Jack Gumbiner

Jack Gumbiner
Bergamo Montessori – Sacramento

Year Graduated:

From Bergamo – 2012
From High School – 2017

School Attending: University of California, Davis

Major: Animal Science/Pre-Vet

Dream Job: Professional Racing Driver

What skills did you develop at Bergamo Montessori that help you in school today?

I remember the first big project that was assigned to the class when I started conventional middle school: I went home and chose my theme and outlined my plan, but in talking to the other students in my class the next day, I noticed they were almost all looking to the teacher or their parents to tell them what to do and how to do it. I realized then how self-directed I was compared to others, and how my prior Montessori education had helped me to become a creative thinker and a problem solver. Throughout middle school and high school, I was always recognized as a leader among my peers – by peers and school staff alike – which I would attribute to the confidence and thoughtfulness that the Montessori curriculum at Bergamo inspired in me. Not necessarily a ‘skill’, but the biggest thing that has stuck with me since Montessori is my love of learning – which I think stems from being given the freedom and opportunity to pursue deep studies of topics and interests I was passionate about.

What is your fondest memory of being a student at Bergamo Montessori?

One of the standout memories of my time at Bergamo was writing and illustrating a two-volume graphic novel over the course of a year with one of my close friends. We were given the freedom to explore and be creative in a way that interested us, and it was also a learning experience about collaborating on big projects. Another good memory I have is being one of the ‘founders’ of Paper City – participating in the first and subsequent few iterations of the project. A few friends and I came up with the idea of making a giant model city out of sheets of paper cut and taped into different structures – with minimal guidance from Aimee (our teacher), it evolved into a great way to learn about economics, statistics, and government while having fun with friends. I believe the project was passed along for several years after I was gone, which is cool.

What was your transition like to a conventional school when you graduated from Bergamo?

After I left Bergamo, I went to my neighborhood public middle school for 8th grade – a ‘choice’ school in our district. I was well prepared academically – I always placed in the ‘top’ few students throughout middle school (and high school), and even had a healthy GPA competition going with my best friend in middle school (grades were such a compelling novelty after Montessori!)- but the one thing that caught me off guard was how meaningless and dreary the massive amount of conventional school homework was! I didn’t have time for much else in my life. I was so used to the Montessori learning process, and especially how much I actually enjoyed the concrete lessons and learning through that process, that sitting in class taking mostly trivial notes while a teacher talked at you for an hour, then going home and regurgitating those notes in the form of answers to standardized questions nearly bored me out of my mind. I made some great friends in middle school, and had a couple of teachers that taught interesting classes in non-rigid ways, but the overall transition left me rather disappointed. Luckily, I was able to choose an awesome local project-based high school that was closer to Montessori in philosophy, with more individualized learning and less busy work.

Where are you attending school now, and what are you enjoying in school and life? What is important to you in life?

I had a hard time choosing between my two passions, engineering and animals, but ultimately decided to accept an offer from UC Davis into their Animal Science program. I can safely say that I am looking forward to learning and meeting new people throughout my time there. Staying local will allow me continue my aerospace engineering internship that I began through my high school. We are working toward the long-term goal of building an airship, which currently includes many small-craft test launches into near space. Last year, I had the fun – and challenging – learning adventure of converting an old 2-stroke Versatrek JIGER from the 60’s into an electric motor recovery vehicle for our missions. In life, I’m enjoying spending lots of time with my friends over our last summer before we’re tossed headfirst into real life! My answers to ‘what’s important to me’ are pretty generic – family, friends, my pets (all animals, really), well designed automobiles, laughing often – but genuinely felt, nevertheless!

What are your plans for the future?

At UCD, I plan to get my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, then go to vet school for postgrad and achieve a Doctorate in veterinary medicine. I’m not yet sure whether I want to go into the research field or work at a practice, but I have time to figure that out based on what interests me in my studies! There are also programs in grad school that marry engineering and animal science, which may be a great path for me. Aside from my future career, I’ve always had a huge passion for cars and flight. I would love to race vintage cars, and am currently saving up for the first of hopefully many in my collection. I’ve had a lifelong dream of flight school as well, so I may try to fit that into my spare time somewhere along the way. It’s probably important to mention that I plan to have a lot of pets – I already have a history of ‘foster failure’ (meaning I adopted them myself instead of adopting them out) where rescue animals are concerned…

Comments about Jack from his teachers at Bergamo Montessori:

“Jack is definitely an intellectual. He loves reading, thinking, and reflecting. He weighs his words carefully before he speaks, and he is calm and composed in the way that he communicates. He is well-informed and passionate about what he loves, yet he approaches subjects with so much equanimity and ease. He’s highly competent, knowledgeable, and recognized for his intellect, yet he is very humble about his accomplishments. He has worked hard these past few years, and I know that he’ll be very successful at UCD. He’ll probably teach his professors a thing or two as well!” – Aimee Meyer, Upper Elementary Guide