The very best part of Villa di Maria is our people. Our community of families, faculty and staff is something to be proud of. In this series, We are VdM, we’ll highlight the energies, talents, humor and wisdom of some of our amazing people. Today we’ll feature the Thralls: Danielle, Bryan, Maggie and Elizabeth who joined the VdM community in 2015. You have likely seen or talked to Danielle and Bryan as they have attended (and/or volunteered at) nearly all of our community events over the years. Maggie is now a third-year student in Ms. Megan’s Checkerboard classroom and Elizabeth is a first-year in Ms. Sarah’s Racks & Tubes classroom.
Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about you and your family.
Danielle Thrall: My name is Danielle. I am from St. Louis originally. I went to Lutheran South for high school (typical STL question) and Fontbonne University and received my degree in Early childhood education. Bryan and I met on a dating website 13 years ago. We went on our first date that lasted 5 hours and knew from that point on we would be together! Our family lives in Affton with our cat Sophie and fish Snowball.
Both Maggie and Elizabeth have taken swim classes since they were babies and are currently enrolled in gymnastics. Both girls love the family traditions we create such as doing what we are thankful for every night at dinner, putting up our holiday decorations together, having a cookie baking night, and this year we added a new tradition of placing wreaths at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery. Family is extremely important to us and we love to spending time together no matter what we are doing.
VdM: What do you and your spouse do, career-wise?
Danielle: My first job was working at Truman Elementary in the Lindbergh district; it was there that my passion for Special Education began. I decided to become a paraprofessional and went back to school to get my Masters in Special Education. Currently I work at Crestwood Elementary as a K-5 Cross Categorical teacher. I work with students on the Autism spectrum, students with intellectual disabilities, students who have Cerebral Palsy, students with emotional disturbance, and those that utilize communication devices. Though my job is trying, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my students and what they have taught me through the last 10 years.
My husband Bryan is from Roseburg, Oregon, where his family still resides. He came to St. Louis to attend Washington University where he received his bachelors and masters degree in Computer Science. He currently works at World Wide Technology developing software.
VdM: How did you find Montessori and what brought you to VdM?
Danielle: My college courses at Fontbonne introduced me to Montessori, and we wanted our children to have the hands-on learning and important life skills that Montessori teaches. We came to VdM because I happened to be driving by the school and researched it online, took a tour and felt right at home.
VdM: What has been your favorite family vacation?
Danielle: We can’t decide on just one. We had an amazing vacation at Disney World and Vero Beach, Florida with my extended family and Bryan’s mom a couple years ago (19 people in total, to be exact). It was Maggie and Elizabeth’s first time to Disney and the ocean. We also spent a great week in Tucson, Arizona with Bryan’s mom, sister and her family when Maggie was about 2.5 and Elizabeth was 3 months old. We were able to go to the desert museum and swim in the pool.
VdM: A question specifically for Maggie & Elizabeth: If you joined the circus, what would your circus act be and why?
Maggie: I would walk the tightrope because it would be fun.
Elizabeth: I would be an elephant rider because it would be fun.
Thank you, Danielle, Bryan, Maggie and Elizabeth. We are grateful to have you in the VdM community!
Family photos provided by the Thralls.