Spend time with GSCM families and sooner or later you’ll hear someone ask, “So how did you choose the school?” We’ve decided to share some of these stories so that you can find out what parents — just like you — asked themselves as they searched for the right school for their family.
Lynette Rosati Shim
There are so many reasons why I chose – and love – The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori. Could it be because this is such a safe place that I’m not afraid of sending my children here every day when the world can be so crazy? Could it be because this is a school where I know that my children are not only being taught every day, but also loved and nurtured too? Could it be that it’s a place where the values I teach at home are not only taught, but lived here each day? Yes, it’s all of those things, but then it hit me . . . GSCM is about childhood. It’s a place where children can be just that – children.
This probably sounds strange to the parents who only have preschoolers or lower elementary students, but I have two daughters in the 6th grade (along with one in the 3rd grade, two kindergarteners, and two entering preschool next year). In today’s society, children are forced to grow up way too fast, but not at GSCM. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that my two eleven-year olds can be just that – eleven. It’s not about what label clothing you are wearing or boyfriends or belly shirts or countless other things. As one of the Upper Elementary teachers said to me, “It’s so nice to see that the 6th grade girls are still comfortable holding hands and skipping as they go out to the playground.” And they play on the playground and are nice to each other.
Life already goes by way too fast. You blink and your children are eleven already. Here they can act eleven and not have to worry about acting fourteen. They have the rest of their lives to be “grown up.” It’s so refreshing that GSCM is a place where they don’t have to worry about being “grown up.” They are encouraged to be children. I don’t mean that are babied. I mean that they don’t have the pressure that society places on them to do, say or hear things that they are not ready for.
When my husband died almost three years ago, I thought to myself, “How am I ever going to be able to do this job of raising seven children alone?” I haven’t had to do this job alone. The families, staff and students at GSCM have helped me in ways that are too numerous to mention. Next year, all seven of my children will be students at GSCM because there isn’t a better environment in which to raise my seven children. And that’s what GSCM is about. It’s a place where you want to raise your children.
The Montessori method of teaching was not completely new to me. My mother read Maria Montessori’s books years ago. Strongly agreeing with much of her philosophy concerning young children, she set up a Montessori classroom in our basement. I have fond childhood memories of the things I learned and the time I spent with her there. This type of hands-on learning, that seems to go along so well with the early development of the child, was definitely more attractive to us during our search for a school than the passive and technology based learning that is increasing at an alarming pace in most mainstream schools.
It was also important for both Tony and I, especially considering our secular culture today, to find a school that we felt mirrored as closely as possible the value we place on the dignity of the human person and the importance of each person’s relationship with God. The information and archived newsletters on GSCM’s website were helpful in getting an initial feel for the school. Tony and I also walked around the school, observed a classroom, listened to a presentation given by Dan Teller and then had a conversation with him. All of these steps helped us to get to know the school. We came to the conclusion that GSCM teaches and incorporates our Catholic faith into every aspect of school life, in a way that we felt was different from any other Catholic school we visited during our search.
Our twin girls were 18 months old and very verbal, but very different from one another. Their pediatrician said, “You’ve got to get those girls in a Montessori school”. Taken aback I asked why, not ever hearing much of Montessori, and she said, “because Montessori teaches them HOW to think, and doesn’t tell them WHAT to think.” After a little research I was not convinced – of Montessori or really of the importance of early education. We were new parents with three girls under 2 and thought preschool was just a glorified playdate with crafts, snack and social time. With that said, I needed a break as a mom and enrolled the twins in a 2-day traditional preschool. Then my twins, who are as different as can be, came home with identical artwork: a painted red apple with a green stem. I was immediately struck by the idea that “there is no way they both did that art.” One is an ‘in the lines’ girl (even at 2.5) and the other is most definitely not! And these paintings clearly had a paint stroke from an adult –on both! So I then really started looking into Montessori.
