The Albrook School--Montessori at its best
The Albrook School--The Albrook School--Montessori at its best

Alumni Profiles

Some Thoughts Shared by a Young Man who had
Attended The Albrook School

by Charlie

My name is Charlie and I was a student at The Albrook School. I completed 6th grade before repeating it at Newark Academy (to keep me with kids my age, as I had skipped a grade previously). For education, I am doing very well and Ms. Vazaios might like to know that I am top of the class in academics (but not in other things). I have adjusted, however, and currently I have lots of friends!

My love of learning has helped me excel and do very well in all of my classes, I also am starting to take more time to embrace computer programming and art, both digital and by hand (please share with Ms. Zarate).

Frost Valley, especially the last year, was one of the best times at the school because a small group meant lots of attention and more fun because there was a smaller line. Even though I was having so much fun, the time seemed to slow down because I purposely tried to cherish every moment so it felt longer. I also loved when I went to the Met, because it was such a hassle to decide and plan and fundraise to go to the Met, especially agreeing and finding ways to compromise with another student on where to go, which took weeks longer than it should have, and it was all worth it and it was EPIC.

I still e-mail Nihal and Augustin occasionally, and we are in the same "clan" (group) in a videogame we often play, and we talk online.

Jack Mahala: Albrook Alumnus, Baseball Standout

The Mahala children all attended The Albrook School with the family's tenure spanning twenty years with all eight children attending Albrook from Stepping Stones and with most through Upper Elementary. Jack Mahala, the third oldest in the family and following the baseball path of his brothers, Thomas and Kevin, has just completed a standout senior year as a pitcher for Seton Hall Prep. Recently, Jack led his team to a victory over top-seeded Milburn in the Greater Newark Tournament. This win was the fifth straight championship for Seton Hall Prep in the GNT. Jack's brother Kevin pitched the first victory of the winning streak.

"My brother (Kevin) started the streak when I was an eighth grader," Mahala said. "I watched him pitch in that game and now being the one pitching is a surreal moment for me." 5/20/17 (Kevin is currently playing Single-A ball with the West Virginia Power - the Pittsburgh Pirates' affiliate.)

Jack finished his season with a 6-1 record and only gave up 4 earned runs over 45 innings. He also posted 48 strikeouts and a .62 E.R.A. Jack has been invited to pitch in the Senior All Star Game for the top seniors in NJ. Bonnie Mahala, Jack's mom, says that Jack is extremely humble about his success. Jack will continue his baseball career and his studies at Harvard this fall. We look forward to hearing about his adventures both on and off the field.

Jack will continue his baseball career and his studies at Harvard this fall. We look forward to hearing about his adventures both on and off the field.

Interview with Joey Marvi

I had the privilege of talking with Joey Marvi about what he remembers from his time at Albrook. Joey had to tap into many years of memories, and I found the overall impressions and love of learning were well ingrained. Also, coming back to work as a camp counselor at Albrook helped keep the memories alive. Below is the short interview:

Ms. McCusker– When did you attend Albrook and for how long?

Joey Marvi – O gosh! It was so long ago. I began when I was only 20 months in September 1994 and graduated sixth grade eleven years later in June 2005.

Ms. McCusker – Are there any memories that you would like to share from Albrook?

Joey Marvi – I remember many fun memories from kindergarten in Mrs. Tarangul's class with Joaquin Domingus. I have also many fond memories of being in elementary and participating in the yearly plays.

Ms. McCusker – How would you describe your transition from Albrook to middle school?

Joey Marvi – Going to middle school was very different from Albrook. It wasn't so much that the work was different, but not being able to move about and having to sit behind a desk for long stretches took some getting used to. It probably took a few weeks and then I got into the flow of it like everybody else.

Ms. McCusker – Did you stay connected with Albrook or any of your Albrook peers when you left?

Joey Marvi – Some of my friends in sixth grade moved on to William Annin, the local public middle school in Basking Ridge, with me which was nice. I also kept in touch with Joaquin and Thomas Mahalla for several years after. While I was in college, I worked as a camp counselor at Albrook.

Ms. McCusker – What was it like been a camp counselor at Albrook?

Joey Marvi – Working as a camp counselor was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed watching the children do the same activities that I did as a kid, like swimming and playing in the playground. I particularly enjoyed connecting with the older children and sharing memories.

Ms. McCusker –What are you doing education or career wise presently?

Joey Marvi– In May, I graduated from North Eastern University with a degree in economics. In July, I am starting a new job in the investments department for a large insurance company in Boston.

Ms. McCusker– Do you feel that your Montessori experience had an influence on the person you have become?

