In 2005, our son Aidan was two years old and had a mild form of speech delay. We wanted the best possible place for him to develop and grow. We needed more than just a “daycare.” We had visited a few centers and our last interview was at West Side Montessori Center (pre-unified campus). We toured the Little House and Aidan was enchanted with all the materials. We knew nothing about the Montessori philosophy but were impressed with the teachings. We decided that West Side was the right place for him and later for our daughter, Paige, as well.

Aidan’s speech delay resolved and both children happily progressed through Pre-primary and Kindergarten. We contemplated our next step. Would we transition to public schools? When we remembered our own childhood experiences, we couldn’t recall having a “passport” (kindergarten prep for time management and organization) or learning as much or as in-depth about other cultures, geography, or even math in the same ways. When our kids would tell us that Eddie (a neighborhood puppy) wasn’t being very appropriate and had trouble listening, we couldn’t believe who these little 5 & 6-year-olds were. Contemplating a transition to public school lasted only a brief moment.

Continuing through Upper Elementary, under the guidance of their teachers, we have seen the richness of their education and the nurturing of their personalities. As school began, they were excited to see their friends and teachers. They eagerly delved into the first of many Independent Investigations--doing the needed research, notecards, rough and final drafts. As they review the Great Lessons and continue their math review, we realize that we indeed are not smarter than our fifth and sixth graders. Even when they argue, they remind each other about appropriate behavior and “de-bug” each other. We know that West Side is the best and only place for them.

During the last nine years, we have seen improvements with the unified campus and academic discovery with new classroom materials and programs, enhancement of the natural playground and walking trails, and advancements in technology with the website, classroom blogs, and online registrations. These all have been possible through the Annual Enhancement Fund. Through everyone’s support, all our children are receiving the very best West Side has to offer and the very best in Toledo.

The Annual Enhancement Fund will continue to further these improvements. There is no price for our children’s education. Please join Jeff and me in support of our school, the future of our children and those to come after them, by contributing to the Annual Enhancement Fund. Your support is greatly appreciated and essential to continue the greatness of our school and investment in our children.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” — Maria Montessori


Jackie Vannuyen & Jeff Stephens
Parents of Aidan (Class of 2017) and Paige (Class of 2018)