Marietta Courtney is so passionate about education and children that she lights up when she’s talking about her school.

Marietta, the 43rd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is principal of Cameragal Montessori School.

I was really drawn to Marietta’s warm personality and the enthusiasm she showed for Montessori’s unique approach to childhood education.

As Marietta explained, Montessori does things very differently to mainstream schools.

Children choose their own activities. They address teachers by their first name. They’re placed in the same class as students who may be up to three years younger or older.

Within the structures of the official curriculum, children are encouraged to socialise, to lead, to think for themselves and to pursue their natural love of learning.

The teachers respect the abilities of the students, by guiding them rather than bossing them.

Even though I went to a Montessori preschool, I can’t remember any of it, so all the fascinating details Marietta shared felt like new information.

The two of us hit it off, and we’ve already made plans to meet again in 2020. Strangers no longer!