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 Carrie Tallon, Villa di Maria’s new(ish) Director of Education; you have surely already met her smiling face in the drop-off line bright and early, but she was also here 21 years ago as an Assistant in P2! Also, her two sons attended VdM years ago. She is currently focusing on professional development, curriculum, AMI compliance, recognition and consultations, parent education and overseeing parent-conferences. Read more about Carrie and her deep Montessori roots, and what her favorite part of the Prepared Environment is, below.
Villa di Maria: Welcome back to Villa! We are so glad to have you! Tell us a bit about your history with Villa di Maria.
Carrie Tallon: It seems as though my life has come full circle as I began my Montessori journey at Villa di Maria 21 years ago, in 1996, as an Assistant in Primary 2. It was that experience, assisting Jayna Otte, that changed the trajectory of my life. The following fall I attended the AMI primary training with Dr. Annette Haines in “the little cabin” at Villa di Maria. I moved to Colorado upon completion of the training for a position in a small Montessori school in Colorado Springs and from there, Denver. I was a Guide at the Primary level for three years and a Lower Elementary Guide for three years after attending the AMS Lower Elementary training through the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. My husband Mark and I relocated to Kirkwood in 2003 to raise our children around my rather large family. In 2007 our son Finn came to Villa under the guidance of both Catherine Moore and Reghan McAuley. Our son Kipper followed in his brother’s footsteps and spent his Primary years with Robyn Milos. When Kipper began at Villa, I took a position as a Primary Guide at City Garden Montessori Charter School in Saint Louis City. I was a Guide there for four years, along with holding the position as the Head of Primary for three years. So, here I am, finding myself in a true, full circle moment with Villa di Maria on the horizon again. I am honored, humbled and thrilled to join a team of such outstanding and committed Montessorians and I am excited to be, once again, a part of the Villa di Maria community.
VdM: As a previous Guide for both Primary and Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms, and also as Head of Primary, you must have such a great appreciation for the “big picture” in Montessori. What was it that drew you in to Montessori education at the very beginning?
CT: At the very beginning (and to this day) I was utterly drawn to the Prepared Environment of the Children’s House. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before in terms of a “classroom.” The Children’s House is so unique, it is inviting and stimulating, yet calm and ordered. It is welcoming, joyful and warm. It is so carefully designed and curated by each Guide, bearing in mind the characteristics and qualities of the young child. The materials are so beautiful and intriguing, everything has a place and a purpose in these lovingly and thoughtfully prepared spaces. This brings me to my favorite part of the Prepared Environment… the Guide!!! The Guide is the dynamic link between the environment and the child, together the environment becomes a living one!
VdM: As your sons attended Villa di Maria, do you have any “Montessori Moments” that stand out? In other words, any times outside of school when you were struck by something your children did or said?
CT: Montessori moment?? That’s easy… When my oldest son Finn was around 3 1/2 or so, we were driving down Grand in the city and he said in his tiny voice, from his carseat behind me “Look, mama!! It’s a square based pyramid!! And a SPHERE!!” He had been looking through the window at the buildings as we were driving along and noticed a couple of “Geometric Solids” incorporated into the architecture. It was an outstanding Montessori moment!
VdM: Again, we are so happy to have you here. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
CT: I am so happy and honored to be a part of Villa again! I think what I am most looking forward to this year is moving forward in my new position with the idea of service in mind… meaning how can I best serve the child, their family, the Guides… the whole of the Villa community. In my mind, these relationships are truly partnerships as we work cohesively towards providing the absolute best we possibly can for each child that we have the honor of serving.
Thank you, Carrie! We are honored to have you here at Villa!