Aliyah Farooki Quidwai (Class of 2000)

Aliyah Farooki Quidwai has been instrumental in the opening of Cincinnati’s first Islamic Montessori School, Universal Muslim Academy following in the footsteps of Lynn Fisher. With an impressive range of experience including AmeriCorps and teaching at the Xavier Montessori Lab School, Aliyah is committed to bringing Montessori educational opportunities to Islamic children.

Aliyah attended Notre Dame Academy after graduating from West Side Montessori. She continued her education at the University of Cincinnati earning a B.S. in Communications, continued to Xavier University for graduate school and was awarded a M.A. in Montessori Education.

Her inspiration to become a Montessori teacher started as a young student. “WSM and the Montessori philosophy shaped my view of what learning should be – fun, fulfilling, purposeful, and life-long. Montessori education looks to every child’s unique potential and helps them want to reach it for themselves,” shares Aliyah.

Some of Aliyah’s favorite WSM memories include the operas, the large projects, camping, and the many fun middle school activities. Aliyah is married and is the daughter of Jean Farooki.


Emily Boening (Class of 1998)

Emily Boening, West Side Montessori class of 1998, credits the WSM culture of learning for her success today. As Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State she manages the Afghan criminal court that tries our detainees. She is currently serving on a Pentagon detail to the Joint Staff and is a Middle East policy advisor.

Emily'path to such a prestigious position after she graduated from West Side Montessori included St. Ursula Academy, the University of Chicago with a degree in International Studies and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Emily feels strongly about sharing the Montessori qualities that she enthusiastically feels have impacted her personal and professional life.

“The priorities Montessori has instilled in me, such as enthusiasm for learning, accepting others, taking responsibility for your actions, and self-sufficiency have stayed with me and still form the template for my decisions today” she states. Her hope is that parents embrace the Montessori philosophy and make a commitment to be an active participant in Montessori education, as it builds a strong foundation for better decisions long after the child leaves the number beads behind.

Emily fondly remembers her WSM days and how everyone (everyone!) knitted during reading time in elementary, the operas performed, the fact that all ages had recess and the awesome year-long projects worked on in middle school.

“Also, I usually flash back to rolling up my rug in the Orange Room when I roll up my yoga mat after a workout, and I would definitely like to get a pink tower in my office for stressful moments,” shared Emily.

Emily loves Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts), hiking, and traveling. She is the daughter of John and Sally Boening.


Amy Isenberg (Class of 1997)

Creating beautiful, healthy smiles every day is the work of West Side Montessori graduate, Amy Isenberg. After graduating from WSM in 1997, Amy attended St. Ursula Academy, the University of Notre Dame, and dental school at New York University culminating in a specialization in Orthodontics at University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry.

Amy fondly remembers her years at WSM as being filled with inspiring activities presented in an atmosphere of independence and self-motivation that have helped create the foundation for her success.

"WSM made each educational experience memorable," said Amy. Her most treasured memories are Sweet September Sundaes, the Peace Fest, operas and Songfests, and building a giant Moby Dick out of garbage bags.

"I feel a Montessori education is priceless," said Amy. She so believes in the outstanding foundation of a Montessori education that she and her husband have already been investigating Montessori schools for their newborn son, Jonathan.

Amy is married to Robert Opie and they enjoy water sports and entertaining. She is the daughter of Marshall Isenberg and Catherine Noble Isenberg.


Ravi Perry (Class of 1997)

Could it be that Ravi Perry's career as an expert on African-American politics, ethnic students, and public policy began as a young man known as "Mr. Justice" here at West Side Montessori's Middle School? Ravi fondly remembers his time at WSM where the environment allowed students to ask questions freely and take risks. He particularly remembers embracing this attitude when pointing out rules in the handbook that were not being followed.

Ravi graduated from West Side Montessori in 1997 and enrolled in Central Catholic where he immediately became active in student government. During his high school years, he was known for his winning orations at the Martin Luther King Oratory competitions, academic excellence, and as an outstanding track athlete. He continued his education at University of Michigan and Brown University, earning both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science. Ravi is currently a professor of political science at Mississippi State.

