following places they would like to go to take pictures:  the woods, the Primary garden, lower playground, upper playground, Lower El garden, Lower El playground (aka North Beach).  The only “lesson” (besides how to use the camera) they got involved two things:  1) stop to take pictures and hold the camera still so pictures aren’t blurry, and 2) a brief discussion on perspective.  For the second part, I would explain about getting close up to something or kneeling down or lying on the back and how that changes how something looks.  From there, they took some pictures that completely floored me!  These three, four, and five year olds took some photos that I will gladly buy, frame, and display on my wall.  I’ve been blown away by just how good many of them really are.  “

GMSCA: Thanks Michelle! I am really excited to attend the Green and White Bash on April 23rd after hearing more about it. I can’t wait to see what was seen through my child’s eyes! I hope to see you all there!