Magnolia Montessori has some news! As our school evolves its purpose, we are sad to announce that one of our teacher-leaders, Clare Gervasi, will be stepping down at the end of this school year as co-head of school. They will be relocating to Chicago with their family for new and exciting adventures there. We wish them the best as they follow their purpose!
This means that Magnolia is shifting and has a growth opportunity. Whitney will be head of school by herself next year, surrounded by a team of three talented educators and Magnolia families who will support her and the school. Magnolia is in a process of discernment about who will fill the role of co-head and how to solidify that Magnolia thrives going forward. We are actively looking for an co-head of school who is Montessori trained and who wants to step into this leadership role long-term. We are also looking for broader and deeper community support on the financial level to ensure Wildflower's sustainability and growth in Louisville. If we can find this leadership and support, we look forward to growing more beautiful, neighborhood Montessori schools that Louisville needs and deserves.
Thank you for all the love and enthusiasm you have shown for our school thus far. We look forward to deepening our ties to community through new commitments and opportunities in the year to come. Check out our Teacher and Board Bios on our updated website!
Whitney, Clare, Bettina, Matthew, and Diana
The Magnolia Montessori Team
Hello Magnolia Montessori Community!
The first week of September has been a truly inspiring one for our school. Last Monday and Tuesday we hosted open-houses to introduce ourselves and our new space to the families around us. We were thrilled (and a little surprised) to have such a big turn-out! We met families we have been talking to for months, families who live in the neighborhood and just noticed our sign go up, and families who have been following us on social media and wanted to come see what we are all about. Some folks had toddlers, some were expecting, and others are just curious to see what Magnolia is all about and be a part of it. THANK YOU for sharing open house with us if you came. To see our space filled with little ones, with their hands on the materials we've made, initiates our new home with love.
We talked about the need for community and the principles of Magnolia Montessori. We were pleased to hear that folks expecting children, or with children too young to attend, would still join us for our open, monthly parent education potlucks, and be a part of this growing parent community around us. Don't forget to sign up for our calendar and subscribe to our events on Facebook to get notified about when those happen!
If you attended our open house and have not yet made contact electronically, please send us an email or fill out a contact form on our website. We want to know more about you and your family, and how we can be together in community.
On Wednesday we collected the last pieces of information for our childcare licensure application and drove to Frankfort to hand it in and shake hands with the person who will read it. On Thursday, we had a mock licensing consultation to make sure our space is ready for the state to approve it for children. Every step of the way we are reminded that we are pioneers. Each person from each agency that approves a childcare center's progress will note to us, "I've never seen anything like this." They have found us difficult to regulate. We are not a school house with many classrooms, a bureaucracy with a chain of command, or a for-profit start-up with aspirations to build an empire. When they look at regulations, they usually read in a way that doesn't include our vision, our actual space, and our qualifications. It is clear that we are pushing the limits for each person that walks in, inviting them to expand how they view business, community, and early education. While this is an opportunity and a charming process, it takes finesse and patience. We are hopeful because from what we are hearing, the license will come through a bit more quickly than we expected. But just to be safe (and realistic according to our experience so far) we are estimating our open date to be 4 weeks from now. (First or second week of October, in other words.)
Until then, we invite all families in our community to continue to drop in at Magnolia and spend time in our space. We want to get to know you and the youngest members in our school, and for you to get to know each other. For those enrolling, it is a good opportunity for your child to get comfortable in the space and with us. We look forward to seeing you in this next part of the process!
written by Clare, originally in Feb. 2016 and recently updated.
It must have been during my training as a doula, before I had a child of my own, that I first read the adage that “Peace on Earth begins at home.” The simple quote resonated with my deepest sense of what I know to be true, and was only reinforced through my research into conception, pregnancy and birth, through such books as Birth Without Violence by Frederick Leboyer, or Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.
I know it is true that “Peace on Earth begins at home,” because I’m living proof of it. I grew up in an urban intentional community of social activists in the 1980s who lived together in a low income neighborhood and worked on a local and global scale to help people suffering different forms of oppression. It was a tight-knit, post-Vatican II / liberation theology Catholic community of mostly white, mostly educated hippyish folks from all over the country who bought up real estate in a run-down neighborhood of Cincinnati and planted a church there. I grew up feeling a sense of belonging to an entire tribe of people. All the kids played in the neighborhood together, while all the adults had prayer meetings and potlucks and drum circles. My friends’ parents’ rules and words carried almost as much weight as my own parents’, and I felt comforted and cared for by all the adults equally.
