Despite the war, Iryna DROZDOVSKA is planning to reopen a preschool in Kyiv. It will be based on the well-known Montessori methodology. In our interview, we talk about launching the Ukrainian campus and helping children.
- Iryna, tell us about your school. How did you create it and was it really that difficult to found a preschool?
- Back when studying at a university, I knew that entrepreneurship was my calling, not just a job. I liked to create ideas and think through strategies and steps to implement them. After all the experiments in various businesses (construction, development, advertising and promotion), I realized that I wanted to find my true purpose. I started looking for myself even in politics, although deep down I always understood that my calling was related to children. After all, it all starts with them! And fate itself led me to a kindergarten project that I implemented in Kyiv. And after emigrating to New York in 2014, I founded two more Montessori schools (for children ages 0-12). At our schools in USA, children of families from many countries study and speak more than 30 languages. In 2022, we founded one of my favorite projects, the Hopscotch Hub, an international educational platform for Montessori entrepreneurs and leaders. Behind all this is the hard work, discipline, perseverance, help, and work of the entire Hopscotch Montessori team. My support is always my husband Dmytro Drozdovskyi and our business partner Jeff Frank.
- Your school uses the Montessori methodology. What is it?
- I wanted to create a place where decisions would always be made in the best interests of children. Where they can understand their beliefs and what is happening in the big world. Where there can be unconditional respect and love. That is why I came to the Montessori method because it is aimed at developing the whole child. The educational environment is built by the natural stages of a child’s development and sensitive periods, in other words, «windows of opportunity». We give children the opportunity to develop independence, think critically and organize information, which becomes an essential skill for every child as they grow up.
- Earlier, you said that you were planning to «resuscitate» the school on April 1. What will it be?
- In January 2023, we decided to resuscitate our preschool in Kyiv, which was closed due to the outbreak of a full-scale war. We understand the seriousness of the situation, the danger, and the need for the team to have special training. We also understand that in order for the school to function in the coming year, it will involve a lot of charity work on our part. We are doing everything to open the school and are ready to help Kyiv families. This is my personal goal and the mission of our entire team.
- Iryna, I know that you do volunteer work. Please tell us exactly what you do.
- Thanks to the cohesion of the International Montessori Community, we were able to help several Kyiv families by placing their children in Montessori schools in other countries. For the first four months, our colleagues in New York helped raise funds to cover the salaries of the Kyiv team until people were able to work. After that our target was to assist the premature babies’ unit at the Kyiv Okhmatdyt.
- Do you talk about the war in Ukraine at your school?
- My son Denis shared everything with his classmates in New York: he told them about how he heard the explosions and air raid sirens, how scared he was, and how we left. The classmates asked questions and discussed the situation. This was the sincere and honest conversation. In addition, in the first months, elementary children and teachers in New York held online meetings with their peers in Ukraine. It is very important for them to realize what is happening. They take the initiative, and we gently support them!
Facebook: Iryna Drozdovska