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 Jaime, Chris, Tommy and Oliver Macke who joined VdM in 2015. Tommy is in his third year in the Checkerboard Lower Elementary classroom and Oliver just started this year in the Young Children’s Community.
Villa di Maria: Tell us a bit about you and your family.
The Mackes: We are a family of four—Chris, Jaime, Tommy (8 years old in Checkerboard) and Oliver (2.5 years old in YCC). We live in Fox Park in St. Louis city with our two cats, Murray and Zero, and guinea pig Tootsie. I (Jaime) grew up in Wood River, IL, about 25 minutes away, and Chris grew up in the city. When we met, I started spending more time in the city and really loved it, so we decided to stay. We bought a 130 year-old house that seems to need constant attention 😊, but we love the old architecture and we have wonderful neighbors. Our extended families are also all in the St. Louis metro area and we’re all pretty close. It gets complicated during the holidays (although, this may be the quietest holiday we’ve ever had!), but we love that the boys get to grow up playing with their cousins.
VdM: How did you find Montessori and what brought you to VdM?
Jaime: We found Villa before we really knew much about Montessori 😊. Tommy was 3 and we had looked at some other preschools and mainstream-type schools but they didn’t feel like a good fit—we were looking for something different. It was also really important to us to find a place that extended all the way through elementary—we didn’t want to school-hop every few years. Villa had popped up in a few of our searches and so we decided to check it out. I still remember that our first conversation with Laura was so wonderful and then when we toured the school and saw one of the primary classes at work, it was exactly what we were looking for.
We’ve learned more about Montessori over the years through Villa’s parent talks, reading books and meeting with the guides. The best thing, though, was that we attended the Silent Journey a few years ago. It was really amazing getting to be in each of the environments and experience it for ourselves. For us, it really pulled together everything that we had learned and read and completed the picture for us to understand what Montessori is really about.
VdM: Tell us about your backgrounds, what do you and your spouse do career-wise?
Jaime: I studied Spanish at SIUE and abroad at a university near Mexico City; I also have a Masters in English from SIUE. I work at a pharmaceutical company as a global business director, but language is still my true passion! Chris received his degree in Business at UMSL and was previously also in the corporate world, working in a global sales management position. But both of us having jobs with lots of international travel was getting to be too much for our family. So last summer, Chris exchanged his corporate job for a stay-at-home dad title, and we haven’t looked back! I have no idea how we would have gotten through this year if we hadn’t made that change. Chris’s passion is acting and movie production, so he and some local contacts formed a partnership and they’re working on producing a film.
VdM: Do you have any hobbies? How do you and your family enjoy spending your spare time?
Jaime: We travel a lot (or, we did) and it’s our favorite thing to do! We love taking the boys to new places. Our family also loves the water, so we do a lot of swimming year round. At home, we walk to parks when the weather cooperates and when it doesn’t, we do a lot of game and movie nights. Both boys have a LOT of energy, so we try to stay busy 😊.
VdM: What are you most looking forward to this school year?
Jaime: We are honestly just so happy that our boys have the opportunity to be in school. Distance learning, even with one of us being a full-time stay-at-home parent, was challenging for our family, and Tommy really loves being in his classroom, working with his peers. We’re also super excited that Oliver has been able to join Villa in the YCC. We were so excited when the program was announced and we couldn’t have been happier when we learned that he would be with Reghan and Jess every day (Tommy had a wonderful experience in their primary environment!). Oliver really loves being at Villa and has been thriving in the new environment!
VdM: A question for Tommy – What is one of your favorite memories of Villa di Maria, so far?
Tommy: When I moved up to Lower Elementary and found out that I was in the same class as my friends!
Thank you, Jaime, Chris, Tommy and Oliver!
Photos courtesy of the Macke family, Melissa LeBeau and Carrie Tallon.