We are VdM (at a distance): The Jente Family

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 meet Jess, Michael, Sammy and Ellie Jente. Jess joined VdM in 2013 as the assistant in the P1 Children’s House and has been on parental leave to care for her daughter Ellie this school year. Sammy joined us on campus this school year in Mrs. Steinman’s Children’s House.

Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about your family.

Jess: Michael and I met in high school in 2004 (!!) and have been together ever since. We’ve been married almost 9 years. St. Louis has been our home our whole lives except for one lovely year spent in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for Michael’s job. After returning to St. Louis, we eventually bought and renovated Michael’s grandparents house and moved in when I was 1,000 months pregnant with Sammy. Sammy turned three in January and loves swimming, anything train related, riding his bike, going on adventures around town, and spending time with his grandparents and cousins. Sammy started VdM this year in P3, just a couple weeks after his sister, Ellie, was born. Sammy has been such a kind and helpful big brother. He LOVES school and spinning with his friends on the playground. He can’t wait to see Mrs. Steinman and Madame Beth again!

VdM: How did you find Montessori and what brought you to VdM?

Jess: I happened to stumble upon Montessori and VdM the summer before Michael and I moved to Sioux Falls. My friend, Ms. Megan, was looking for an assistant for the Montessori Mornings program to work with Mrs. McAuley. I had just quit a job that wasn’t meant to be in PR and took Megan up on her offer for the summer. I was a long time Camp Pegnita attendee, from ages 5 – 12, and then worked as a counselor many summers in high school. I was so excited to be back, doing something new.

Reghan quickly taught me the ropes of the classroom and I was intrigued to know more. I love how Montessori fosters independence in the child, and watching the children move about the classroom in their special prepared environment is truly magical. When we moved to Sioux Falls, I worked in a more traditional school setting and realized how much I appreciated and agreed with the Montessori method. I came back to VdM the following summer and have been here ever since (except when having babies). Sammy had been on the VdM waitlist since he was born in January 2017!

VdM: What do you and your spouse do, career-wise?

Jess: When I’m not on maternity leave, I work as the assistant in P1 with Mrs. McAuley. It’s the best! Michael is a lawyer, working first as a law clerk, and now at a law firm in downtown St. Louis.

photo credit: Melinda Smith

VdM: What is something your family is doing to make the most of this extended break?

Jess: It’s been so wonderful having everyone together. Michael works crazy long hours most of the time, and Sammy and Ellie are enjoying every minute having their dad home all day.

When we bought our house from Michael’s family, we also inherited a large, attached greenhouse that needed a lot of love. I know (knew) nothing about gardening or greenhouses but this winter I decided our greenhouse needed some TLC. The whole family has spent so much time cleaning and fixing our beloved greenhouse. We still have a ways to go but we have started our seedlings and are getting ready to plant them outside in our garden! Sammy loves planting and helping me dig, discovering worms and insects along the way.

VdM: A question for Sammy – What are you most excited about this summer?

Sammy: I am excited to play in the sprinkler! I like to ride my bicycle in the sprinkler.

Thank you, Jess, Michael, Sammy and Ellie. We can’t wait to see you all again soon!

Uncredited photos courtesy of the Jente family.