Circus Night!

Screen Free Week brought one of Villa di Maria’s favorite community gatherings – Circus Night!

The weather was just warm enough to enjoy snow cones – yay!

Getting into the circus state of mind with red noses!

We were joined by some seriously skilled face painters!

And, a perennial favorite, balloon animals (and other creations!).

This year Circus Night fell on the same day as Give STL day, and we celebrated reaching (and surpassing!) our goal by … giving our esteemed Head of School a pie in the face! She came prepared (read: she knew we’d knock this day of giving out of the park!) and took it like a champ.

Circus performers entranced their audience – laughter, giggles, and joy ensued!

Perhaps the best part of the night was just hanging out with friends and enjoying our beautiful campus on a perfect night!

  The joy of Circus Night was captured brilliantly by the one and only Melinda Smith. Thank you Melinda!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

Coming off a fabulously successful Give STL Day (thanks to all of you!), let’s take a look at teamwork and collaboration at Villa di Maria.

In Montessori we talk a lot about individuality. Children working at their own pace, children being met where they are, children learning through topics that interest them… But, collaboration is vital to any community’s success and a crucial life skill for individuals.

Opportunities to practice teamwork – hand in hand with opportunities to practice negotiating the difficulties that can arise when working with others – are omnipresent in the Montessori environment. These experiences and the tools that children gain from them, prepare children for life beyond school.

From carrying heavy objects to research to experiments, teamwork makes the dream work! We know this for our children, and we see it in our greater Villa di Maria community. Thank you for being part of our team!

Photo credit to Jessie Braud and Melinda Smith.

Bread Baking!

In Ms. McAuley’s Children’s House the children have taken biscuit-making by storm. Ingredients are gathered and mixed, the dough is kneaded, biscuits formed and baked. This work is worthwhile on so many levels from strengthening the hand to supporting functional independence, but the smell alone makes the endeavor worth the effort!

Take a look … and be inspired to do some baking at home with your family!

Ingredients are gathered and added to the bowl.

Everything is carefully mixed together.

Scraping the spoon to get all the dough possible to work with!


Cutting out the biscuits.

Biscuits are then baked (with adult help!) and are ready to be enjoyed. Thank you Ms. McAuley for sharing your biscuit making lesson with us!

Thank you Melinda for sharing your photos which so perfectly tell the story of baking in the Children’s House.

Gearing up for Give STL Day!

Scree-Free Week is full on at VdM! The Book Fair is going strong, and all fingers (and toes!) are crossed that the weather allows for a perfect Circus Night. This year we have the added bonus of participating in Give STL Day during this special week.

By now you’ve likely been asked to participate and seen a few reminders about Wednesday, May 1. For some added inspiration let’s take a look back at our post about the importance of giving. This post ran at the beginning of the year when we launched The Fund for Villa di Maria. The message about the importance of giving is the same. We’re not working toward chickens anymore (we are enjoying them on campus!) but we are working toward a new playground! Our thanks in advance for your continued support!

Walking through Villa di Maria’s campus is striking to experience. Growth is visible in the new facilities; the Magic Circle beckons with its inviting benches; there is no shortage of space to run, play and explore. Look inside any of the buildings and you’re met with stunning classrooms full of beautiful, well-crafted materials. Best of all, inside and out there are children who are thriving in these environments which have been diligently set up to meet their needs. This is truly a place of great joy.

Villa di Maria is lucky to have an active and supportive community that brings the Montessori vision to reality. One of the many facets of our community is that we collectively make seemingly impossible things possible. This includes supporting the school’s long-standing commitment to being as affordable as possible. As tuition does not cover the cost of all that Villa di Maria provides, we have kicked off The Fund for Villa di Maria and are asking that you join us in supporting the future of our school.  Below Jade Venditte, VdM’s Director of Development, Diversity and Inclusion answers some frequently asked questions around The Fund.

What is The Fund for Villa di Maria?

The Fund for Villa di Maria is an annual giving campaign raising money for the school’s current-year operating expenses. Gifts to The Fund make up the difference between what tuition covers and the actual cost of running the school. These dollars pay teacher salaries and benefits, classroom materials, continuing education, caring for the grounds and necessities such as toilet paper and light bulbs!

My family is already paying tuition. What does my child get when we donate money as well?

Gifts are necessary because tuition does not cover the cost of everything we offer at Villa di Maria. It supports the people and programs that make Villa di Maria so special. This means exceptionally trained guides and directresses (aka teachers). Beautiful environments. Authentic Montessori materials. Real-world experiences.

 Wait, we aren’t simply raising money for a chicken coop?

Nope. The school needs to raise much more than a chicken coop. BUT! Fundraising should be FUN! By coming together to close the tuition gap, we are strengthening our community tangibly, but also creating a sense of collective impact. It’s motivating to have a goal and fun for the children to see that when we all work together, we can achieve great things! The chickens are a reward that is meaningful and will impact care of the environment for years to come!

How does financial aid fit into the fundraising picture?

Your gifts help VdM offer the financial aid that supports an economically diverse student body. The Fund for Villa di Maria is raising money for operating costs, and that means that the school has more funds available to offer financial aid. Your gifts make the school affordable to a wider range of students, bringing the benefits of social and economic diversity to the community .

How much difference can my gift make?

As a small independent school, VdM has many fewer supporters than a university or a larger charity. Your gifts to Villa di Maria are an investment that truly has a high return.  And, because the number of people who will give is small but the need is large, every gift counts even more.

Note: This content is inspired by the National Association of Independent School’s publication, The Gifts That Keep On Giving: Frequently unasked questions about why your independent school wants both tuition and a donation.

Many thanks to Melinda Smith for sharing her beautiful photos.

Earth Day!

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
-Rabindranath Tagore

Villa di Maria’s annual Earth Day festivities were a huge hit with our Children’s Houses. April 22 was a fabulous morning to be outside in the dirt – and this day was just the beginning! These plants and flowers will be tended and enjoyed through the rest of the school year and into the summer.

Preparing to sow a row of seeds.
It’s going to be a row of carrots!

Teamwork helps when moving dirt.

Prepping the window boxes for planting.

Examining the root structure with Ms. McAuley before planting.


Here’s hoping we all get the chance to get dirty and plant with our children!