Who We Are: Tricia Jöstlein

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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 Tricia Jöstlein (rhymes with “coastline,” starts with a y sound, our new Reading Specialist. Tricia is already a familiar face within the VdM community, as she has is the busy, active, engaged parent of two children who attend school here: Klaus, in Upper Elementary, and Max, who just entered Lower Elementary. Below, a bit about Tricia and her transition from Montessori enthusiast to Reading Specialist!

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Tricia and her husband Thomas are active VdM community members,  offering up their time and knowledge when possible. Tricia completed the AMI Elementary training in 2016 from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. She has also been trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction, which combines multi-sensory techniques with the structure of the English language. The approach incorporates the three learning pathways: auditory, kinesthetic and visual, and benefits all types of learning styles. Tricia, with her Montessori and Orton-Gillingham training, is able to weave together the best of both worlds to provide outstanding support. Welcome, Tricia!

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Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about your introduction to Montessori.

Tricia Jöstlein: When we were looking for preschool options for Klaus, I stumbled upon a book about Montessori at a friend’s house. I was immediately drawn to this approach. Allowing a child to follow his interests and to achieve mastery by manipulating beautifully designed materials seemed to me like a perfect approach to education. A few years later, we were exploring options for elementary. I came to Villa for the Silent Journey and it took me all of 30 seconds to know this was the right place for our family.

VdM: How did this transition into an interest in the Reading Specialist position here at Villa?

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TJ: At the time Klaus started primary, my husband, Thomas, had just landed his dream job with the St. Louis Symphony and I was a freelance musician (we both play the French horn). In 2014, I began a three-summer training program at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. While I was definitely passionate about Montessori, I wasn’t at all sure what I would do with my training. Up to that point, I had been a professional musician for all of my adult life. Would I teach full time and hang up the instrument I’d played since I was 10? Ultimately, the reading specialist position at VdM opened up and it’s a great fit for me. My life is certainly full! I am adjunct teacher of Applied Music at Webster Univeristy, and I play as an extra with the SLSO as well as other local groups like Chamber Project St. Louis, Winter Opera and The Heartland Festival Orchestra in Washington, IL. (Here is a Youtube video of Thomas and me playing)

VdM: What do you love most about Montessori, as it relates to your own children, and to the broader community in general?

TJ: I love how Montessori requires children to think for themselves and to try new things without excessive fear of failure.

VdM: Do you have any hobbies?

TJ: People imagine Thomas and me sitting around playing horn duets all day, and while he’s my favorite person to play next to, we rarely play together at home. (If you’re around Villa at lunch time, you may hear me practicing in the cabin.) My love for books far exceeds my time to read them; I have quite a stack (mostly nonfiction) on my bedside waiting to be read. I love short stories, poetry, number puzzles, Scrabble, and friendly games of poker. I actually like writing letters, and I’ve saved nearly every letter ever sent to me. Through trial and error, I’ve become a pretty decent cook. A couple times a year, I get the Martha Stewart bug and dive into a crazy baking or craft project. Last year I figured out how to make picture-perfect French macaroons!

VdM: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

TJ: I’m really excited about developing lessons for different levels of readers and spellers. Since I love word-play, I see myself as developing the next generation of Scrabble champs! I’m playing a faculty recital at Webster University on October 9, and my family is looking forward to a trip to Germany over winter break. Most of all, I always look forward to watching my children grow into their own very interesting people.

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Welcome, Tricia! We are thrilled to have you on the VdM team!