In “Ingredients of Outliers”, an outlier is defined as a person that is markedly different in value from other people in the sample. Mary Vallelonga, owner and teacher at Little Friends Montessori School is the quintessential example of an outlier.
6:30AM – Wake up.
“I had always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a little girl,” Vallelonga said.
When she was a young mother of two at the age of 26, she reflected on the difficulties she faced during her school days with classwork and self-esteem. She decided that she wanted something better for her children.
7:30AM – Children begin to arrive.
“Everything I had read about the Montessori Method spoke to me and just felt like the perfect answer,” Vallelonga said. “It was everything I had wished for, for myself and everything I had hoped for, for my children. Deep in my heart, I knew I had struck gold.”
However, she had never imagined how much Montessori would mean to her and affect her personal life, as well as her childrens’.
9:00AM – Staff and children finish filing in. We start our day.
In 1989, Vallelonga opened her very own Montessori School where she teaches children ages 3 to 6.
11:30AM – Lunchtime.
“My greatest obstacle was not the responsibilities and commitments I had that would seem insurmountable at times. No! My greatest impediment or obstacle was me!” Vallelonga said.
She would find herself in doubt of her own capabilities. Listening to old negative tapes that often would haunt her. The old tapes would often play out about “fear” and “failure” but each time, in the present moment, she would do what she loved best and felt called to do and that was to be a teacher, a Montessori teacher.
12:00PM – Group play time outside.
Her next step was opening the school in her own backyard in a little building that she built 25 years ago with her husband Bob. Thankfully her husband happens to be a structural engineer.
1:00PM – Nap and Story time
They broke ground on August 1st, 1989 and in six weeks time, after working tirelessly during that 122-degree Arizona monsoon season, “Little Friends Montessori School” was born.
1:30PM – Second work time.
According to Vallelonga, there were many zig-zags along the way, but the school’s success was a result of just saying yes when it would have been easier to say no.
“I was too afraid of the unknown, scared of failure and did not know if I was up to the task, challenge or could meet the test I was facing,” Vallelonga said. “But always, afterwards, I could.”
5:30PM – All children are now picked up.
Her goal in building the school was to not be selfish or ego-centered. She needed to know that her dream would not be at the cost or expense of someone else’s. She needed to have teachers in her life that could help mold her and guide her. So she found them.
9:30PM – Clean up the classroom, vacuum, wash floors, tables, empty trash, clean bathroom.
Vallelonga recommends finding a mentor, maybe more than one. Someone you trust and admire who is wiser than you. She also encourages outliers to believe in themselves and their intuition. Ask questions and when someone offers you advice, opening a window of hope, take the risk and move forward, not letting your fears take control.
1:30AM to 2:30AM – Go to bed.
“I have no regrets and I would not change anything about any of the things that I experienced on my way to this wonderful place in my life today,” Vallelonga said. “Those struggles have helped me to become more compassionate. To care, to love and to grow up to be a better mother, teacher, sister, daughter, wife, friend and citizen of the world.”
6:30 AM – Rise and shine! A new, fun, exciting, grace-filled day begins!