Cecile Zaik

Cecile M. Zaik, 85

AMI Montessori Educator Propelled by an exceptional and curious mind Cecile M. Zaik loved to explore ideas and possessed a great insight into the learning process and how children learn. She had the ability to handle diversity and adaptability and how things worked in the natural environment.

Never satisfied with how children were taught in a public and private setting, her inductive approach to education motivated her to establish in 1962 the Pincushion Hill Montessori School in Ashland, Massachusetts. The founding of her AMI Montessori School is the greatest milestone in her life.

This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the pre-k to grade 5 school. Pincushion has been highly successful and since Mrs. Zaik's retirement her daughter Christine M. Kovago has operated Pincushion for 20 years.

Cecile's second milestone was "gardening" with the children's gardening being an integral part of the curriculum. The children would plant seeds outdoors, harvest vegetables, fruit from planted fruit trees and then indoors prepare food to eat.

Her irrepressible personality mirrored persistence in completing a task that would almost turn to be an obsession. An example of that was working for weeks on Hopi Kachina dolls as part of a school program.

As an avid speed reader Cecile read English, Russian, French classics; for instance all the writings of Balzac. She spoke fluent French. J.R.R. Tolkien was literally devoured.

Science fiction was her real forte', and read more than 100 Isaac Azimov's publishings.

With her husband Cecile traveled throughout Europe. On several trips to Mexico and explored and studied Mayan and Aztec civilizations.

Her everlasting interest included: crafts. She experimented in the making of jewelry, greeting cards, working with clay. She also collected art work from the southwest created by Native Americans, Navaho, Apache and Hopi Indians.

Her education background included St. Joseph's High School, Putnam Academy, Connecticut, Amherst College, and the AMI Montessori Institute in Washington D.C..

Cecile leaves her husband Ernest of Eastham (Cape Cod), daughter Christine and son-in-law Agoston Kovago of Shrewsbury, Mass., daughter Mary and her partner Kris Hillenburg of Little River, South Carolina, sons Edward of Fountain Valley, Calif., Ernest Jr. and grandchildren Rachel and David of Phoenix, Arizona.

FUNERAL NOTICE: Waking hours will be at the DERY FUNERAL HOME in Pittsfield, Thursday, December 6th from 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral Mass the next day at St. Joseph's Church, North Street, at 9 a.m. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

In memory of Cecile, donations may be made to Hope Hospice, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601.

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Funeral Home

Dery Funeral Home
54 Bradford Street Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 443-9151

Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Dec. 4, 2012