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 Charmin Dahl and Allison Davis and their daughter Emerson, who just joined the 5th years with Rebecca, Justin, and Colleen in Upper El. Enjoy the interview below!
Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about your family.
Charmin Dahl: We moved here from Las Vegas, NV. Allison is a surgeon and took a job with SSM Health, which is what brought us to St. Louis. Emerson will be going into 5th grade. She started Montessori as a Primary student. Emerson has a passion for writing and does aerial gymnastics (on the silks).
In addition to various freelance projects, I am the curator for the Paly Foundation. http://palyfoundation.org/https://www.facebook.com/PalyFoundation/
Paly Foundation makes conservation-themed exhibits to loan to zoos, aquariums, museums and other facilities. I’m happy to help you write a whole other blog post about it! Between last year and this year, we will be seen by more than 3 million people in almost 20 states around the country. I have been fortunate enough to take each exhibit to Emerson’s previous school to share with the Lower Elementary/Adolescent classrooms and hope to get to do that here as well.
VdM: Do you have any hobbies? How do you and your family enjoy spending your spare time?
CD: As a family, we enjoy traveling, sight seeing, and cultural events. We are avid bird watchers. We are board game junkies and actually cheered when we beat “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.” Other favorite games right now include “Kodama: The Tree Spirits,” “Qwixx,” “King of Tokyo,” while Telestrations remains an all-time favorite.
Charmin – Performer, writer, teacher — improvisation & sketch comedy
Allison – Sports fan and video gamer
Emerson – Audiobook fan and coding/Legos/robots and theater
VdM: How were you introduced to Montessori?
CD: Allison and I lived in Portland, OR to attend college (we both are from “all over”). Allison was the nanny for a coworker of mine (I was working at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). The parents of her charge put him in a Montessori school (Child Peace). When we lived in Phoenix, AZ, we put Emerson in the Montessori school near our house (Aldea). While visiting the school, we asked the headmistress Donna about “student:teacher ratio” and other questions we thought we were supposed to ask. She explained that the Montessori classroom has what’s considered a high student:teacher ratio but explained why:
“In a non-Montessori classroom, there is typically one teacher who controls thirty students. In a Montessori classroom, there are thirty students controlling themselves.”
We were hooked. We felt Montessori was a good fit for Emerson because she enjoyed “working it out” for herself. Since then, she has thrived in the multiple-aged classroom and enjoys inquiry-based learning.
VdM: What are you looking forward to most this school year?
CD: We are looking forward to settling into our new community and meeting people. Emerson is excited about her gorgeous classroom and getting to know her classmates. She spent about 1/2 day in the Upper El classroom last spring (at the Sculpture Garden) and is excited to see everyone again.
Welcome, Charmin, Allison, and Emerson, to the Villa di Maria community! We are thrilled to have you!