As part of a series we’re calling Who We Are, we’re working to build and connect our community by interviewing the talented, dynamic parents and staff who make up the people of Villa di Maria. Today, we meet Tami Presley, mother of two children here at Villa: one in Lower Elementary, one in Upper Elementary. She is also the very busy co-chair of the Parent Association, heading up the exciting social events and gatherings for children and parents alike. She is friendly, outgoing, and easily approachable, so be sure to say hello when you see her on campus!
Villa di Maria: What do you do (career-wise and any hobbies)?
Tami Presley: I’ve worked at Commerce Bank, an exceptional employer, for 20 years. In my current role, IT Business Process Consultant, I observe and interview teams to better understand their current business practices, provide analysis, and then recommend changes to improve their organizational productivity. Solutions recommended often include a combination of strategy and automated workflow changes.
For Villa, I’m co-chair of the PA along with Kathy Favazza, my parent partner-in-crime. Together we work with volunteers to help organize fun activities for the VdM children and families. I am a very social person and enjoy getting to expand my parent networking in this role. Also, I enjoy including my kids in the planning process and encouraging their participation as volunteers in different capacities for each event.
For hobbies, I enjoy painting, arts and crafts (with and without my girls), hiking, swimming, biking, and traveling. Overall, I’m just happy to spend time with family and friends!
VdM: What drew you and your husband to Montessori? What do you love most about it?
TP: We “lucked into” discovering Montessori as we planned ahead looking for public school kindergarten alternatives for our oldest daughter. We ended up enrolling both our girls at the same time when they were 3 and 5 and haven’t looked back. It was the best decision for our kids and for our family’s lifestyle.
My husband and I were attracted most to Montessori knowing that it creates a prepared environment for our children to learn to do their best. We enjoy supporting them and watching them learn to guide themselves and to question the status quo, learn from “failures,” and encourage a passion for learning. We love that the family and staff in our Montessori community support healthy competition and personal empowerment. There are too many favorite reasons to list!
VdM: Do you have any stories of “Montessori Moments” with your girls outside of school?
TP: Yes, many! I feel our family is a perfect fit for Montessori and we have new stories to share daily.
A recent favorite for Katelyn (10) was when I asked her what type of Boo Fest game she wanted to sponsor and if she had ideas that involved more than just “throwing” since we had several throw and toss games for the school’s fall festival already. Her eyes lit up as she said “Mom, let’s make some games that use kinetic energy!” Then she immediately started scavenging supplies and recycled materials we’d saved to test her ideas for games and was off on her own creating games in minutes.
Katelyn and two of her friends making a game for Boo Fest
As a parent, it was wonderful to see the spark in her eyes while she worked.
Rachel (8) wants to be a baker and maybe a chef. Recently, I had to work a couple hours late one night. While Eric and Katelyn were at gymnastics, Rachel said something like, “Mom, it’s a treat because you are working so hard tonight. Please don’t peak or come into the kitchen. I’m making dinner for the whole family all by myself. You cannot come into the kitchen until I’m ready so you will be surprised. It will be wonderful!”
Rachel, posing with her surprise family dinner
When we were allowed to enter the kitchen, she’d made dinner (even customizing the salads to each family member’s vegetable and dressing preferences), set the table, lit the candles, dimmed the lights, served drinks and put the soft dinner music on (knowing we prefer that station as a family to her preferred pop station so we can talk better at the table). It was a beautiful, calming dinner that she served with pride. At dinner she especially enjoyed taking the lead prompting everyone to say something they were thankful for, then announcing her favorite “Bon appetite” similar to her classroom lunch hour before starting our meal. I could see her glowing with pride and joy that she did everyone herself and that we all loved it!
VdM: What advice would you give to parents who are curious about or interested in Montessori education?
TP: Observe, question, and read. Observe the classrooms; notice the prepared environment and the calm and concentration of the children. If you are very analytical like my husband and I are, thus needing more “proof” that this type of education is right for your child, interview staff and parents and current (as well as previous) Montessori students. Read about Montessori concepts; three books I’ve found useful are Montessori Madness, The Montessori Method, and The Absorbent Mind.
Thank you, Tami, for taking time out of your busy schedule to allow us into your family’s life! We are so grateful for all the hard work you do for Villa di Maria, surely making it all run more smoothly.