Years spent at Gladwyne Montessori: 1988-1995 (Kindergarten-6th grade)
Degree: B.S. Communications, New York University
What is your professional line of work?
As the Vice President of New Development at Corcoran, I work with residential developers and brokers to sell high-end buildings in New York City and other key markets. I’ve been with the organization for 12 years. The process of selling luxury condominiums takes years of planning, so my daily interactions spread far and wide. We consult with developers through all phases: valuing sites where the project will eventually be constructed, working with architects and designers, and building marketing and sales programs. Marketing often includes creating a distinct brand for a development and forging partnerships beyond real estate—for example with the art, automotive, or culinary worlds. Our team is continually looking for new ways to capture luxury buyers in a very competitive market. We work with our developer clients to see their projects all the way through.
What is your family’s particular connection to Gladwyne Montessori?
While living in Boston, I attended pre-K at a Montessori school. My parents always valued the Montessori philosophy, so when we moved to Pennsylvania, we toured Gladwyne Montessori, and they fell in love with it from that first day. My parents also come from an education background, having worked in their earlier years as “house parents” to autistic youth in a residential facility, where they supervised, taught, and lived there themselves. To this day, they keep in touch with former students. Ultimately, their deep belief that community and school shape a young person’s life drove their decision to send me to Gladwyne Montessori. Their careers progressed, but they both remain active in the local community. My mom sends a text every time she runs into someone associated with Gladwyne Montessori.
Who were your teachers and how did they positively influence you?
In Lower Elementary, Meg Bolton and Lois Byrne made a dynamic team. I vividly remember Mrs. Bolton rolling out a long piece of fabric from one end of school to the other, taking us through the concepts of Earth’s history; a story was told as the fabric unrolled. Then, she would roll out a tiny, inch-long red cloth, meant to show how long people have been present on the planet in relation to the planet’s entire life. The message was powerful. Her co-teacher, Mrs. Byrne, always made us feel supported, even talking us through difficult topics, namely the Gulf War which broke out at the time. Later, in Upper Elementary, Ms. Sarni possessed a tough sort of love and really snapped us into shape academically. I struggled with math; Ms. Sarni took the time to sit with me while, most importantly, allowing me to be behind the other kids but never standing for me saying “I’m not good at math.” Today, I do a lot of math in my professional career. Alongside Ms. Sarni, Mrs. Leininger also had a lasting impact; she was a tremendous educator in every way and made us laugh every day. I think we made her laugh, too!
What special projects did you engage in while here?
In 3rd grade, the school partnered with the American Institute of Architects Philadelphia Chapter. They came in weekly for a full semester, and my classmate and friend Alex Feldman and I became fascinated with building. Together, we created a hand-drawn catalog of home designs with floor plans that people could buy. Each plan had an identity, and our firm even had a name and logo! It was ever-expanding, and we worked on it all the way up to 6th grade. Now, Alex is an accomplished urban development advisor (and currently serves on Gladwyne Montessori’s Board of Trustees), and I work in residential development. It’s hard to not give the program, specifically this project, a bit of credit for where we are today.
Did any piece of the Montessori philosophy ever resurface in your life, and what was its importance?
Heading into freshman year, I interviewed for and was given a spot in the NYU Scholars Program. NYU looked at academics in the acceptance, but they also greatly cared about outside interests. The program comprised of 20 students from all disciplines of study, who met weekly for all four years of college. Annually, we traveled with the dean to different parts of the world—Louisiana, Peru, France, and Brazil—to study culture and history as well as complete service projects for local communities. This program built an amazing community amongst myself and other NYU students, and it was the closest thing to Gladwyne Montessori I experienced since being a student there. There was something special in studying parallel to students from different disciplines, students who all had their own unique paths but were brought together through this group. It really reinforced the notion that everybody doesn’t need to be doing the same thing to learn with each other, very similar to the Montessori philosophy. The mix of disciplines added value to the way we viewed the places we visited, and people I might not have associated with became friends—to this day, I keep in touch with several of them.
What is your biggest takeaway as a Gladwyne Montessori student?
The idea that success doesn’t have to mean perfection. Mistakes are part of the process, which makes a person independent and resilient in the face of challenges. It’s a great mindset to have within a professional organization.