We Are VdM: Shannon O’Connell

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 Shannon O’Connell, afternoon assistant in the P1 Children’s House classroom. We are delighted Shannon re-joined our team this Fall! Shannon first worked at VdM as a floater and late stay staff, where she fell in love with the Montessori approach and consequently pursued AMI certification for Primary (ages 3-6 years). She returns to campus with diploma in hand and is a welcome addition to the P1 community!

How did you discover Montessori?

I actually did not know anything about Montessori when I first started working at Villa. I previously was working at School of Rock in Kirkwood where, coincidentally, a lot of VdM families were attending. I have a background in Entertainment and Media Business. I have always worked with children in some capacity as a nanny, swim coach, and working at School of Rock. I wanted to move away from music business and more into working directly with younger children because they make my heart happy. So, I found Villa in 2017 and when I started, I saw a bunch of familiar faces from School of Rock. I started out as a floater and was the lead for Primary/Children’s House late stay. I was subbing for someone who was doing their student teaching for the AMI primary training in P3. While spending time in P3 and seeing Heather/Mrs. Steinman give lessons and seeing the children being so independent made me interested in not only Montessori but doing the AMI training myself. Back in 2019 I attended Silent Journey as a staff member and I was blown away by experiencing the materials the way the children do. I recall telling Robyn that I was applying for AMI training the second I returned home and here I am!
Shannon at the Montessori Training Center in St. Louis.

What is something you love about the Montessori approach?

There are so many things I love about the Montessori approach, but the main thing is that I love that Montessori isn’t only about the academics, it’s about the whole child. As they say in training, we are giving them the keys to the world. It amazes me every single day seeing children achieve functional independence and observing them work on developing their will. I love that Montessori offers grace and courtesy (Grace and Courtesy presentation may include how to greet, how to introduce, how to get the guide’s attention, how to walk around a rug, how to give and receive a present, how to ask someone to observe their work, how to have a polite mealtime conversation etc.). Together, Grace and Courtesy create a human who is socially conscious.

Shannon at the St. Louis Art Museum

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?

My absolute favorite thing to do on the weekend is have a picnic on Art Hill and maybe read a book and then go visit my favorite pieces of art at the Art Museum.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

I was gifted the complete collections of Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne as a child and those were my favorites. I loved the adventures that they all went on, looking for Heffalumps or finding replacements for Eeyore’s tail. Eeyore has always been my favorite character of that bunch.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to produce television (the next Aaron Spelling) or produce movies. Although I didn’t quite make it to Hollywood, I have become the “go to” person for any video needs from anyone in my family, including my nephew.

Shannon in P1 making bouquets with children

What is a favorite memory/quote from the classroom?

I was lucky enough to do my student teaching in P1 in the Spring. I gave multiple children lessons on word problems and seeing them go back and take them out by themselves was so beautiful. A favorite quote from my student teaching in P1 was “You’re going to make a wonderful teacher someday!” So far, this school year, a child had asked me if they could practice the bow frame and I asked if Mrs. Milos had given them a lesson on it yet and the child replied with “No! You did, Silly!” I thought that was quite hilarious, as I did not remember this moment from student teaching, but I’m glad I’m known for the bow frame as it is definitely my favorite material.
Thanks for letting us get to know you better, Shannon! We are so glad to have you back at VdM!!