Miss Kay’s Legacy at MLK Montessori

In the following letter, Becky Hill, former Executive Director of MLK Montessori, shares her memories of Miss Kay Doughterty, who was recently honored with MLK Montessori’s first ever “I Have a Dream” award.  

Kay Dougherty was the complete Montessori teacher to all of us at M. L. K Montessori School. I stepped into her classroom literally and figuratively after being hired in 1983 as the Executive Director. I was scared, excited, worried and thrilled. I had never been an executive director before, and I had a lot to learn, just like Kay’s students. My Montessori lessons from Kay, who became one of my closest friends, include:

1. Create a welcoming space:She did that for me, for staff and board members and for every child in her care. Warmth, hugs, smiles were given evenly and equally every day of her life as a Montessori teacher.  Her inner joy was contagious.

Kay and MLK Students

2. Have high expectations: From Kay’s beginnings as an MLK bus driver to her achievement of becoming a trained Montessori teacher, she sincerely encouraged each child, always expecting the best of each child’s potential. She did that for me too.

3. Prepare the room for success: Kay always knew her students could excel. She set the room up in the Montessori way, taught the lessons and stood back to watch miracles happen. 

4. Have great patience:   Kay had infinite patience with her students and with me. I was learning as much as the kids, but I surely made mistakes. Her faith in her students and in me was unfailing. She just knew we would succeed if given the right tools and encouragement.

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5. Love and respect the world and all those in it: Kay is the perfect model of how we should respect our earth and all those occupying it. She emphasized how incredible this world around us is and that we should treasure it.

I was humbled and honored to be under Kay’s tutelage; she made a lasting effect on me, both professionally and personally. Her students and I learned life lessons through her gentle encouragement and love. M.L.K Montessori School would not be what it is today without Kay’s unwavering commitment to the Montessori principles and to her students. Thank you for honoring Kay Dougherty. She is most deserving.