Our Story

Lakeview Maria Montessori Preschool was born in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The school is named after the area Lakeview that was flooded on August 29, 2005 when Katrina hit New Orleans. I arrived back in my native Louisiana, after eleven years in California, twenty three days before the hurricane hit. The desire was already in my heart to open a preschool and after the storm, I knew it was what I was called to do. After living through Katrina, I have been deeply moved by the incredibly generous response of people wanting to help. Katrina revealed to me the kind and caring nature of people all across the country that cared about people in Louisiana. The Montessori community, individuals, families, organizations and churches that have come forward and offered help, have made this preschool a reality.

I would first like to say that without the support of my entire family the doors of this school would not have opened. I would like to thank them and all my friends in California and Louisiana for their love, care, concern, and their prayers during this last year. Each and every one of you is special to me.

I would like to thank the entire church and school staff of Horizon Christian Fellowship in Rancho Santa Fe, California, especially Pastor Bob Bodsford. The prayers and support I received from this church I attended in San Diego was and continues to be invaluable to me. Their generosity following Katrina was overwhelming. A special thank you goes to my dear friends Brandi Chaya, Andy and Laurie Albrecht, Dave and Judy Norman, and Jack and Joanie Olsen.

I would like to thank all the people who have encouraged me. prayed for this school and walked step by step with me. I would especially like to thank Cathy Towner and Joanie Olsen.I am so grateful to have you both in my life.

Following the storm, I contacted Betty Bailey at the NCME teacher training center in San Diego, CA where I had taken my Montessori training. Betty, along with LoAnn Jundt, put me in touch with Dr. Betsy Coe of the Houston Montessori Center. Through Dr. Coe, I learned of American Montessori Society’s Coins for Compassion. This program was set up to help rebuild or open new schools in the hurricane affected area. These three ladies, along with God’s grace, started the wheel in motion with the Montessori community and the donations for the preschool started coming in. I would like to recognize the following schools for their friendship, kindness and generosity:

  •      Montessori School House
  •      Maria Montessori Elementary
  •      Betty Bailey and LoAnn  Jundt  

Montessori Teachers College of San Diego California        
Donated: A very generous Nienhuis Donation
     I have respected and admired both Betty and LoAnn since taking my training with them back in 1995. I am extremely thankful to them for not only their friendship all these years but for taking the time to talk to all those in the Montessori community who called them to check me out following Katrina. I know that without their support none of the schools listed below would have sent donations to my school. I am forever grateful to them not only for the excellent training I received but also for their friendship following the storm until now. Their commitment to Montessori and to Montessori teachers everywhere is to be commended.

The Houston Montessori Center in Houston Texas: Dr. Betsy Coe
Donated: Boxes of Montessori Material
Dr. Coe put me in touch with several Montessori schools and her help was invaluable. Thank you so much for caring about the children of Louisiana! I would also like to thank Gretta Yeager who helped coordinate my visit to Houston to pick up all the material. Thanks!

Woodland Montessori School in Kalispell Montana: Sally Nelder, Administrator.
The children made and sold adorable butterfly magnets to raise money. They also sent beautiful Helping Hands art work to be displayed in the school. Thank you!
Donated: A very generous monetary donation.

Diamante Montessori School in Carol Stream Illinois: Alice Lewaniak, Director
Staff, parents and the children participated in AMS’s Coins for Compassion program. The children collected money, counted it, and then bought material for the school. They also sent pictures of the children counting the change. They were adorable! Thanks!
Donated: Boxes of Material.

Christopher Academy in New Jersey: The parent association donated the proceeds from a Read-A-Thon that was held at the school.
Donated: Boxes of new Usborne books and a very generous monetary donation. I would like to especially thank the president of the parents association at Christopher Academy, Cindy Hill, for her friendship and and all her hard work!

Horizon Christian Preschool in Rancho Santa Fe, California: Cathy Towner, Director
Cathy and I packed boxes of material to be shipped back to Louisiana in December 2005. She graciously gave me new material and invaluable help with how to set up and run a preschool program. Thank you for everything!!

Gina Poage: Gina has been an encouragement to me since I decided to open a preschool. She and her husband, Jim, and their son Rankin came forward and donated all the oak fencing for the school. This wood was cut from their property in Mississippi. A special thanks to John Sumrall, who came with a team from Hattiesburg to put up the fence. Thank you!!

Horizon Christian Fellowship in Rancho Santa Fe, California: Pastor Bob Bodsford
Because of Pastor Bob’s long relationship with Billy Graham and Franklin Graham, he was able to contact Franklin on my behalf.

Franklin Graham’s ministry, Samaritans Purse, volunteered to donate the playground equipment to my school. Thank you!

Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, North Carolina: Franklin Graham, President
I would like to thank this wonderful organization for all the generosity that they have shown me as well as the entire hurricane affected area of the South. They are very special people. I would especially like to thank Franklin Graham for his amazing generosity!! I would also like to thank David Headley who has been my contact person with the playground project. Thank you for such a tremendous blessing!!

Kids Around the World in Rockford, Illinois
I would like to thank all the volunteers who came down to Louisiana and worked for a week to install my playground and beautiful sign. A special thank you to the two people who worked with me during the project, Diana Hamachek and Jerry Flaming.

Many friends and family have also come forward with donations to the preschool:

Steve and Shirley Slinkey and Family from Soquel, California
I have been friends with their daughter Corrine for years.
Thank you for believing in this school, your prayers and heartfelt concern!!
Donated: very generous monetary donation


 Jodi Gianfalla from Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Donated: An art easel. Thanks!


 Eric Allen from Cookeville, Tennessee
Donated: A wooden Noah’s Ark Chest. Thank you!

Gail and Emilie Saunee from Metairie, Louisiana
Donated: Art supplies, holiday decorations and the use of their SUV. Thanks for all the support and help! I love you both!

Linnie and Herb Seal from Metairie, Louisiana
Donated: A microwave, their home for the last year, and all their time and energy as they put together several pieces of furniture. I could not have done it without you!

I would like to thank my mom for living without a garage for the last year while everything for the school was being stored in her garage. I love you! I would also like to thank her for bugging me until I went and observed the first Montessori classroom 15 years ago. You were right, I did love it and it was a perfect fit for me!

Thanks also to my dad. He hauled and moved all the supplies into the school. I could not have done it without you!  Thanks and I love you !

I must mention the person who helped me discover that I was meant to work with young children. His name is Demian Tschirn. I worked as his nanny for several years before taking my Montessori training or even realizing that my gifts were with young children. As much as I would like to think that I taught him something, he taught me how to enjoy life, play and have fun. Love Ya, Dee! Thank you also to his parents, Darryl and Susan, who always treated me like family, love y’all!

I need to also thank my brother John for driving all my stuff back to Louisiana, and my sister-in-law Stephanie for letting him!!As well as, my friends Katina and Dusty Tschirn, and my MaMa, Earline Wilcox who helped make that trip possible. Without all of you, I would not have gotten from California to Louisiana!

To all of those mentioned above and countless others that have given the best gift, friendship, May God Bless you.

To all my friends at the schools I taught at in San Diego, I miss and love you all. I have brought a piece of all of you with me. I espicially want to thank Rabbi Fradkin and his wife Leah Fradkin at Chabad Hebrew Academy in Scripps Ranch. The friendship and support I recieved while working with them as Preschool Director was wonderful. Being a part of Chabad made me ready to open my own program when the time was right. The friendships I made and the memories of the children I taught will always be with me.

I believe that all of us have a destiny or plan for our lives, I am privileged to be living out what I believe is my path……

To God be the Glory…..

Rachel Wilcox

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