Parenting at Post Oak

A Montessori Moment: Jeannine & David Bergt

Published October 8, 2010 in The Weekly Post

The following words belong to David Bergt from the 2010 POPA Annual Welcome Dinner that took place September 14.

Three weeks ago, I was in the pick-up line, moving slow like you do, when the front door of the school flew open and Christina ran over to my car and tapped on my window. I rolled it down, and she said breathlessly, “David, the POPA dinner is coming up and we’re looking for speakers. We’re looking for the perfect Montessori couple, with two outstanding Montessori kids. Well, we found them, but they won’t be able to come to dinner. Sooooo, we thought we’d relax our requirements a bit. Then Mirani had an idea. She said, ‘Why don’t we just take the next car that comes around the corner, and ask them?’ And it was you, David.”

Then she said, “What we’d like you and Jeannine to do is talk about Post Oak School “extras” for parents. You’d only have to talk maybe three to five minutes.”

I thought, only 3 to 5 minutes? That’s not very long. Jeannine could do that! So, I accepted on Jeannine’s behalf. Later, at home, I told Jeannine about the speaking opportunity I had signed her up for. She said, and she is very good at this, “David, let me be perfectly clear:  I will be at the dinner, but you will be at the podium.” So, here I am.

Picture this:  Fifteen kids at a party, each with a delicious cupcake in front of them. Then three of them are given ice cream too, and cookies and whipped cream, and cherries on top, and those little toys you get at restaurants. What do you think would be the reaction of the twelve other kids? If they’re Montessori kids, of course they would be thrilled at the good fortune of the three lucky kids, but if they’re like the rest of the world, their more likely reaction would be: “Hey, wait a minute! Why don’t I get that too?” I must admit, I have been in situations like that myself, and that has been my response. Well, the wonderful education your kids are getting at The Post Oak School is like the wonderful cupcakes. The ice cream and cookies are the many extras available to you, the parents at the school, that are only sparsely taken advantage of. 

We have about 496 parents at Post Oak, and many of these functions are attended by only 15 to 20 parents. That means that 476 of you are missing out on some really great “ice cream and cookies,” that are yours to be had! Now I know that many of you work, and can’t make day-time functions, but some of them are at night and on weekends. Let me tell you about them.
I’m going to talk about six or seven of them. Many of you here will know about them already, and if so, all you will lose is 3 to 5 minutes of listening to me talk. If you haven’t heard of them though, you’ll learn about some really wonderful things at the school, and if you attend some of them, all the better!

The first one that comes to mind is F.I.S.H.: Families Integrating School and Home. Paula Mey spent a year putting this program together, and then last year put it into action. We meet once a month, and learn from one or two teachers how we might put some of their great Montessori practices into use at home too. And not only from them; we also share among us parents Montessori ideas that work, and how to put them into practice at home. In our house, we have a little corner table and shelf in our living room, where we collected and keep all of our musical instruments, the music corner; and we got the idea at a F.I.S.H. meeting.     

Another good one is what we call “Jeff’s coffee hour,” but I think the real name is something like Coffee with the Elementary School Director, run by Jeff Schneider. He tells us about the lessons that our children are taught in The Post Oak School, and often demonstrates them to us, as if we were his students. We learn how the learning process works using Montessori methods. The Q&A at the end is valuable and lots of fun. Every time we sit there, though, 20 or so of us, I always think, “What a shame that 476 parents are missing this!”…

Graduation night in the spring, is a fantastic evening that any of you can partake of. You don’t have to wait until your own child reaches eighth grade to go to a graduation ceremony. It is very, very inspirational to hear these graduates give their speeches, and confirms why we have our children in the school. It is hard to believe how mature and moving they can be, all because of their great founding at Post Oak School. At such a tender age, they already sound like Senators and Congressmen…oops!, maybe that was a bad example. They’re better than Congressmen!

Alumni night gives you similar feelings. These are young people who have moved on to high school, and in some cases college, and come back to share how their years at The Post Oak School have helped them after they have left. Again, very, very inspirational; truly amazing kids!

