The very best part of Villa di Maria is our people. Our community of families, faculty and staff is something to be proud of and something to hold onto during our school’s COVID-19 closure. In this series, We are VdM, we’ll highlight the energies, talents, humor and wisdom of some of our amazing people—and we’ll stay connected!
Today, we’ll meet a family that has been with VdM for over a decade: Meg, Rich, Kellen and Beacan Mottl, and the newest member of their family, Celeste Williams. Kellen and Beacan are VdM alumni, who both currently attend Clayton High School. Celeste is one of the newest VdM students—she joined Mrs. Steinman’s Children’s House just this spring.
Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about you and your family.
Rich: The Mottls are lean-in-to-it-ers and doers. We don’t back away. We work to figure things out.
Meg: We are basically a cast of characters… BOOK CHARACTERS!
Rich is the sole Hogwarts Hufflepuff in our family—full on Cedric Diggory. He seeks those in need of assistance EVERYWHERE WE GO, enthusiastically connects with people EVERYWHERE WE GO, and empathizes with every breathing creature EVERYWHERE WE GO.
Kellen’s spirit character is Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web: gentle, kindhearted, wicked smart, agile, fiercely loyal. Toss in a heaping spoonful of “smart-funny,” and that is Kellen.
Beacan is a blend of Encyclopedia Brown and Curious George—confident, interested in everything, athletic, passionate, independent, witty, and quick thinking. B has always been in perpetual motion with his brain and his body.
Celeste is the spirited and spunky Inge Maria Jensen from When Mischief Came to Town. This gal’s heart is bigger than her body, and her boundless energy is contagious. She wonders, imagines, questions, and loves with her whole being.
As for Meg, Rich once said she reminds him of Olive Kitteridge. Not the most flattering comparison, but I can’t argue…
Kellen: We’re weird.
Beacan: We are crazy. Wack.
Celeste: I love my family.
VdM: How did you find Montessori and what brought you to VdM?
The Mottls: The two-word version: Kathy Thames.
The lots-of-words version: From age two-and-a-half to three, Kellen questioned her daily existence at the play-based preschool she attended way back when. Examples: “I have a play kitchen at home. Why do I come here? I have swings at home. Why do I come here? I do crafts at home. Why do I come here? I have friends at home. Why do I come here?”
Throughout that year, I serendipitously kept running into a former parent from my elementary-classroom teaching days (Kathy Thames) who nudged me to beeline myself over to Villa di Maria Montessori School, convinced that was the place for our family.
Kathy spoke the words, “Villa di Maria Montessori” enough times that we finally scheduled a tour.
All things Villa di Maria Montessori School sparked and amazed and intrigued.
We were ALL IN.
Our oldest stepped foot in Mrs. Milos’s classroom in the fall of 2007 and was thrilled on a cellular level to be in the Children’s House. Beacan clamored after her and joined the VdM community in the fall of 2008. We are currently pinching ourselves daily that Celeste is living the dream at VdM, soaking in all the wonderfulness the Primary Montessori experience has to offer.
VdM: What do you and your spouse do, career-wise?
The Mottls: Rich has been successfully leading the charges at United Surgical Partners for over 13 years as a Vice President of Business Development. The company is based in Dallas and owns over 400 hospitals and surgery centers across the country. Husband Rich travels part of each week, which appeals to his need for constant stimulation and nonstop interaction with a variety of people across all branches of the company.
Meg’s curvy career path has circled back to where it started. She taught 3rd through 7th grades back in the day, then stayed home for 3 years when Kellen and Beacan were tiny, owned a small business for several years, worked at VdM in Admissions for a bit, and is currently gearing up to return to full time classroom teaching this fall.
VdM: Tell us about your typical weekend.
The Mottls: We thrive on a full agenda of activity. Bring on the overscheduling of sports and lessons and “forced family fun”! Swim practices, meets, soccer practices, games, music lessons, gymnastics lessons, mountain biking, brisk walks with the dogs, playground shenanigans, scootering, shooting hoops.
As an entity, our family also struggles with a Starbucks addiction. We frequent said establishments multiple times a day. It’s a problem…
Other than that, individually…
Rich enjoys vino and sinking into the couch at night.
Meg deep dives into books.
Kellen never tires of socializing with friends with any spare minutes.
Beacan alternates between creating music and athletic endeavors.
Celeste imagines, dances, and sings… Rewind. Repeat.
VdM: Tell us something your family is doing to make the most of this extended break?
The Mottls: We’ve been plotting and planning a large vegetable garden to plant this spring and nourish our family through the summer.
We’ve honed our culinary skills in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes from the New York Times food section.
We’ve spent hours each day painting and creating acrylic masterpieces.
We formed a family book club and engaged in thought-provoking weekly discussions.
We’ve each chosen a new language to master, using Duolingo.
Full disclaimer: each statement above is entirely false.
The real scoop:
- Rich has been grounded from work travel. Biggest perk of this break is that Husband Rich is HOME for an extended period of time!
- The scooters, trikes, bikes, and skateboards are logging lots of minutes around the neighborhood and wearing tracks in the sidewalks.
- Hours of crafting with beads, water colors, crayons and clay is a plus.
- The older Mottl crowd has binged on episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine. We just need to laugh—loudly and often—these days.
- Across-the-street-yelling-while-keeping-social-distance conversations with our neighbors are much needed for sanity and all kinds of hysterical.
VdM: A question specifically for Celeste: Which do you like more, ponies or puppies? And why?
Celeste: What did you say? No. I like ponies AND puppies. They’re so cute; they’re so fun to play with. I like real ponies like Prince and pretend ponies like Pinky Pie. I have my own two puppies, Mabes and Otto. Mabes is crabby. Otto is my favorite.
Thank you, Meg, Rich, Kellen, Beacan and Celeste. We can’t imagine Villa di Maria without you and we are so happy your growing family is still a part of our community.
Photos courtesy of the Mottl family.