As part of our 20-year celebration, students, families, guides and alumni are sharing their Montessori story to highlight the impact of Starwood Schools education. The Molitor-Tuggle family (Duane Molitor, Melethia and Brian Tuggle with Taigen and Livia, Lower Elementary) have been enthusiastic supporters of our school for five years. This is their story:
How did you find Starwood Schools?
I visited numerous schools and asked parents for suggestions. Starwood Montessori was highly recommended to me by two of my close friends who were mothers of Starwood students. My two children began there and transitioned to Starwood Academy when it opened.
Why did you choose Montessori for your family?
I chose Montessori because of what my friends and the Starwood staff shared with me about its differentiation and benefits. They described an experience that was opposite what my family had at another private preschool in Frisco where my 3-year-old son was regularly bitten and scratched by another student. My son's vocabulary was advanced, but most of his classmates couldn't talk. I watched the webcam daily and could see him sitting still at a table most of the time. He was bored with the materials and had few children to communicate with. The Head of School refused to move him to a more advanced class or provide more advanced materials in his class. All students were taught the same plan regardless of interests or comprehension. Also, the Head of School told the parents of the biting child about my son's injuries and agreed with his dad that boys will be boys.
Following the disappointing traditional school experience, I wanted my children to be educated as individuals in a respectful, cooperative and challenging environment. I didn't know what Montessori provided. Fortunately, my friends were eager to explain how successful and positive the multi-age-levels and self-guided approach of Montessori were for their families. I was impressed by their children's vocabulary, confidence, and good behavior. The Starwood staff was excellent at articulating the principles and application of Montessori too. I could easily understand how this had benefitted my friends' children and chose the same path for my own. Having a Starwood community of like-minded parents and faculty is a bonus.
What makes Starwood Schools special to you?
Starwood Schools is special to me because of the relationships that Ms. Hanks and her organization foster among parents, students, and faculty. Families are welcomed into a community that celebrates diversity, individuality, and achievement. Our school values integrity and builds trust. I appreciate that my children's relationships with their guides are consistent by design, and I love that these relationships continue long after the 3 years that Starwood students learn within each level. Their guides remain visible and continue to contribute to our children's education and development in other ways. My children see them in different roles and have continued interactions that are equally positive and influential. Also, Starwood has an extremely low turnover among guides. This is unique. My children feel safe, happy, and confident among the familiar adults. They're in a comfortable environment to explore, ask, and try - knowing that encouragement and support will follow. Parents receive a similar support experience from faculty. They share information in a timely fashion. They're transparent and accommodating. They seek opportunities to get parents involved. Lastly, my children have developed awesome friendships at Starwood! My husband and I have too. I'm never concerned about my children while they're at school. Their education and care are being executed with the best intentions and genuine concern. This is very special to me.
What does your family like best about Starwood Schools?
Our family is in its 5th year at Starwood Schools because there are so many things that we like. We can't narrow the best to less than three. We like the tremendous breadth of topics that our children study each week and how the guides make it interesting for them. During this week alone, our children have been excited to show their work in long division, metaphors, evaporation, volleyball, African art, line graphs, maps of Asia, fractions and more. We like the personal responsibility and independence that our children demonstrate by preparing their lesson plans, managing their time and performing helpful jobs to maintain their Starwood classrooms. The absolute best thing that we like is that our children are super energetic, happy and well when we pick them up every day. They're always racing to share what they did, who they played with, what they ate and the latest lower elementary gossip. They talk about their friends and school all the way home. We sometimes secretly record them to capture these fun moments.
Any favorite “Montessori Moment” thus far?
1. When my son was in his 2nd year of lower elementary, he told me that he was learning about evolution and different types of people shortly after the school year began. Because he is biracial, I asked him what he would say if someone asked him what he was. He replied, "Mommy, I would just say that I'm human and I'm a mammal. You're a mammal too. Right, Mommy?" That was a perfect laugh-out-loud answer!
2. We have a tiny Shih Tzu named Alex. Following his grooming appointment a few days ago - our son (Taigen) said, "Alex, your eyes looked very diminutive before your haircut. I can finally see how big they are!" My husband seriously checked the definition. What 8-year-old says that?
3. I heard our daughter (Livia) playing a complete song without error on her xylophone last night. She told me that she learned how to play it at school. She then started singing a song in Japanese. Our son (Taigen) jumped right in and sang the song with her. Impressive!
Thank you to the Molitor-Tuggle family and our entire school community for your long-lasting support for our schools!
The Molitor-Tuggle family (Duane Molitor, Melethia and Brian Tuggle with Taigen and Livia, Lower Elementary) have been enthusiastic supporters of our school for five years. Read their story!