The community was called New Jerusalem, and while it was a religiously based self-organization of people, the principles I internalized from that childhood experience extend far beyond the ideals of liberation theology. As I grew up into my own spirituality and politics, that sense of belonging, of community, has never left me. From my unique experience of growing up for a time outside of the cisheterosexist nuclear family model of 'one dad, one mom, and 2.5 biologically related children,' I was able to see the possibility for life beyond white American, middle class expectations of family, despite being raised in the midwestern United States.
Understanding how family can be different helped me be able to imagine that other things could be different in our world too. From there, it was only a hop, skip and a jump for me to begin identifying with anti-capitalist politics. Its values of autonomy, cooperation, self-organization, consent and mutual aid aren’t just ideals for me; I’ve seen them work in my own life. And I’ve seen them reproduced in my own life as a parent.
When I became a mother, I came to understand the meaning of community from the other (grown-up) side. The utter necessity of it, not just in raising a child, but in raising a mother. Creating family requires community. “It takes a village” applies as much to raising parents as it does to raising children. I doubt I would have given up on parenting altogether, but I am sure my child’s quality of life would be worse, and the quality of our relationship would less rich.
Normative societal scripts in white, middle class America indicate that parents should look at their children and see themselves reflected back. This is possibly some ridiculous, cruel cloning fantasy, or at the very least a manifestation of a biodeterminist, patriarchal, nuclear model of kinship. However, when I look at my child, I don’t see a mini-me. I don’t congratulate myself on how great he is (as if I could take responsibility for his actions, not to mention his inherent, individual nature); on the contrary, when I look at him, I see the fruits of the labor of so many hundreds of people who have poured their time, effort, money, attention, and love into him. He is so loved. And so am I. I see the support others have shown--beyond support: some kind of collective desire to see us succeed--reflected in his twinkling eyes, in his smile, in his healthy body, his strong voice, his quick wit. By trusting in community to take care of me, I am able to take care of my kid. When I was a child, I thought all the adults took care of all the children. Now that I am a mother, I understand that all the adults take care of each other, and thus the children thrive.
In other words, now that I am a parent, “Peace on Earth begins at home” has taken on a new meaning. It doesn’t mean that it’s my responsibility as a mother to condense all the peacefulness and somehow pour it into my little tabula rasa so that magically, or mechanically, a peaceful person is produced. No. Rather, it means that in accepting and welcoming community in our lives, our homes become peaceful. Mutual aid and support breed peace in parents’ hearts, and our children feel that peace, safety and love.
The most current manifestation in my life of the belief that “peace on earth begins at home” comes in the form of the school that I am building in Old Louisville with two Montessori co-teachers. It is called Magnolia Montessori school, and will be located at the shopfront at 1st and Burnett. Through the process of co-founding and co-leading this non-profit, Montessori, one-room schoolhouse for children under three with two of my most beloved colleagues, I am experiencing new ways to engage concrete skills of mutual aid, humility, shared vulnerability, and earnestness that to me comprise an overall practice of peacefulness and home. My co-teachers are Sam and Whitney, and the three of us are constantly learning and growing in self-awareness, intimacy and trust through the process of starting our preschool. One of the tenets of our school is to blur the line between home and school, and live Montessori values of peacemaking and self-organization, for the families we serve and for ourselves. It feels so good and so right to expand my notion of home to include my co-teachers and this school that we are building. I am looking forward to including in my notion of family and home all the people in the families of our future students, as well as the community surrounding us. I’m looking forward to teaching and learning with this new tribe we are gathering, and I can’t wait to see how we can make peace for and with each other and the world.
We signed a lease! And it has us feeling like this:
We are leasing the shopfront at 1451 S. 1st. in Old Louisville. We are so eager to move in, but first we are waiting to gain access to it while it undergoes $10,000 of remodeling to make it perfect for welcoming children. We plan to have an open house on site once renovations are complete. We are planning on early August for the open house, with the school being ready for its first day with children on Tuesday, September 5 (fingers crossed that all goes according to plan!).
Until then, we are happy to meet with you in person by visiting your home or finding you out in the world at a place of your choosing (like a park or coffeeshop), to discuss our school, Montessori in general, and the Wildflower school network. We can also meet in our temporary office in Old Louisville. If you're interested in a visit, please let us know what works for you! We are generally available 9-5 weekdays, but we can also accommodate weekend and evening hours if that works best for you.
In the meantime, please feel free to explore the website as well as our Magnolia Montessori virtual information session. It contains most of the information we shared with families at our recent orientation and information session. Please explore the linked presentation and contact us with follow-up questions as you like!
If you are ready to apply, please fill out the application questionnaire on our website. Once you've done that and we've received it via our website, we will contact you with enrollment paperwork!
Thank you all so much for your interest in our school. We look forward to continuing to deepen our connections with you.
