Miquon Was Always in Their Sights 

By Brenda Lange

The Richter Family is among many who learned about Miquon based on a recommendation.

Before the Richters even had kids—years before—they were turned on to Miquon by one of Nathan Richter’s colleagues. Although they don’t remember exactly, Cerys and Nathan know that whatever she said made them take a drive to discover the hidden gem in the woods of Conshohocken.

“We were so far ahead,” laughs Cerys St. John-Richter. “We developed an interest based on that recommendation, our drive, and a brochure.” Their son, Calvin, who is now in fifth grade, was born about two years after that. 

“We visited a couple other schools, but had already decided that Miquon would be the right place for us,” says Cerys. “Before we really even knew anything about what Progressive education was . . . and we didn’t fully understand the depth of what it was until Calvin started and we got to see it in action.”

The Richters—she is an attorney and Chief of Staff at the Drexel University Kline School of Law, and he is the Vice President of Program Strategy and Insights for the tech company, Dynamic Yield—have always felt they would support their children’s innate gifts, whatever they were, and wanted a school that would do the same. Neither parent went to a Progressive school, mainly because they didn’t have that choice. “But if I could have chosen, I would have chosen Miquon [for myself] too,” says Cerys.

Individuality Matters

Calvin’s younger sister, Naomi, is now in second grade. Both children started at Miquon in Kindergarten, but it wasn’t a given that Naomi would follow in her brother’s footsteps. The siblings have completely different dispositions and Nathan and Cerys were careful not to assume that Miquon would be as perfect a fit for her as it was for Calvin.

After her initial admissions play date at Miquon, where Naomi happily interacted with some potential classmates and her parents talked with the other prospective families, Cerys and Nathan “just knew” that she would be joining Calvin at Miquon.

“She came running toward me and I can see it play back in slow motion,” remembers Cerys. “She was calling out ‘Mommy!’ and she was just so happy. One of our beloved Kindergarten teachers, Sherry Moman, came over to us and said, “She’s magnificent! Are you sending her here or what?” Nathan and I turned to each other and said, ‘Guess she’s going to Miquon.’”

“Her reaction to being in the space was priceless,” she adds. “In that environment, kids are truly seen and are happy.”

Because all children have different talents and use them in different ways, the Miquon teachers take great care to meet their students exactly where they are, respecting their individuality and helping them learn the steps needed to progress. Teachers and parents often form a partnership to help children through individual challenges, so that the child is always supported, whether at school or at home, with the same foundational approach. Cerys has always experienced a strong team approach with her children’s teachers and the school’s staff.

“Our children are thriving at Miquon. There is always a willingness to bring together the right resources so our team can provide my kids exactly what they need,” she says.

Teachers Support Children’s Interests

Early on, Calvin showed his ability as a classroom leader. In 1st grade, a classmate mentioned something about the Titanic. Unaware of the tragedy, he wanted to learn more and searched online with his parents for information. Then he got the whole class interested in the event, generating massive interest. The young students took out books from the library and read them in class, watched YouTube videos about the sinking and built models of the ship out of blocks and tinkering materials. For his end-of-the-year art project, Calvin drew a picture of the ship, which Miquon used on the following year’s invitations for Grandparent’s Day. (The ship he drew was actually the Carpathia, which he learned about through his research, but the adults assumed it was the Titanic.)

“The way he was allowed to follow his interest was admirable. They never shut him down,” says Cerys. “They found a way to welcome that interest and see where it would go. It became a sub-theme in the classroom that evolved because of one child’s passion for a topic.”

Naomi’s interests at age 7 involve expanding her world through her vast imagination. For her how-to book that each child in her 1st-grade class was asked to create—write and illustrate—she chose a fantastical theme that exhibits the great joy she shows around everything, including her dancing and singing.

“Naomi’s book was How to Catch a Flying Elephant, just because she loves elephants and would like to catch one,” says Cerys. “It was so imaginative and started out saying, “Step one: Pour yourself a glass of water, because you’re going to need it!”

“I was just overjoyed to see the childhood coming through in a serious task,” she adds.

Miquon Kindergarten teacher Toni McDonnell with student. Miquon Kindergarten teacher Toni McDonnell with student.

Cerys, who is a member of Miquon’s Board and Chair of its Strategic Planning Committee, is already beginning to prepare Calvin for his transition to 7th grade by devoting time and energy to continuing the partnership with his teachers and the school. She wants to complement what the past five grades have been all about—and continue to bring forth this love of learning.

“We are excited to see where this Miquon education—a true partnership between childhood and learning—will lead our children,” she says. “Wherever that will be, I’m sure we will always have Miquon in our hearts.”