Julia Simon – Principal of Alive Montessori & Private School
Julia Simon was born in Szeged, Hungary, a small town near Budapest, in 1959. No doubt encouraged by parents who were both professional educators, her interest in education was cultivated at an early age.
Her father was a renowned Hungarian philosopher, historian, and linguist who taught at the college level. (Before his college career, he taught high school and had great success teaching gifted students for academic competitions and university entrance.)
Julia’s mother was a schoolteacher who later became the principal of a large inner-city elementary school. By focusing on art, she was able to engage the many disadvantaged children under her charge and turn their education and lives around.
Julia’s early interests included athletics (she was an accomplished gymnast and swimmer), dance, art, music, writing and, of course, teaching. After High School, she attended Teachers’ College where she graduated with an Elementary School Teachers Certificate. She also earned diplomas as a Librarian and Swimming Instructor.
During her tenure as a teacher in Hungary, she came to deplore the heavy state control over education under the Communist government then in power. It was this lack of intellectual freedom that prompted her to seek a new life in the West, and, after a brief residence in Germany, she moved to Canada in 1987.
Forced to learn a completely new language at age 27, Julia gained a unique perspective on the difficulties in learning how to read and write English. (Unlike Hungarian, the spelling patterns in English are so varied that they form a singular challenge in learning to read and write.) With her own experience as a backdrop, and knowing that reading was the most important ability in all subsequent learning, Julia vowed that she would find and use the best methods for teaching children how to read and write.
Subsequently, she earned her Early Childhood Education Diploma from George Brown College in Toronto in 1990. It was shortly after this that Julia set up her first pre-school. After a divorce and with no other financial support, she was forced to develop a strong work ethic in order to raise her three children as a single mother. This meant working very long hours at additional jobs on top of her demanding work at the school.