Clare, Sam, and Whitney
Hello Magnolia Families!
Thank you for introducing yourselves to us over the last few weeks via Facebook, our website, and in person at events like Springfest and the Flea Off Market. We have so enjoyed putting faces with names and we cannot wait to invite you into our school space!
We know that some of you are anxiously waiting for an update about Magnolia Montessori, and we want to keep you in the loop about our work. In short, a lot has shifted in recent weeks. We were intent on landing a home for a school in Old Louisville, but two prospective locations fell through after tough negotiations. We are disappointed about this, but we know our budget, and in order to keep Magnolia accessible to every family in the neighborhood, we have to find a home that is beautiful, functional, and affordable.
We continued to work incessantly on our search, and with the help of our lovely community, we have three new prospective locations, two of which are not in Old Louisville. One is in Butchertown and the other is in the Highlands. We have spent the past week negotiating with landlords and inviting licensing agencies to each space, to make sure they fit state and local requirements for our needs. We knew that adding "Administrator" to our resumes would be a lot of work, but we never knew we would learn so much about the Health Department, Building Codes, and various plumbing regulations! Suffice it to say, we are fast becoming experts at commercial real estate and small business startup. ;)
With all that we've learned from licensing officials, it seems we still have three very good options for our school, each bringing different, unique strengths to the table. We hope to make a decision by the end of the week after our final licensing visits and plumbing estimates come through. Please keep your fingers crossed for an optimal resolution as we hone in on our home!
More than anything, in our search for a school home, we have been reminded that much of Montessori is a process, not a product. Just as we strive to foster an environment for children that emphasizes process as the venue for real learning, we must remember that building a school is also a process. We are learning how to adapt, amend, and appreciate each other along the way (as well as to be adamant and open about our needs and desires). We also appreciate all of the loving kindness we have felt from parents and friends in the community. We have felt the support, and we know you are eager to hear from us. Every inquiring email reminds us that we are part of a community who is thinking about us and cheering us on.
To all the families waiting to see us again and meet our space, we have planned an Open House/Orientation for July 6, from 5:30-7pm. We intend to hold the orientation in our new space--where ever that may be. The orientation will be parents only (so we can have your fullest attention; leave the children at home for this one, please). We will cover an introduction to Montessori, the Wildflower network and principles, and our own Magnolia Montessori School in theory and reality. We are sending each and every family we have spoken to an invite to the event and we hope you will join us! Please RSVP here if you plan to attend, and we will update you on the location as soon as we have it confirmed!
At this point, we plan on opening in line with JCPS calendar, but it is possible that an unforeseen obstacle may push back our start date slightly. Thanks again for your patience and enthusiasm.
Whitney, Clare and Sam
Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook and subscribe to our events there!
Hi y'all! Thank you so much for all the interest you've been showing in our site! Hopefully you like what you see. Perhaps you've even filled out a contact form on our website. Yay! One little thing, though: we ran into some technical difficulties with our domain for a few days (from Monday to Thursday, May 8-11) and might not have received your form. So:
If you attempted to submit a contact form on our website this week, please re-submit it, or simply send us an email at all(at)magnolia-montessori.org or message us on our Facebook page.
Come see us at Old Louisville Springfest on May 19th through 21st. We will be tabling to share information about our program, as well as meet and greet families in our neighborhood.
Check out our Facebook event and let us know you will come!
Magnolia Montessori is inspired by the principles of the Wildflower network, including the commitment to a shopfront school. Our concept is to have a school that is nestled in the heart of Old Louisville, where we live and serve.
We are pursuing two spaces in Old Louisville that we fully believe in as beautiful spaces that will serve our community as a home away from home. We don't know yet which site will be ours ultimately, but as soon as we know we will let interested families and the public know!
We are as eager as you are to share photos and give tours of our new school. Follow us on Facebook and here on the website to find out as soon as we do!
The folks at Magnolia Montessori have been working for months to get our program up and running. We have been imagining what our school looks like and are doing our best to set up an environment that meets or exceeds our ideals. We have a lot of hopes. We want Magnolia to be a place like no other in Louisville.
We want it to be a nest in the neighborhood where young children can come to thrive. We want it to be a haven for parents, who are present because they need quality care for their young ones, but also desire a supportive learning community of peers to dive into the Montessori life style. We want a work environment for teachers that meets their needs too. One that will support their passion for continued research and practice, while enhancing their fullness in general instead of taxing their ability to give. We want our school to be a beacon of light in the community--one that makes children and their role more visible and important. We want our neighbors to know who we are because of the good we do and the relationships we build.
We look forward to meeting all the families and little ones that will be in our program next year. We can't wait to hear how you'll be involved. We have a lot of work to do! We will keep you updated.