Joey Marvi– In the elementary program, reading was a big part of the curriculum and I still carry that love of reading today. Albrook fostered the independent thinker in me. I missed this aspect of learning in public school. I found my love of learning again once I started college where I had some freedom, like Albrook, to choose how I did my work to a certain extent.

Ms. McCusker – Joey, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. We here at Albrook wish you the best of success in your new job. We look forward to keeping in touch.

Roshan Idnani – Albrook Alum

What grade did you complete prior to leaving Albrook?
I completed 5th grade at Albrook before transitioning to Newark Academy.

Did you feel the knowledge you gained at Albrook prepared you for the next level of your educational journey academically, socially, emotionally?
What I gained at Albrook was a solid foundation in all subjects that has served me well academically in Middle School and I am sure that it will do the same for me during my High School career. I have become a more mature and stable person and also have a big group of friends. I consider these privileges a cause of Albrook and their unique approach to teaching.

Where did your love of learning/educational journey take you?
My love for learning has taken me a long way because I have skipped a grade and am eager to learn which has helped me excel in academics and chess. Albrook not only taught me academics, but has taught me a set of qualities: respect, determination, courage, etc. I believe that this value system will hold me in good stead in the future.

Are there any special memories of Albrook you wish to share?
There are many memories from my days at Albrook that I hold in my heart. One of the main special memories in Albrook was playing during recess. We used to have a list of what we would play. Another great memory is the Frost Valley trip. Every spring, we went on a three day trip to Frost Valley in New York. We did many activities there and enjoyed being with our friends and teachers. Canoeing was one such activity that I enjoyed at Frost Valley. Recently, I went kayaking when I was on vacation in the Philippines. In the middle of the Philippines Sea, my thoughts wandered to my days at Albrook and my trips to Frost Valley. I was thinking that my kayaking skills are simply a result of being able to canoe well.

Do you keep in touch with any friends from Albrook?
I keep in touch with a few friends from Albrook. Whether it is on Instagram or meeting them occasionally, I do like to stay connected. However, it is hard to do so with different school schedules, but I try my best.

Kate Gester Alumna

kate gester

I went to Albrook from stepping stones through 6th grade. I learned so much at Albrook because it was a deeply engaging environment. In the classroom, I felt free to pursue my own interests and take time to enjoy my own learning. Going to school never felt like a chore, as my days were built on my own passion and discovery. Activities outside the classroom, from ice skating lessons to picking strawberries in Ms. Albers' garden, were wonderful opportunities to explore and play. I could contextualize my work in the classroom in all those outside excursions, and was able to carry all that I learned with me after Albrook. I maintained that love of learning and intellectual curiosity through middle school, high school, and now, college. Finally, both inside and outside the classroom, I interacted with students both older and younger than I. I think having three years in one classroom is key in my development; it let me cycle through leading and being led in a real-world way.

At Albrook, I developed my passion for reading and writing. Because I was allowed so much freedom to read and write freely, I developed key communication skills. I learned to see reading as an exercise in empathy, exploring someone else's point of view. I learned to read carefully and see grander themes in a text, then summarize those findings in book reports and reading responses. I expressed my creativity through creative writing, often inspired by the books I read. While reading and writing were my favorite activities, I also loved hands-on learning in other areas. I learned world capitals through placing pins in maps. I learned grammar by coding each part of speech with a symbol. I learned math by moving numbers on the checkerboard. I still think about those tactile activities as I continue my studies today.

I kept that love of learning, reading, and writing through the rest of my schooling. I am graduating from Barnard College, Columbia University (May 2016) with a degree in Comparative Literature and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

After I graduate, I'll be doing consulting at Accenture (coincidentally with fellow Albrook alumna Andrea Ruda). I actually talked about Montessori school in my interviews. When an interviewer asked what motivates me, I said "intellectual curiosity," then explained how I developed that through my time at Albrook. I never lost that joy in learning. I will certainly be taking that curiosity and the communication skills I learned at Albrook to this next phase of my life and beyond.

I have so many moments and memories from Albrook. I loved playing Ms. Hannigan in Annie, performing with my classmates and the entire elementary program. I loved writing stories and sharing them with my classmates. I loved playing soccer and kickball and all kinds of games on various playgrounds at recess. School was just fun at Albrook. I had a great time learning and playing with my friends.

Most people have special bonds with only their high school or college friends, but I'm lucky that I still have elementary school friends. Although I moved to another state after graduating from Albrook, I still have a special bond with the school and the people in my class. Nicholas Cianciara came to visit me in Austin, and I kept in touch electronically with Allison Hess and Dakota Davenport. Even as we grow up, I know that I can always reach out to my Albrook friends because of the close bond we shared during our time there.

