By Stacy Dahl, from St. Catherine University Magazine spring 2022 issue.
Megan Andrews ’06, MAED’10 has infused St. Catherine University’s mission — educating women to lead and influence — into her everyday teaching style at Great River School in St. Paul. Andrews works as a Montessori Lower Elementary Guide and has followed her life’s passion into teaching a multi-age classroom of first, second, and third graders.
Graduating from St. Kate’s in 2006 with a degree in English, Andrews worked as a dance teacher and floral shop assistant before realizing that she wanted to pursue a master’s in education. The St. Kate’s Montessori program immediately attracted Andrews, and the teaching license she would earn with it made the program even more advantageous.
Like the liberal arts education she received at St. Kate’s, Andrews’ teaching style delves into a wide range of subjects, from geography to art to math. In contrast to a typical classroom, however, the Montessori methodology she employs involves a more hands-on learning approach in which students spend three years in the same classroom, starting in first grade.
“So much of the material that I read and the discussions I had in my college classes have stuck with me. St. Kate’s has very much shaped who I am as a teacher,” Andrews said. “My education taught me Montessori theory and curriculum, but also how to teach in today’s classroom. Just as St. Kate’s presents liberal arts through a social justice lens, I do the same for my elementary school students.”
Andrews’ work as a teacher is undeniably challenging at times, but she finds her role deeply fulfilling. "Since they are 33 individual humans, I am responsible for their mental health as well as their social and emotional learning,” she explains. “It can be a lot trying to meet those needs, but I have an amazing, supportive team at Great River, and my students are at an age where they really love school — I get to teach eager learners who want to know and learn as much as possible.”
Reemerging throughout Andrews’ approach to teaching is the emphasis St. Kate’s Montessori program places on tapping into each student’s potential. “It’s my internal drive and motivation to give them the best lessons and open as many doors and windows for them as possible. I want to create a rich environment where they can thrive.”
In September 2019, Andrews embarked on a 13-day literary journey to England with around 15 other St. Kate’s alumni. Under the expert guidance of Geri Chavis, PhD, St. Kate’s professor emerita of English and women’s studies, the group followed in the footsteps — literally — of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and the Brontë sisters as they visited the legendary authors’ birth cities and homes. The group engaged in discussions as they traveled across England and connected each place to the setting of the respective story.
“The trip was a very special experience, since it was led by Professor Chavis, one of my favorite professors,” says Andrews. “It made me realize once again how important my St. Kate’s education is to me. As a Katie, with the small class sizes and individualized attention students receive, I knew that professors cared about how I did in their classes and what I learned. I could and did go to them for support.”
Highly involved in her local Girl Scouts council from a young age all the way through high school, Andrews was drawn to St. Kate’s by its women-centered focus and education.
“There was a big difference between going to high school with both boys and girls and then having weekend trips with my Girl Scouts troop,” Andrews says. “Being a student at a women’s college like St. Kate’s was always empowering — and so is being a St. Kate’s alum.”