He feels his foundation of searching for justice, expressing opinions, sharing intellectual dialogue, and public speaking began in his middle school years at WSM, which certainly played a role in his interests and career choice. His commentary, op-eds, editorials, and award-winning oratory have been featured in various national media outlets. He shares "the education at West Side is one of true value and prepares you for life."

Ravi is the author of Black Mayors White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics. He enjoys writing, public speaking, tennis and running. Learn more about Ravi at


Lauren Stockdale (Class of 1997)

What a treat to have a graduate spend the morning at West Side. Lauren Stockdale Danskin, a West Side Montessori graduate of the class of 1997, and her husband, Eric, were delighted to tour our new building, reconnect with teachers, and meet new friends as they took a trip down memory lane with Head of School Lynn Fisher.

These days Lauren spends her time surrounded by many furry friends. As a veterinarian for Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., she treats small domestic animals, coming a long way from her initial veterinary experiences working in equine medicine.

Upon graduating from West Side Montessori, Lauren attended Notre Dame Academy, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from Kalamazoo College and received her veterinary medicine degree from The Ohio State University. She accumulated a wealth of veterinary and research internships, including two trips as a research assistant in Kenya.

Lauren feels that West Side Montessori was pivotal in helping her continue to follow her dreams of becoming a veterinarian. She credits WSM with creating an environment of experiential education, freedom to learn at one's own pace, and independent thinking, all of which have helped her to be successful.

“Not only is this a more enjoyable and interactive way to learn, but this type of education also creates a well-rounded person who learns valuable communication and interpersonal skills that are applicable outside of the classroom,” said Lauren.

Lauren fondly remembers many wonderful WSM experiences, but perhaps the most impressionable for her was the 1995 Peace Fest.

“We spent the last few months of the school year studying anything and everything about the late 1960s, including the Vietnam War, music, art, literature, and politics. The students and teachers then hosted a festival at the middle school that immersed our guests in 60s culture and included educational booths to visit and a concert featuring songs of the time period. And to top it off, everyone was decked out in his or her finest tie-dye shirt and bell bottoms,” Lauren said.

Lauren’s hobbies include hiking, travel, movies and theater, horseback riding, and creative writing. She is married and resides in Michigan.

She is the daughter of Joe and Diane Stockdale.


Matt Trumbull (Class of 1989)

As a man on the move and an U.S. Diplomat, Matt Trumbull, is currently working at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. A West Side Montessori graduate from class of 1989, the solid foundation Matt developed at WSM prepared him for his rigorous academic journey. Upon graduation, he attended Sylvania Northview and studied at Denison University. He then received an MBA from ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain and a J.D. from American University.

Matt has served in many roles working at Embassies and Consulates around the world as a Foreign Service Officer. His appointments have included Spain, South Korea, and Nigeria.

“The Montessori philosophy taught me that I have the tools to confidently address any situation,” said Matt. He strongly feels his time at WSM gave him the mental stamina he uses every day to learn and operate in new areas.

Matt attributes his diverse skill set from his foundation at WSM. His confidence and self-motivation have assisted him in developing effective research strategies and have given him the ability to work with diverse cultures and learn new languages. His critical thinking skills help him facilitate small groups and manage important projects.

Matt is an outstanding athlete and team player. At Denison, he was a four-year letter winner and a member of the national championship men’s swimming and diving team. Today, wherever he travels, Matt engages in the popular sport of the country. Learning new sports is a way for him to seek out new experiences and acclimate to different cultures. “In Argentina I have, at the age of 36, begun playing American football with large groups of Argentines.”

Matt met his wife, Heather Brand, when working in Africa. Matt and Heather will move to Washington, D.C. in July where he will work on international labor issues.

Matt is the son of proud parents, Scott and Margy Trumbull.