Students Gather to Celebrate and Bid Farewell

Students Gather to Celebrate and Bid Farewell

Hannelore Stuart leaves Aquinas Montessori School after almost 40 years of teaching.

Hannelore Stuart's husband's gain is Aquinas Montessori School's loss. The beloved Hannelore Stuart, better known to most of her students as Hannelore Blank, is moving to New Mexico with her husband Chris, when the school year ends. She will be leaving behind almost four decades of memories, memories of her as a German teacher, as an assistant teacher, and probably for most of the children, as a primary Montessori teacher.

"She is the sun, the moon and the stars. She's raised more kids and parents," said Tina Savage, one of Stuart's former students. Not only was Savage a former student, but she also taught at Aquinas and sent her four children there as well.

All four of the Savage children came back for the May FÍte; including Jackie and Nichole Savage. Jackie Savage said that one of her first memories of Aquinas is of Stuart. "I remember sitting on a rug and listening to her read a story about turtles and rocks."

Savage was one of hundreds of guests who attended Aquinas' annual May FÍte that was held on the school grounds last week.

Many of Stuart's other former students came out for the special event. This year's Mayday event had a colonial theme as a tribute to Stuart's role as a re-enactor. Stuart wore a full-length colonial dress with bonnet. Many of the students came dressed as well. Games and crafts revolved around the theme. Entertainment was provided by the students who played the violin, trumpet, recorder and tin-whistle. A group of children did some square dancing and singing as well.

FOOD AND DRINK was provided by the parents. Kathleen Futrell, headmistress, enjoyed all of the festivities along with the other guests. She said that Aquinas has held a May FÍte since she opened the school in 1965.

"I had taught in traditional schools and started reading about Montessori. I liked the philosophy of the education so I took the training. There was such a lot of interest when we started. Itís been a joy," said Futrell.

When Futrell started Aquinas there were only four classes; each one had 15 students. Over the years they added on and now have programs for students from pre-K to sixth grade. They tried a middle school for a couple of years but found that there wasn't enough interest.

"It's great to see so many of the alumni tonight. A couple of the alumni came all the way from Florida," said Futrell.

Futrell said that Stuart has done just about every job at Aquinas. "She came in as a German teacher; then became an assistant teacher. When she took the Montessori training she became a head teacher. She's even driven the bus," said Futrell.

Jane Cavallero, whose children have Stuart for a teacher, said, "She's a wonderful teacher; the children love her. We love, respect and wish her well."

"If we could just bottle her [Hannelore], it would be perfect;" said Amanda Boehm.

Joy Mikkelsen, owner of Roseina's said, "We so appreciate the education. She gave them a wonderful start to their education."

All four of Anne Shingler's children attended Aquinas; her youngest child will graduate this year. All of the Shingler children were at the May FÍte, including Alan Shingler, who is currently attending the Naval Academy.

Anne Shingler is also on the administrative staff at Aquinas and said, "Everybody loves Hannelore; the parents and the kids," said Shingler. "She's highly respected and admired by her students. We're excited by her new venture, but sad to see her go."