When asked where she would like to have her photograph take, graduating student Ria Aung-Thein thought for a moment then was very sure of her desired environment:
“The Birth-3 cottage because that’s where I started at FMS.”
Back where it all began, Ria joined the school when she was 3 months old in our NIDO Program and then moved to Parent Toddler. She wasn’t able to join the Toddler Program as it hadn’t yet started but she progressed to the Children’s House where Carol Ossher was her Director. She commented that her other siblings, who all started in NIDO, did have the opportunity to go to the Toddler Program and her youngest sister, Raelynn is attending Toddler at the moment.
The Aung-Thein family has a long association with FMS. Their eldest child, Reuben graduated in 2017 and with a family of six children, all of whom have attended FMS, they know our school well.
“We all have first names starting with R. It was a tradition that started with my grandma and Grandpa and we’ve kept up that tradition. My mum is Rose and luckily when she met dad his name started with R too. My brothers and sisters are Reuben who is now in high school, Rafael who is in 9-12 with me, Rory who is in 6-9, Raquel who is in 3-6 and Raelynn who is in the Toddler Program.”
When asked what she like about being part of a large family she laughed and replied:
“Well, you’re never bored because there is always something to do. We all have chores like the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, hanging up clothes and cleaning our rooms. I do a lot of babysitting. When you’re mad with one sister or brother, there’s always someone else to play with!”
It is obvious that Ria loves school and learning. She shared some of her work with me and demonstrated the incredibly mature way she organises her daily schedule, her follow-up work and her tracking of where she is up to, ready for her one-on-one conversations with her teachers to gain feedback on her progress and guidance on next steps. The sophistication level is remarkable, showing how the growing independence and responsibility in a Montessori environment really takes flight in the Upper Primary (9-12 Years).
“I like all my subjects and the way we get to learn. We get to do really interesting work and are challenged in our thinking. Nothing is ever too easy or if it is, you get to move to the next level, and I like that. My favourite subjects are definitely mathematics, chemistry and art.”
“Our teachers are really good, and I love the materials. It’s the materials that help you remember things and make you enjoy learning.”
As is the FMS tradition, Ria was recently part of the graduate leadership team that organised Jump Rope for Heart, I explored that more with her:
“The Graduates are responsible for the planning, the overall set-up and organisation leading up to the day. On the day, we act as MCs and I was also the DJ but we all have the opportunity to take to the microphone to keep everything going to plan, build the excitement and encourage everyone to keep going.”
She thinks the Graduates (Year 6) have become really good friends and got a lot closer as the time to leave FMS marches on and she’s really going to miss that when she heads to secondary school next year. She’s also going to miss how friendly the FMS community is and all the hands-on work she gets to do. She knows that in secondary school she’ll still be able to see the materials in her mind to help her with work.
Beyond school, Ria has many interests including musical theatre, acrobatics and hip-hop dancing. She loves baking and during lockdown created a full layer cake with four different layers.
“I’m very passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone should be treated equally, and nobody should be made to feel inferior because of the colour of their skin. I want a world where everyone is treated the same or at least based on what they need.”
Asked about what she thinks she might do with her life she smiles and comments:
“I’m also very passionate about finding a cure for cancer and different diseases. I’d like to find ways to save lives.”
Ria embodies the purpose of a Montessori education – to educate for life and for peace. Listening to her talking illuminates all that we hope for in our future generations.