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 Kathy Favazza, mother of two girls: Lia, who is in Upper El, and Sofia, who is in Lower El. Kathy is a strong force at Villa di Maria: she is as kind as she is involved, this year co-leading the Parent Association with Tami Presley. Thank you, Kathy, for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences in the Montessori world!
Villa di Maria: What do you do (career-wise and any hobbies)?
Kathy Favazza: I am lucky enough to call my career my hobby! I am an opera singer. Most opera singers are typically freelance in the U.S. I do concert work, such as Christmas concerts, and opera in concerts, but not necessarily full operas. I mostly perform here in St. Louis and in New York. I recently did two separate concerts as Violetta in La Traviata.
Aside from that, I really enjoy all forms of exercise. I’m just getting back into biking and walking, and I have done yoga for years. I also just discovered pilates!
VdM: What was your education experience like while you were growing up?
KF: I went to public schools in Maryland all the way through.
VdM: How did you discover Montessori?
KF: When we moved to St. Louis, our oldest daughter Lia (who is now in Upper El), had just turned two. I was pregnant with Sofia. We ended up enrolling Lia in a preschool close to our house. That semester, they had a special class with 2 – 4 -year-olds in a mixed-age classroom. Lia made some great friends who were all older than she was. But when she was three, she went back and immediately turned from a social kid into a kid who only painted in the corner alone.
We just felt like there had to be more. When we went in for a meeting one day, the head of the school blurted out, “Well, maybe you should just look into Montessori,” in kind of a snarky way. We were like, “Hm… what is this Montessori?”
We did some research, toured Villa when Lia was three, and loved it. We sent her somewhere else because we needed to be close to home when Sofia was born, but we ended up right here. Sofia came to Villa at six.
We’re so happy with our experience. As parents we are always asking, “Are we doing the right thing?” We can’t imagine a better choice for our kids. Our kids are happier; they are interested in learning.
VdM: What appeals most to you about Montessori?
KF: Initially it was the idea that Montessori meets children where they are and encourages children to move forward. I am always impressed when I observe. I’m really excited about the new buildings and the construction. Laura is innovative and moving forward; we love that about her. We love seeing VdM roll up its sleeves and put some blood sweat and tears into this place! They need a new space; it’s time!
I just completed the Silent Journey and it was amazing. I started getting so emotional because I felt robbed. I felt like if I had had that experience as a child, I would have really loved history. It’s really hard to walk away from that.
VdM: Can you share any “Montessori Moments” with us regarding your daughters outside of school?
KF: One hilarious thing is that Sofia started violin last semester. After one lesson, she decided that she knows how to play violin. I think it screams to the fact that they are so confident and self-assured.
Sofia loves to cook. She’s always in the kitchen cooking, which I think is directly related to Montessori. She made her own creation: spaghetti nests, that were baked with an egg for dinner and was so proud of herself. The independence is something that really rings out. “I’ll figure it out,” is heard often.
Another time was when Lia and Sofia were riding scooters, and Lia said, “Sofia, can I show you how to do it?” Sofia received a step-by-step lesson from her sister about how to push off, bend leg, lift up, brake. She acted like she wasn’t paying attention at first, but sure enough, she ended up following the step-by-step from her sister!
VdM: What advice would you give a parent who is interested in or curious about Montessori?
KF: First of all, read about it. Montessori Madness is a great resource. It reinforces what I already knew to be true. Go visit the school. Visit every school. That was what solidified it for us. We visited so many places, and I just keep coming back to my gut instinct. Trust your gut, do your research. Talk to parents, in particular Aiden McAuley! I think when people observe they should note the differences. If you pay attention to a Montessori classroom, there’s a difference.
Thank you, Kathy, for all that you do for our community, and for taking the time out of your day to discuss your experiences and your children with us!