We started a fun tradition in 2018 at Sunrise Montessori called Family of the Month.
You would think that maybe it gets harder each month to pick a family who meets our definition of what a truly exceptional family is, but it’s the opposite. We have SUCH a hard time picking just one. A wonderful problem to have! I thought you might be a smidge curious how we pick a family to highlight on our Facebook page (we also email our 200+ families about them), so what follows are examples of those who stand out in 80’s neon!
The Ganeys, above, and the Cass Family
Families who go out of their way to show thanks to our teachers is the first thing we consider, like our October 2019 family, the Cass’. They bought lunch for our 30+ teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Or the families who took the time to email us kudos, like when a teacher went the extra mile, or penned a Yelp review for other families to read (such as the Garcias, FOTM January 2019, thank you, Sommer!). Those families who show their appreciation and positivity, lifting up EVERYone’s spirits…just saying thank you isn’t enough sometimes. That’s why we love this award! It gives us the opportunity to let others know how we feel about them.
Then there are the families who are our sounding boards we rely on, like Amanda Vasquez (October 2018 FOTM), when we were really struggling to create new policies and procedures during the beginning of Covid. There was little direction and a lot of confusion, yet Amanda made the time for us to pick her brain so that our students still received the high quality nurturing care we weren’t willing to compromise on. Of course, she ALSO volunteered to be in our parent testimonial video AND her husband, Kraig, who is a firefighter, helped us get a large dangling limb out of our large Ash tree after the ice storm with his fire station crew (the children LOVED seeing the truck!!, thanks again, Kraig!). As Amanda told me recently, “We could have never imagined that Sunrise would become our extended family, community support and a network of new families to share our lives with! I’ve met some of my best friends just by chatting them up in the parking lot at pick up.” It’s that kind of attitude that makes such a difference in everyone’s experience and also a family of the month!
The Changs, above, and the Woroszylos
The spontaneous parents who respond to times of stress are also greatly appreciated, like the Changs (FOTM February 2020), who brought cases of bottled water for our teachers when we opened back up after the ice-pocolypse to ensure they didn’t have to microwave their water first (our Director, Ms. Michelle, boiled water at home and brought it in to school in 13 water jugs…thank goodness the boil water notice lifted that night and it was only one day). Thank you, Kevin, for thinking of us! Kevin and Meghan also volunteered for our parent testimonial video (Meghan was in her third trimester!) as did the Williamsons (FOTM October 2020) and Sterling Jones (FOTM December 2018). Thank you! There are parents who really don’t think they are going out of their way, like Tommy Woroszylo (FOTM February 2019), who allowed us to take his picture on the fly for last week’s blog post. Tommy is an introvert and not someone who enjoys drawing attention to himself, and yet when we asked to use his image while wearing our “Vaccinated for Covid” wrist band, he didn’t hesitate. (You took an awesome picture, too!)
One of my favorite families is the Ganeys. Seriously, Stephanie, how do you work a job in management with two children and give so much back to us?!? 🙂 She must have been a career cheerleader in a previous life. Stephanie offered to give a parent testimonial in our video, was the first to let us know how excited her son was about our Green Playscape (she started telling us in excitement before she even made it to the office!), and constantly does Admin “check ins” to see how we’re doing. This was especially appreciated during March and April last year when our school turned into a ghost town, our numbers were so low. We were all putting on the mask of “we’re good!” but in reality, we were scared and her funny comments and big smile made our day/week/month.
She has even emailed me personally more than once, as has Amanda Vasquez and others, to let me know what they think we’re doing right even though it’s not popular with everyone. Stephanie emailed me last week and gave me permission to quote her here, “I believe all of us desire for our home to be the safest place for our children, and Sunrise feels like an extension of that. Only, I also feel safe as a parent too. It’s a bonus that I have met other parents who have turned into carpool partners, emergency-contact-backups, and actual friends outside of the classroom. When my oldest (now in kindergarten) and her little brother also graduates from Sunrise, I’ll have more than just two Montessori children, thanks to Sunrise I’ll have a small village of my own parent-friends to stay connected with.” What a fantastic attitude and gift she is spreading! These kinds of parents who are encouraging and supportive are the glitter in our sometimes stressful world! And Sunrise Montessori is filled to the brim with families just like this! We love each family of the month!
The Schmidts, above, and the Williamsons
And last but not least, I couldn’t forget the infamous Nicki Schmidt, referral queen!
Who gives the most referrals to new families, you ask? Who follows up with them like a friendly stalker? That award goes to Nicki with Amanda Vasquez vying to overcome her place in first (sadly, there is really no hope, Amanda…Nicki is a BOSS). Those of you on the Siena Facebook page totally know what I’m talking about. 😉 Nicki is shameless (her words). She leaves her neighborhood Facebook page open on her phone with a special noise that dings her when someone asks about child care, all so she can respond first! And then about two or three dozen of you also add your two cents (thank you!!!). Our referral fee may have something to do with that dedication, but we love it and are super grateful. We couldn’t be happier that Nicki may have some undiagnosed OCD tendencies 😉 because that love for us, and reducing the fear that new families have when deciding on which school to join, helps so many.
Thank you to ALL our families for your kindness, generosity and understanding!
You are truly what makes Family of the Month! You lift us up, make us want to work harder, and let us know when we are making your time with us special. As we strive to make Sunrise the place where every family belongs, it’s also where our team wants to belong! You know that saying about it taking a village? Well, all of our Sunrise families are OUR village and because of you, we feel like the most fortunate group of ladies ever. 🙂