And 'The People' Win It — An Update from Inly’s New Faculty and Staff

By E.S.S., Inly Parent

“Hey, why don’t you check in on how all the new folks are doing?” Inly Communications Director Liz Knox asked me. By “new folks” she meant the seven new Inly faculty and staff that started here in the Fall. “Let’s find out how they’re settling in, and how the first half of the year went for them.”

So I dropped the new folks an e-mail and asked them to tell me how the year was going and about their favorite part of Inly.

By evening, I had a reply from Pat Thompson, the new teacher in LE1. Pat has been a Montessori teacher for a long time.  Before she joined us she was at Bay Farm Montessori Academy in Duxbury where she taught for seven years at both the Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary levels.

Pat Thompson, LE1
Pat Thompson, LE1. Photo by Heidi Harting.

“Lower Elementary is my first love in age groups,” Pat wrote to me. “So it was great fun to get back to these energetic and wonderful children. They are so full of stories, humor and activity. There is NEVER a dull moment! Guess the big—not surprise, but joy—I have had, was to see how well the staff works together and how Donna and Annika inspire great things. Everyone is very happy working here. I feel lucky. There is also a lot going on all the time!”

I had asked Pat if she had any great stories from the first half of the year, and she said, “I am always amazed when my children get up on the stage to perform—like at the Winter Concert. It was such a great effort by Colleen and Meri-Lee and everyone. Sometimes you can’t imagine your children pulling off such a huge feat and then they do it! Weren’t they all grand?”

“I feel so proud when I see them like this,” she continued, “and feel that I am glimpsing what they will be like in their future—so mature and polished. The children make me laugh every day! How many people can say they laugh every day at their workplace? I feel very lucky.”

I loved that e-mail and was so excited to see what else would come. When none had by the following afternoon, I decided a gentle reminder was in order.

“If you answer this for me, I will give you candy,” I wrote. No reply.

I forgot how much people hate the media.

So I strapped my baby to my chest, grabbed my notebook, and did what I should have done in the first place: I went to see for myself.

I started in Children’s House Five where Ann Gurney, a veteran Inly parent, has just joined the teaching staff.

Ann Gurney, CH5
Ann Gurney, CH5. Photo by Heidi Harting.

What’s the best part? I asked.

“The people,” Ann said. “And you know, I always knew this was a great school, but working here? I get to see how it works. I’m even more in love with it now that I’ve seen first hand what the kids’ days are like, how much everyone cares about them. I’m really glad my daughter goes here, and I’m really glad I work here.”

From there, my baby and I made our way down to Toddler, to say hello to Katelyn Chase. I caught her talking to two children on her lap while she instructed a third on how to wipe down the table.

Katelyn Chase, Toddler. Photo by Heidi Harting.
Katelyn Chase, Toddler. Photo by Heidi Harting.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great,” she said. “This is a really fun place to work. The kids are adorable.” The kid in her lap chose that moment to wipe his nose on her shirt, and Katelyn handed him a tissue without breaking eye contact with the one who hadn’t quite gotten the sponge wrung out enough. I was seriously impressed.

“I love seeing them change every day,” she said. “Every day’s a story in Toddler. And I love the closeness of everyone. It’s really fun to work here.”

“The people?” I asked.

“The people,” she agreed.

I know better than to distract a woman surrounded by toddlers, so I thanked her and popped upstairs to say hello to Jackie Fellini in the bus office. Before coming here, Jackie worked as an accountant for Dunkin Brands, Inc. for over 10 years. She is originally from Mexico where she obtained her B.S in Accounting. Her son has joined Children’s House One this year, and it was her first time back to full time office work, so I was interested to find out how they’re both doing.

Jackie Fellini, Business Office. Photo by Heidi Harting.
Jackie Fellini, Business Office. Photo by Heidi Harting.

“I thought Montessori would take some adjusting,” she admits. “He was fine the first day.”

“Don’t you hate that?” I agreed. “I mean, you want the kid to be happy…but would it kill him to miss you a little?” She laughed. I asked her her favorite thing about Inly and she said:

“The people. Is that a boring answer? Is that horrible? But I can’t help it. It’s a really nice place to work.”

I was sensing a theme here.

My next stop was the Middle School. Believe it or not, I’d never been in the Middle School classrooms when they weren’t draped in white bunting and fake blood for the annual haunted house. It is much cheerier during the school day. Kids were gathered in groups in big comfy chairs working in their notebooks, or taking lessons in algebra and science. I found Paran Quigley at her laptop. Paran is originally from Washington, DC, and came here by way of the University of Vermont and Brown University, where she earned degrees in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Studies.

Paran Quigley, Middle School. Photo by Heidi Harting.
Paran Quigley, Middle School. Photo by Heidi Harting.

“Let me guess,” I asked. “The people? The people are your favorite part of Inly?”

“You’ve heard that one already?”

“Yep, it’s taken. Next time answer your e-mail. What else you got?”

“Okay, well, here’s what I specifically like about the people: I love the way kids interact with adults here. Adults aren’t big and scary people that might get you in to trouble. The kids look at adults as people to come to and learn things from.”

I thanked Paran and made my way up to the last person on my list, Lisa Kamins in Development. Before coming here Lisa worked at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Massachusetts Chapter, where she specialized in grant writing and patient services. She has also worked at Harvard Business School Publishing, The Los Angeles Times, Sage, Inc. and HarperCollins College Publishers. Lisa’s two daughters are also here, in CH4 and LE3.

Lisa Kamins, Development Office. Photo by Heidi Harting.
Lisa Kamins, Development Office. Photo by Heidi Harting.

I found Lisa just as she was finishing up the first auction meeting.

“So what’s it going to be?” I asked, hoping for an auction scoop.

“Great!” she answered. “We’ve started generating ideas. It’s really fun.”

Then I asked her what her favorite thing about Inly was.

“The –”

“People?” I said.

“Yes! – You’ve heard that one before?”

“A few times.”

“You know what I really like? I like drop-off. It’s fun. It’s how I meet all the kids and their parents and match all the siblings up.”

“Okay,” I said, “and don’t you love seeing how EVERYONE’S car is as messy as yours?”

“Totally. Makes me feel better as a human being.”

“I knew it.”

“This is a seriously great place to work,” she said.

John Conti, Maintenance
John Conti, Maintenance

Later, I got a note from John Conti, Inly’s new maintenance assistant. He wrote, “I enjoy working in maintenance at Inly. The tasks are different every day and that keeps the job interesting. I particularly enjoy seeing children and faculty participating in the same job of organizing and cleaning the school. Keep up the great work—it’s for all of us!”

Yep. It’s the people.

[This story first appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newletter, on February 12, 2010.]

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