Calling All Parents – VdM Children’s Houses are Now Enrolling!

It’s been a couple of months since we moved off campus to keep our families safe from the spread of COVID-19. We have missed seeing our families on campus every day, missed the hum and activity of Montessori children working and growing together. It is a beautiful thing to witness and we cannot wait (truly, cannot wait!) to all be together again.

There has been one positive thing to come out of all this—we now know for sure (there never was much doubt) that our community is the best. Our faculty and staff have come together in innovation, creativity and hard work to create distance learning plans that have kept our students motivated to keep learning. And our parents… well, they are rock stars. They have thrown themselves into this new reality, while managing their own stress and uncertainty, and have collaborated with our guides to ensure that their children have stayed engaged with their school and community.

So now we are calling on that collaborative spirit to ask our parents to help us keep our community strong and growing, and to pass this news along: our Children’s Houses are now enrolling for the 2020-2021 school year!

During a typical year, spring brings many prospective families to our campus for tours. This year, we have not been able to give a tour, to introduce VdM to a new and wonderful family, since March 13. And we have missed out on meeting many new families.

Villa di Maria families have always been our best recruiters, our strongest advocates, and we know we can get our open spots filled with your help. If you know anyone looking for a lovely school for their young child, please send them to our website to request a tour. Or, better yet, share this post!

During social distancing, a prospective family can set up a conversation, a virtual tour and/or an on-campus tour that follows social distancing protocols. They will have the chance to ask their questions about our school and Montessori and tell us all about their children.

Thank you all for not keeping VdM a secret and for supporting us by spreading the word. We can’t wait to see you—and to meet our new families!—in the fall. Until then, stay healthy!

Complete admissions information, including procedures and fees can be found here.

Photos courtesy of Melinda Smith.

Villa di Maria does not discriminate on the basis of race, skin color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

We are VdM (at a distance): The Cronan 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 JoAnne, Kyle, James and Caroline Cronan, who joined VdM in 2015. James is in his second year in the Racks & Tubes Lower Elementary classroom and Caroline is going into her culminating year in Mrs. Steinman’s House.

Villa di Maria: Where are you from and what brought you to St. Louis?

The Cronans: JoAnne is a St. Louis native and Kyle grew up in the bootheel of Missouri, in a small town called Portageville. He came up to StL after finishing his undergrad at Southeast Missouri State and a few years later he decided to go back to school at University of Missouri St. Louis to study Piano and get a music degree. That’s where we met, because Jo was there to study cello. We’ve never really played any duets though. Hmm.

We always joke that we met in Dr. Ott’s 8:00 am music theory class and the rest was history… because immediately after Dr. Ott’s class we had to rush across campus to get to Music History by 9:00. That’s when Jo got introduced to Kyle’s sweet 1989 Camaro.

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

JoAnne: In orchestra at UMSL I met an amazing friend Katrina, a kooky and amazing violist from Tacoma Washington and a proud product of Montessori. She planted the seed, and then on maternity leave I read a lot about it and fell in love. I sort of secretly decided that we would do Montessori if we could.

I went back to work and we found a babysitter we and James love so so much. She does in-home preschool, and with my long hours (I was a CPA by then working 14 hour days in tax season) we had no idea how we’d be able to fit our life into school hours anyway, so I almost gave up the idea. Then I landed a sweet new job in mid-August and the stars aligned. Villa still had an opening, so I came for a tour with Laura.

I just saw the beautiful campus in Camp Pegnita mode, a quick glimpse of the Montessori Mornings children doing all the things in their swimsuits (heart eyes), and Laura handed me the Montessori Madness book of course, but I was already sold. And then I told Kyle he was sold, and he was sold too! Haha. He went along with it, but he became really sold when Caroline started and he saw his baby girl doing all the things.

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

The Cronans: Jo is the Chief Financial Officer at Logos School, a therapeutic alternative middle and high school in Olivette. Kyle is—get ready—the Associate Director of Graduate Financial Aid at the Olin Business School of Washington University. Phew. He especially loves working on the yellow ribbon program, wherein WashU matches the GI Bill benefits so that military veterans can attend Olin.

