“It’s like my family,” says Darlene Keener, veteran Stepping Stones teacher, of the MMS community.
Seventeen years ago, Darlene Keener and her family were new to Milwaukee moving from their hometown of Cincinnati to Milwaukee for her husband's new job.
Not long after their arrival, Mrs. Keener began volunteering at MMS. Enthusiastic about the cheerfulness of students, as well as the learning pace and achievement of our little toddlers, she promptly earned her certification in Child Development from MATC.
On the topic of MMS, she reminisces, “There was something about this school environment that was so original to me. It was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to play a part in a learning environment that made a child's first school experience so joyful."
In fact, Mrs. Keener believed so deeply in MMS that she enrolled her two youngest children, Samira, and Frazier, and today they are both not only MMS graduates but also employees.
Samira, MMS ’07, graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, where she was on the Deans List and earned a sundry of awards. She has a degree from the College of Professional Sciences and also received her Children's House Montessori Diploma. Today she is a full-time Children’s House Assistant with the goal of becoming a lead teacher. What she most appreciates about MMS is the diversity of the environment and the ease with which we help all children learn.
“Being able to take a concept and differentiate it for all students is amazing,” says Samira.
Samira’s brother, Frazier, truly grew up at MMS, beginning his education here at 15 months as a Stepping Stones student. He’s now a standout senior at Rufus King International School and works at MMS in childcare and also as the beloved coach of the third-grade basketball team.
"I learned crucial life lessons at MMS, things that seem like common sense. Like turning in high-quality assignments on time! It’s on you to finish a project as a Montessori student.”
Frazier maintains that MMS helped him to be a fit and well-prepared athlete. Today he does personal training in his spare time and notes: “I wouldn’t be as strong, agile, and healthy as I am today if I hadn’t been for athletics classes at MMS.”
Like his sister, Frazier quickly mentioned his Junior High experience at Nature’s Classroom. These three outdoor education weeks coupled with his botany and biology lessons here inspired his career aspirations. "I plan to study business management and agriculture at Xavier University. Ultimately, I would like to become a farm manager, learning the entire vertical process from the botanical science all the way thru the marketplace and to consumers. Being a good farmer today has its challenges --resources are limited, and you need to take care of them.”
The Keeners are truly an MMS legacy and an example of the inspirational lessons that we do here every day for our students! Mrs. Keener sums it all up saying, “I love this school. I truly love it for all that our teachers have done to make my own children successful learners, and competent, kind young adults. I feel blessed."