I was still nervous about ‘giving up my babies’ 5 days a week, but was so intrigued with what I read about the early ‘direction’ to develop self control, concentration, initiative and independence, (all things I wouldn’t even expect from a 3-year old) and started to pursue Montessori. Then a friend from church introduced us to The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori. So we came to the Open House.
I remember being greeted by such friendly and ‘into’ their school parents, hearing Mary Rieke talk about her then very shy daughter coming out of her shell, and listening to Mr. Teller’s passion for Montessori methods that match early childhood development milestones and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd . . . and we were sold. So after 3 part-time preschools, we joined the school and my daughters have thrived in countless ways! And, they’ve never come home with similar artwork since!!!
My twins are now in the Upper Elementary and our youngest in the Lower Elementary and every day I am amazed with their desire to learn and the pride they take in their work. And I am continually intrigued with the methods that they are taught – particularly in writing. I’m amazed that in first and second grades they were able to write a key outline and learn the fundamentals of writing, with a depth of description that allowed them to create a coherent document or letter. I don’t recall really learning that until 6th or 7th grade, and went on to struggle with nearly every paper through high school and college. I am hopeful with this extraordinary strong early foundation – in learning for the sake of mastery…and not for the grade on a test (like I learned), they will all three not be just ‘good students’ but well read, independent thinking well rounded adults, prepared to contribute in meaningful ways to life – their jobs, families, church and community.
GSCM has truly been an answer to my prayers!
During my husband’s graduate studies in the Washington, DC area, when my first child was 3 and I was pregnant with our next, I had the opportunity to take the Level 1 training for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I had never heard of it before and simply did it on the recommendation of a friend (who had completed it a year prior). Up to that point, I had struggled with my feelings regarding our children’s schooling options because, though I had been trained as a 6-12th grade public school math teacher, I simply could not see my children being put into the public schooling system. I was searching for an educational system that supported my own ideas of a child’s innate curiosity and love of learning as well as our deeply held religious convictions. I wanted my children to be able to experience an integrated education that supported all aspects of their personality as well as our family’s faith. When I began to learn about Maria Montessori during my first Catechesis training session, I felt like I’d finally found what I was looking for. Every training after that just confirmed more and more that the Catholic-Montessori experience was what I had been searching for but did not know it even existed.
My husband’s studies lead us to Lincoln, NE when my oldest son was entering kindergarten. I was able to find a Montessori pre-primary environment for him that, though not Catholic, seemed to meet our needs. Still, I wanted more. The following year, we discerned a call to homeschool our oldest so our next son could enter a pre-primary Montessori program at a different, very well-established school. He began his 3 years there just before his 3rd birthday, and we ended up homeschooling our oldest for 1st – 3rd grade, knowing that both of these options were NOT our first choice. Our first choice was a Catholic Montessori school, but there were none to be found in Nebraska.
Then, my husband got wind of a job opportunity in Cincinnati. Right away I did a web search for “Cincinnati Catholic Montessori” and I found GSCM! I called and spoke to Mr. Teller and had such a wonderful conversation that I was already sold. It was over a year before we finally came out and took a tour with our whole family. My boys really liked what they saw and wanted to start that day!! Instead, we packed up our Nebraska home and moved to Cincinnati in Aug. 2011 – just a few blocks away from the school down in Mariemont. Our boys were able to ride their bikes every day! (Though not as often as I’d like.) Though our oldest had a difficult time transitioning his first year as a 4th grader, he is now in 6th grade, loving school and already excited to begin middle school next year! Our next son is also doing well – having just received his first confession and communion at the end of last school year. He is now in 3rd grade and is very happy that his little sister has finally joined in the mix, with beginning in the pre-primary class this fall.
GSCM has all that I was hoping, praying and Dreaming for in a school – plus more! Both my boys have consistently said, over the past 2 school years, that ATRIUM is their favorite class. WONDERFUL!! My prayer is that their relationship with The Good Shepherd will continue to develop and deepen and that all of our children can become more and more the children that God has created them to be – that they would remain on the vine and bear beautiful fruit! THANK YOU GOD FOR GSCM! AMEN!!