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

The Cronans: Mostly we’re just trying to say “why not” to things we never had time for (made time for… ), like camping out on our own deck, baking stuff, painting the front sidewalk, riding bikes, washing cars, and doing experiments we saw on YouTube like Soda+Mentos and Elephant Toothpaste.

VdM: A question for James and Caroline – Would you rather live on a beach or in the mountains? And why?

The Cronans: Caroline definitely wants to live at the beach. She is a sun goddess and loves swimsuit fashion. She said she could build sandcastles and find mermaid crowns.

James admittedly loves the beach too, but would choose to live in the mountains because he loves dirt and adventure, wild animals, and the cool mountain breezes.

Thank you, JoAnne, Kyle, James and Caroline for sharing your lives with us today on the blog and at VdM every day.

Photos courtesy of the Cronan family.

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.

We are VdM (at a distance): The Desai 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 and something to hold onto during our school’s pandemic 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 Padmanabh, Roopa and Aditri Desai. The Desais joined VdM in 2018, and Aditri is currently a first-year in the Racks & Tubes Lower Elementary classroom.

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

Padmanabh: We are a family of three—Padmanabh, Roopa and Aditri (Adu, she goes to Racks & Tubes). We live in a beautiful neighborhood of Ellisville, MO.

Roopa: Me and Padmanabh grew up in India. Padmanabh‘s work brought us in United States in 2011. Adu was born in Illinois. Padmanabh‘s work kept taking us different places. Before coming  to St.Louis, we lived in Illinois and California. As a family, we love exploring places, traveling and cooking/baking. We also love going to farms to pick fruit and vegetables. One of the things we all miss since we moved to St. Louis is beautiful California beaches. Going to the beach almost every weekend was our go-to thing to do!

We love St.Louis. It’s a great place to bring up a family. Taking walks with Adu to the library through the trail is a favorite thing to do in summer. She has recently learned crochet and practicing almost everyday! She misses going to YMCA for her swim lessons and practice and is looking forward to some swim time in summer.

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

Padmanabh: When we moved to St.Louis, Adu was almost 2 and we were in search of preschool for her. We heard about Montessori through someone in our extended family. From there on Roopa looked up and did quite a bit of research and the more we learnt about Montessori the more convincing it was for us. As parents, we liked a different style than traditional style of education. Hence, Adu started going to Montessori since she was about 25 months old.

Adu went to a different Montessori school before joining VdM. When we moved to Ellisville, we looked for other Montessori schools in nearby area and we found VdM. After a couple of tours, extensive discussions with Laura, we thought VdM would be the place for Adu. She joined VdM in P3 with Mrs. Steinman and last year Adu moved to Racks & Tubes with Ms. Sarah.

Roopa: We love getting lessons at parent-education meetings and are always amazed how concepts can be uniquely presented through Montessori materials.

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

Padmanabh: I work as a supply chain solution architect in one of the world’s biggest food/pet food companies based here in St. Louis. Roopa recently started her volunteer work at UMSL. Before coming to United States, she used to work in information & technology field and later she chose to a be a homemaker.

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

Padmanabh: Trying hard not to lose it!!! But in all honesty, we (mainly Roopa and Adu) have been trying different things like arts & crafts, planting and besides Adu’s online school, we are baking or cooking a lot of different things and having fun.

Roopa: The extended break has given us a great opportunity to connect with our family back in India. Before this we used to talk only on weekends, we’ve been calling our families almost everyday now. Adu is having a great time talking, reading aloud and doing magic tricks with her grandparents. Also, we are watching a lot of baking/cooking shows and videos.

VdM: A question for Adu – If you could snap your fingers and go anywhere in the world for one day, where would you go, and why?

Adu: Of course India, because that is where my grandparents live and my cousins’ parents and cousins live.

Thank you, Padmanabh, Roopa and Adu! We are so happy to have you in the VdM community!

Photos courtesy of the Desai family.