Years spent at Gladwyne Montessori: 1983-1986
Degrees: B.A. in Spanish, Gettysburg College; Juris Doctor, Syracuse University College of Law
How did your career path lead you to where you are today?
During law school, I served as a judicial intern for the Superior Court of PA, assuming primary research and drafting responsibilities for judicial bench memos and memorandum opinions. As a result of that judicial internship, my interest was piqued in working for The Philadelphia Court system. Upon graduating from law school, I began my career at The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, which is the largest judicial district in Pennsylvania, where its respective courts preside over all state and local jurisdiction civil and criminal matters within Philadelphia. I began as a law clerk for Administrative Judge D. Webster Keogh, assisting His Honor’s oversight of the Trial Division, researching and writing memoranda, orders, and opinions in a variety of Criminal and Civil cases. Thereafter, I had an opportunity for a civil clerkship within the chambers of the Honorable James Murray Lynn, who at that time presided over mass tort cases assigned to the Court’s Complex Litigation Center. I then applied and was hired by Court Administration to become its Labor, Procurement, and Litigation attorney. During my time spent within that position, I assisted numerous offices with a variety of legal matters: contracts, requests for proposal, invitations to bid, and subpoenas. I recently became Director of Contract Administration, drafting and negotiating contracts on behalf of the First Judicial District. I enjoy my career at The Philadelphia Courts because I interface with every division of the court and am exposed to a variety of legal matters.
What is your particular connection to Gladwyne Montessori?
My father grew up in Gladwyne and spent his elementary years in our very building during the 1940s and 50s. At the time, though, the school was named Merion Square School and served as a public elementary school for the Lower Merion School District. When I was ready to begin schooling, my parents did not hesitate to send me to Gladwyne Montessori. Fast forward another generation to when my first child was born—even though we lived in Chestnut Hill and quite a distance away, because I went to Gladwyne Montessori and my parents always raved about it, we decided to take the hike to visit. During that visit, the then school librarian, Carol Barclay, saw my nametag and said, “I remember a little girl named Stephanie Rigterink.” It was really great to have that connection—even from over 30 years back—and now, three generations have spent time in this building for the past 75 years.
What did Gladwyne Montessori instill in you as a learner, and how do you see those same skills building within your own children?
Independence and a strong, goal-oriented work ethic. I became detail-driven, completing tasks in an orderly way, which is very much how I still approach my work today. My parents truly believe these attributes emerged because of Gladwyne Montessori. I became comfortable and confident, and I witness these similarities within my own four children: Luke, Scarlett, Vivienne and Victoria. Scarlett, currently a second-year Primary student, is a little female leader in the making. And when my parents visited the school for Grandparents Day, they commented on the decision-making that my youngest girls, twins Vivi and Tori, displayed.
What lasting impact does Gladwyne Montessori have on you as an alumna and as a parent?
Gladwyne Montessori is a nurturing establishment that fosters empowerment and independence. When I drop my children off for school, I don’t worry about their well-being. The school has become an extension of family, and knowing every nuance is taken care of feels very comforting.