Nicholas Cianciara Shares His Educational Journey

My name is Nicholas Cianciara and this is my educational journey: I graduated sixth grade from Albrook. I felt very prepared and confident leaving Albrook and heading to Rutgers Prep. I was able to use the skills that I learned while at Albrook to improve on some subjects that I felt weaker with, and felt comfortable discussing complex topics with my teachers. In a big picture mindset, I believe that Albrook impressed on me three fundamental aspects that I have striven to embody. The first of which is always maintaining my student mentality. This world is a massive place, and everyone has something to teach you as long as you keep your mind open. The second is the freedom that I feel to create my own destiny. While yes, we had assignments to accomplish throughout the day, for the most part I was given the choice of when to complete them. My ability to choose and shape my life has led to some of my greatest accomplishments. The final aspect is that of the Golden Rule. I remember reading it along with classmates on some of my first days in first grade with Mrs. Marvi, and have done my best to "treat others the way that I would like to be treated". I truly believe that life is much more enjoyable and exciting when you abide by these three concepts, and that they have aided me on embarking, and enjoying many of my adventures.

After leaving Albrook, I spent 6th-12th grade at Rutgers Preparatory School. It was in my later years at Rutgers Prep that I developed a passion for community service. This entailed becoming a Volunteer Firefighter with the Basking Ridge Fire Co. 1, and helping to educate Panamanian orphans in English. Once 12th grade ended, I transitioned to Elon University in North Carolina. I am finishing up a Finance degree, and am fortunate to have accepted a job with NetSuite Software down in Austin, TX. While at Elon, I traveled to Guatemala to help with an English, Dental Hygiene, and Team Building program in a developing area of the country. Upon my return, I helped to establish a partnership between the school in Guatemala and an elementary school close to Elon to ensure that there would be continued support for our Guatemalan friends. I took an opportunity to study in Austria, and was able to travel throughout most of central and eastern Europe. During this trip it was very clear that qualities such as kindness and respect transcend cultures and languages, and I realized how very grateful I was for being raised in a Montessori environment where those very qualities are held in such a high respect. I also have been very active in the fundraising community, having organized and participated in firefighter runs, with the donations all going to a predesignated cause. I cannot put into words how gratifying it is to be able to directly affect positive change within someone's life.

One memory that I am happy to have is of the plays and musicals. They are always fun to pull out during the holidays. I am happy to say that I have kept in close touch with Dustin Raiffe, Greg Ruda, and Christopher Mastellone.

Allison Hess

I attended Albrook's Stepping Stones' class and graduated from Upper Elementary. I absolutely believe Albrook prepared me for moving forward in my life. I was ahead of my seventh grade class when I entered Oak Knoll and I continue to be at the top of my class in college today, and I believe Albrook played a large role in setting the key building blocks and foundations for my future academic career. If I'm in the area in the future, my kids will be attending Albrook for as many years as they can.

After leaving Albrook, I attended Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ for middle and high school. Whilst there, I earned several awards including the Connolly Scholar Award, English senior award, Foreign Language senior award, Middlebury Book Award, National Merit, and Cum Laude (in the top five girls in my grade). I played volleyball and was captain for three years and did lighting crew for the school plays and musicals. I am now in my fourth and final year at Boston College, where I am an English major with three minors in Italian, Philosophy, and Management/Leadership. I have just been awarded the most prestigious honor at BC- the Order of the Cross and the Crown. I am also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. I am currently writing a thesis about classical reception-- which is not an easy task! My freshman year I took a course called PULSE which is a service-learning Philosophy and Theology double course that incorporates twelve hours of service per week at a partner in the surrounding Boston area. I fell in love with my service and learning, and I was elected to the eighteen person PULSE council to help other students in their service at over 50+ partners. I am responsible for 2-3 partners and supervisors and about thirty students. I have learned so much from the program in and out of the classroom. I also studied abroad for four months in Florence and Parma, Italy (where Parmesan cheese and prosciutto hail from!) where I was able to travel around Europe, improve my Italian, and live once in a lifetime experiences. After graduating in May 2016, I will be working in executive management for Bloomingdale's in NYC, and I plan to attend graduate school in the next three years. I never want to stop learning and growing!

I have too many good memories to share! I will always remember the teachers as being so caring-- it wasn't about learning from a syllabus, but instead, using each individual child's personalities and talents to best teach. I made so many wonderful lifelong friendships- I still see Dakota Davenport, Alex DeGregorio, and Sarah Butterfield whenever we get the chance. I loved the plays we would do and all the unique ways to learn (I refuse to allow anyone to look at the pictures of me dressed as a saguaro cactus). I know more about science (especially astronomy) than anyone I have met at BC-- including my pre-med roommate- and I believe that is strongly due to Albrook. I also learned how to write and study in invaluable ways. There are honestly too many wonderful memories to write and recall because each day was unique and fun.