Who We Are: Kiley and Steve Kozel

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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 the charismatic, musical Kiley and Steve Kozel who share their sacred Sunday night tradition and what they love most about VdM. Enjoy!Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about your family.

Kiley Kozel: We are the lucky and exhausted parents of three little boys. Brixton (5), & Blair (2) are in P3, and Baby Wyn (5 months) is mommy’s sidekick throughout the day along with our 9-year-old, Jack-rat-terrier, Pocket. Brixton is bright, curious, a complex thinking, big feeler, and ridiculously caring oldest brother. Blair somehow has the physical and comedic timing of a seasoned stand-up, accompanied by platinum blonde hair the texture of cotton candy which compliments his overall effervescent spirit. Baby Wyn is nearly perfect as he hasn’t had a tantrum yet. As for Steve and myself, while we are complex, individual human beings, perhaps nothing can explain us more succinctly than our Meyers Briggs: Steve – INTJ, Kiley, ENFP. 100%

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VdM: Can you tell us about your background and education?

KK:  We met at Webster University. Steve graduated with a degree in film (2004) and I graduated with a B.A. in music (2006). Both of us were able to study abroad (Steve, a quarter in Vienna and myself, a semester in Thailand) and we feel the abroad experience is mandatory for our boys’ future education. After college, we played and toured in an indie band for a handful of years before eventually becoming full-fledged adults with a mortgage, a lawn, and a zygote. Or three.

VdM: What do you do career-wise?

KK: Steve works downtown at Osborn Barr as an account planner and I have a piano studio, “Kiley Ko. Piano” teaching private piano lessons as well as “BabyGrands,” a baby music class, out of our home in Rock Hill. I am also returning as the piano accompanist for the Primary Classrooms at Villa this week!

 VdM: Do you have any hobbies? How do you and your family enjoy spending your spare time?

KK: Steve is at his happiest learning, creating, and doing something with his hands. I enjoy interior design & decorating, occasionally writing in my blog, and reading recipes I will never make. Brixton and Blair spend a lot of time drawing and coloring and are diving headfirst into an obsession with Rescuebots.

Wyn is yummy and wonderful and loves almost everything except the unfortunate, occasional bowel movement. Together, our family enjoys hiking, playing music, walking our neighborhood, cooking, eating, exploring new restaurants and visiting with friends and family. Brixton often likes to help daddy with any building or cleaning projects around the house (thank you, Montessori!) and Blair likes to rub dirt on his face.
Perhaps our most sacred moment of the week is our Sunday night, “Pizza Picnic” where a sheet is spread in the living room, pjs are the suggested dress code, and we eat sliced cucumbers (somehow this has become part of the ritual?) and frozen pizzas (preferably Jack’s or Bar Pizza) and watch whatever new, free, movie is on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

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VdM: How were you introduced to Montessori?

KK: We were introduced by Meg Mottl, who was a VdM cheerleader-extraordinaire. She also gave me two books on Montessori which sit lovingly on our shelf, untouched. Because, time.

Regardless, I feel I make my best decisions with a quick whim of my gut. I originally began as an accompanist at VdM before we had children attending, then after a small baby-related-hiatus, I am back. Whenever reflecting on Villa and the Montessori education I always feel like I won the lottery. I am so grateful for this opportunity for my children and to provide this type of foundation for their lives.
VdM: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

KK: We are excited to watch our boys grow together in Mrs. Steinman’s classroom, and especially to watch Blair begin to transform there (language, skills, interests, socially, independently, etc.) the way we watched Brix. We are also excited to continue to get to know VdM families and develop relationships with other parents and children. We have made some really wonderful friends from VdM, which is perhaps reason 1,794 why we love it here.

Thank you, Kozel family! We are so happy you are here with us!