Montessori High School at University Circle alum, Kevin Croissant, was recently interviewed by his elementary alma mater, Ruffing West, for their parent digest. In his interview, Kevin discussed the important impact Montessori has had on his entrepreneurial mindset.

Find highlights from Kevin’s interview in this special Student Spotlight:

kevin-croissantWhat was the most important thing you learned from your years at Ruffing West?

Ruffing West taught me that not everyone learns the same way, and often the process is far more important than the final result. Similarly, Ruffing helped me learn not to be afraid of failure and to learn from my mistakes to do better in the future and discover new things.

If you’re not making mistakes, taking chances, and challenging yourself, it’s very difficult to learn new things and expand your understanding of the world!

How did your experience contribute to your leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurial abilities?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in tools, learning how things worked, and generally inventing new things. My teachers at Ruffing helped me develop these interests in earnest. By 7th and 8th grade, I was handling tech support for most of the school, fixing computers and our server, recovering accidentally deleted data for students and teachers, and fixing the network. I still remember the day Mac entrusted me with the admin password, since it was almost always faster to ask me for help than it was to call the hired tech support company. It was incredible to be given so much independence (and responsibility!) at that age, and it was only developed more at Montessori High School at University Circle.

By the time I graduated high school, I was involved in two tech startups (a website host and the company that is now the Bitcoin digital currency exchange), making websites, remotely managing servers in huge data centers, doing security testing for Case Western Reserve University, and reporting multiple security bugs to Google and Facebook.

Without Ruffing helping to develop my independence and letting me work with computers at an early age, none of this would have ever happened.

More generally, how would you say the Montessori philosophy has shaped who you are today?

I try to apply the Montessori philosophy everywhere I can. High school was a natural extension of Ruffing, since I went to Montessori High School at University Circle.

I’m now a junior majoring in Computer Engineering at Ohio University, and I have an undergraduate research position in the Avionics Engineering Center at OU. It is a perfect fit for the Montessori method – I have a great deal of independence. I work with my hands and prototype abstract ideas with physical materials, and I work directly with younger students as well as older students (mostly Master’s students, but some PhD candidates).

I also find that I tend to learn new concepts better when I start working with something directly and try to figure it out myself rather than being told how it works and not being allowed to try new things out for myself.