As Ohio Valley Voices’ resident Montessori Instructor, Selina Kissell draws on her unique background and infectious enthusiasm to make every moment in the program—even challenging ones—an opportunity for growth, play, and adventure.
Selina was born in South Carolina and moved to Ohio as a kid. During her college years at Bluffton University, she majored in Social Work and Psychology with a minor in Peace and Conflict Resolution. This distinctive combination of interests served her well while studying abroad in Northern Ireland.
“My placement at The Corrymeela Community offered me the opportunity to work with individuals and communities suffering from violence and polarization in the Northern Irish Conflict,” she explains. “I worked specifically to organize collaborative group retreats to reunify the children of Protestant and Catholic families who lived during the Troubles and foster peaceful alternatives and inspire resiliency.”
Following her time in Ireland, Selina received a Montessori education certification from the North American Montessori Center. She was looking for something fun and different when she came across an ad for Ohio Valley Voices. “I found OVV by chance! Which, in turn, has become fate,” she says. “I have learned so much these past six years and am constantly inspired by all the children I have had the honor to teach.”
As the Montessori Instructor in the Exploring Center (EC), Selina aides the EC’s lead teacher by providing language support and, in her own words, “general merriment.” She designs Montessori activities to help the children develop motor skills (e.g. scooping, using tweezers), daily living skills (e.g. sweeping, folding clothes, setting the table), and exploring skills (e.g. recycling, mixing colors, discovering plants and flowers).
For Selina, the most challenging moments arise due to the “ever-changing moods of the children as they transition through the day.” Thanks to her years of Montessori and conflict resolution training, though, these crisis situations often yield unexpected learning opportunities.
“Each day is a new day,” Selina reflects. “Some friends will be happy to be there immediately, and some need extra hugs. The most rewarding and challenging moments coincide. Through hard work and fun activities and experiences, all the challenging times can result in a new word or understanding.”
When she’s not working at Ohio Valley Voices, Selina enjoys watching 90s teen comedies, reading, going to the nail salon, hanging out with her dog, and practicing yoga. Her top two passions are traveling and spending time with family and friends. She recently got engaged to her partner John, who she will marry next fall.
When asked to choose a favorite OVV memory, Selina says there are too many good ones to pick just one. By her estimation, the greatest moments come after a child has left the program and embarked on a lifetime of success.
“The takeaway I get from working at Ohio Valley Voices is being a tiny blip in the success of the children I teach and learning of the abundance of success they have in the future,” she says. “OVV students work 10,000 times harder than their hearing peers. There is not one student I am not proud of. Every day these children make strides and overcome barriers. They are the true superheroes of OVV.”