And now, I just want to mention one last Montessori treat, that is really directed to just a few of you. I’m talking to those of you who at drop-off or pick-up time come north on Ave B up to the entry gate, instead of south, from Fournace. When you get to the gate, and see the long line of cars coming south from Fournace, you kind of do a little wave, and “Can I cut in?,” and of course, someone always lets you in. What you are missing is a feeling shared by all those parents coming south, the wonderful Montessori feeling of doing things the right way. And it’s not just that, you’ll also miss the feeling they all share of letting someone in without having any feelings of animosity; oh, what a great Montessori feeling! You don’t know what you’re missing…why not join us?

Montessori and The Post Oak School: how good does it get?  

And now Jeannine will talk about three of her favorite “extras,” so let me turn it over to my better half, my sweetheart, and the best wife I’ve ever had, Jeannine Bergt!

The following words belong to Jeannine Bergt from the 2010 POPA Annual Welcome Dinner that took place September 14.

Good evening. I am pleased (terrified) to have this opportunity to express my love for Post Oak and the wonderful banquet of parenting information and support laid out before us. Thank you Christina for the invitation. 

I trust my fear of public speaking will recede as I focus on my gratitude to Post Oak: David is our speaker of the house. After this evening I can put P.S. after my name as a “public speaker” – P.S. also standing for Post Script to my long life - as we parent another generation.

We started shortly after our marriage in 1982 to partner with young parents unable to parent due to tragic circumstances, resulting in the placement of children and infants in our home.  You can imagine the pleasure we experienced when we arrived in the fertile soil of The Post Oak School.  You, the parents of Post Oak have been truly an awesome inspiration to us in your desire to learn the Montessori methods. You are the miracle that makes our new adventure in parenting so interesting, intriguing and fun. Thank you!

 I first heard the words Post Oak Montessori at a Houston Swim Club swim class for our then 2-year-old child. She is now eight! A mother simply glowed when speaking about the school her daughter attended. We didn’t exchange names and her face has faded from memory, but my heart continues to thank her. Thank you, if you are here tonight.

Maria Montessori often used the phrase “follow the child.” David and I hear Post Oak say “follow the parent,” and they have placed bite-sized morsels of parenting nourishment in front of us starting with Prospective Parent Classes: As we waited for an opening, what a feast this was! Our plate was now piled high and we put our sights on the goal of becoming a Montessori family and home.

Our next step was to attend the classes offered by Deborah Fry: Redirecting Childrens’ Behavior. A six-week, 18-hour class that certainly helped fill our parenting tool box - we have taken it several times  (our retooling took a little longer). We are active members of her “after-class care group” also, which meets here at Post Oak. My goodness! Our parenting toolbox is in constant use! I must share just one tip that has certainly changed the “mood” of our home. We took her suggestion of writing a mission statement for our family and reading it each week in our family meeting— I must be honest; it sounded a tad hokey when we worked on it one night in bed after class. Let me tell you—I continue to get “goose flesh” when I hear Amber read the words and we discuss our family’s purpose: as an individual, a family member and as a world citizen. Building respectful, resourceful, responsible children is a tall order and we have discovered we can do it best with lots of help. The families we met in these classes continue to inspire and encourage us: you are the icing on the cake! It was after one of these classes in 2006 that we felt the courage that went with our existing love to adopt the infant that was currently in our home. You understand adoption (like public speaking) was never in my plans due to our retirement age.  Retirement has been placed on hold as we enjoy the ride of our life. We feel a sadness for other 68-year-olds that don’t have an eight- and four-year-old in their home; right, it isn’t 24 hrs of fun, but darn close—we sure laugh a lot as we watch the “Montessori miracles” unfold on our personal Montessori journey with Post Oak.

Just last week I was present at the birth of the new Post Oak Girl Scout Troop meeting. The room was full of happy, eager faces so ready for this new adventure and I was happy to offer to be “grandma-on-call” when needed.

These are just a few of the perks of parenting at Post Oak. Thank you.