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 Annie and Dave Miller, and their four children: Tiernan, Seamus, Oscar, and their newest addition: Poppy. Below, they share their introduction to Montessori, what they love about Montessori, and the sweetest story about how they met!
Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about your family.
Annie Miller: There are six of us now! Tiernan is 8, Seamus is 6, Oscar is 2 1/2, and Poppy is 13 weeks. Our kids were born in Belleville, IL, where we lived for 5 years. We moved to University City 3 1/2 years ago because we love the St. Louis area so much. We love the restaurants, Forest Park, and our current neighborhood. We grew up in Belleville; my husband was actually my next door neighbor growing up! Though we went to different schools, Dave and I just really always got along and had the same friend groups. We didn’t start dating until after college. I broke up with my boyfriend in the morning, and by the afternoon, Dave was calling me to ask me out! He was very persistent, and now here we are, four kids later!
We both grew up in family-owned businesses; Dave is in the wholesale insurance business that his great, great grandfather started. He gets to go to London every other year, which is very cool! On my side of the family, we own a property management company called East County Enterprises. We manage several businesses, including the Grizzlies, an independent minor league baseball team. We’re really in what’s called the “dinner theatre” business; there’s a baseball game going on, but there’s also a lot of entertainment. It’s a very family-friendly, inexpensive way to enjoy a baseball game and some entertainment. My dad and brother both played professional baseball, for the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants, and my brother played for the White Sox. We also manage night clubs, real estate, and about 20 different businesses. We are very family friendly and it’s been wonderful to be able to take time off for the baby be able to step back in when I’m ready.
VdM: How were you introduced to Montessori?
AM: When I was pregnant with Tiernan, I heard about Montessori and thought it was so interesting. I visited St. Claire Montessori in Illinois and I was so fascinated by how quiet the room was, how interesting the materials were, and was blown away by how polite the children were. I decided that I wanted that for our children.
VdM: What do you love most about Montessori?
AM: I love that Montessori is so universal, that it has been around for so long, that it works all across the world. I want so badly for my children to be independent and to be their own people. Montessori allows children to live up to their full potential. All three of my boys are doing Montessori, and they are all doing it their own way. Seamus comes home and still wants to work, he wants to continue the math that he worked on earlier at school; I see the lifelong learning aspect of Montessori in all my children. Oscar’s need for order right now is completely being met; he lines up his knife and fork and napkin, he lines up the Jenga pieces when we’re playing. It’s amazing to see all the developmental milestones.
I also love that Montessori allows the child to go back and review things whenever they need to; the materials are all there, there’s consistency. There’s an overlap of materials that is so special. I also love our community because of the diversity of the families at Villa di Maria. I want my kids to know kids from all over, with different ways of life, rather than a homogenous group where everyone is the same.
VdM: Do you have any hobbies? How do you and your family enjoy spending your spare time?
AM: We all love sports! Dave golfs, and I play tennis. I played tennis in college, and recently I’ve started taking my older two boys over to the tennis courts in our neighborhood two mornings a week before school. It’s a great way for them to burn off some energy before school.
I’m also an artist. I enjoy painting and creating mixed media pieces. My grandmother and her three sisters were all artists. She taught me a special technique in preserving flowers, so I preserve people’s wedding bouquets and other special flowers. I love having a creative outlet.
Thank you, Annie, for sharing your lovely family with us, and congratulations on your newest addition, Poppy – she is just a delight!